Beauty & Style Advice

My Hair Isn’t Nappy and Doesn’t Need to Be Tamed

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“Tu tienes el pelo malo.” That’s what I heard from my family growing up. For the non-Spanish speakers, that means I have “bad hair.” Sadly, I believed it.

Mami always compared my hair to Papi’s. In an irritable voice, she said I had “his hair” and she ranted about the struggles of combing my hair as a toddler. Breaking hairbrushes; that was my forte. I also remember the bright yellow and purple jug of Motions Hair Relaxer. I’d sit in a chair while she pulled my hair in all directions. Mami even brushed my forehead sometimes (yes, very painful). She tried her hardest to “tame” my hair. The results were never good enough.


At an early age, I was encouraged to visit Dominican hair salons because they straighten the crap out of any type of hair. Spending 2 hours with rolos on my head under a blazing hair dryer felt like torture; but if it meant shiny straight locks, I was all for it.

I went to the salon every week. If I missed a week, I wouldn’t want to attend school. What would people say about my pajón? 

Despite my fear and not knowing any women who wore their hair natural, I finally decided to embrace my curls. Who cares what people think? I thought. Besides, all those trips to the hair salon had taken a toll on my hair. The heat damage demons caught up to me. My hair wouldn’t curl! It was limp and dry. Dead. If horse poop were an option to revive my locks, I probably would’ve tried it. I was desperate and regretted ever stepping into a hair salon.

After trying almost everything, I found a solution. No, not horse poop – YouTube. YouTube became my BFF. Thanks to hundreds of hair and beauty tutorials I revived my luscious locks.

The last time I used heating tools was in August 2016.

I now embrace my natural rizos fully. My hair is full of life, volume and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ironically, my family loves it too. Yes, even my mom. I try my best to encourage my relatives and friends to nourish their locks and stay away from chemical treatments. I encourage all girls and women to embrace their hair type. Coily, curly, wavy, straight: whatever it is, it’s yours. Don’t get me wrong ladies, pampering yourself at the hair salon is no sin. But letting your hair breathe is really important.

And remember, no matter what anyone says, your curls are not nappy. Your hair doesn’t need to be tamed. It is beautiful as is. That frizz is just a curl waiting to be set free.

Alanna is an aspiring writer and editor. Currently a student at Lehman College pursuing her degree in Media Communication Studies, she spends her leisure time hopping from beauty shop to beauty shop, comparing natural hair products for curly gals. The proud Afro Latina was often told she had “pelo malo” (bad hair) and she wants to put a stop to the damaging idea that straight hair is the only hair that will land you a dream job or man. A promoter of self-love, Alanna also encourages women of all backgrounds to love themselves and to not conform to patriarchal norms.