The Transition

Hi lovely readers/wordpress galaxy friends,

I am ever so terribly sorry I have kind of abandoned The Insomnia Sessions the past few weeks, but life has caught up with me and I haven’t quite caught up with her yet. I wanted to do something different and write about something that’s very near to my heart yet rather different from my usual topics. I want to talk about my curls. Yup, you read right- don’t worry though, this is not going to be another post about how to make your curls pop or whatever you call it or about styling them. I want to talk to you about the power of self awareness and self appreciation and the journey it has been to decolonise my definitions of beauty.

At this point, some of you might be wondering what colonisation has to do with curls- if anything at all, but bear with me, I promise it will all make sense. I come from the first island to be ‘discovered’ by the Spanish ‘conquistadors’ in the ‘New World’ (all in speech marks because these are all ridiculous claims, mainly made from an Eurocentric point of view). La Hispaniola became the first colony in ‘America’, it became a main port for the trafficking of humans (what they liked to call slaves), and so from the diverse population that now inhabited an island originally inhabited solely by Tainos and other natives, surged a rich and colourful mix-raced people, later called: Dominicans.

I told you the background story so you could grasp what I’m trying to say, I grew up in a country which was exploited for years, and where even centuries after the spanish conquistadors left, racism was well alive, because of the caste system that had been systematically implemented in the Dominican society. All white characteristics and features in women, were seen as ‘delicate’, ‘fair’,’elegant’ and ‘classy’, whilst mixed features were not regarded that fairly and don’t even get me started with black features.

I am a part South East Asian, part Spanish, part African and I look like a melting pot myself- CURLS included. During my childhood my mum would always celebrate and compliment my long curls and tell me how beautiful I was with my slightly ‘asian’ eyes, freckles, tan skin and wild curly hair, but there was always social pressure ruining all the hard work my mum would do to make me feel beautiful and embrace diversity within myself. People would tell her things like ‘why won’t you comb her hair, she looks like a stray kid’ or ‘you need to chemically straighten her hair, it’s too wild’ and so one day I decided to tame my curls and in a way my wild side. It is 12 years later, now that I am 23, and have lived outside Dominican culture and have studied how harmful colonisation still is to Latin American countries (and all ex colonies really), that I have learnt that I no longer want to be a slave to colonial social norms, I want to be myself and be free from chemicals which hurt the texture of my hair and the very fibre of my identity.

I started the process of detoxifying my hair from chemicals in January when I got the ‘Big Chop’ and it has been a long and crazy process, going from straightening my hair every week to just wearing my curls proudly everywhere I go, defying stereotypes and feeling beautiful without a blowdry- all hard work when you’ve been conditioned to feel ‘ugly’ or not ‘elegant’ enough if you don’t straighten your hair. But what can I say? I’ve been an avid advocate for liberating our curls for 3 years now, and I just made the decision to live what I preach and lead by example and it feels so good. I hope my story will inspire others- after all, hair grows back and these curls are looking better everyday!

 

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Free your curls,

-M.

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