Transitioning and My Dominican Family

I remember telling my mother that I wanted to stop relaxing my hair as if it was yesterday. My mother was not really thrilled with this decision and asked me to reconsider my choice. During her teenage years she started relaxing the hair of her mother, sisters and herself. However, as soon as she reached mid-thirties she decided to transition, because her hair was loosing density. Her background made it more difficult for me to understand why she did not accept my decision.

My family was not really fond of my decision either, because the Dominican culture was not embracing curly/coiled hair. This hair type is labelled as ‘bad hair’ or ‘harsh hair’. During my childhood I often heard these words and I bravely waited for the white, creamy crack to start burning because I wanted to prevent people labelling my hair with these words. However, during my teenage years I started to develop my own opinion and perspective on social matters. Not to forget, I developed values, which encouraged me to accept the naturally me. I knew that changing the perspective of my family would require much effort, but I did not expect it to be this though and painful.

During gatherings I often heard “You probably should relax your hair, it does not look pretty” “You really should fix your hair” “Do not you feel ashamed, your hair looks really bad” and “I think your hair is not healthy, it is extremely dry and the breakage is clearly visible”. At some point, my mother bought a relaxer, which I refused to apply on my hair. Each time I received the suggestion to relax my hair or the comment that my natural hair will not be pretty I felt strongly demotivated. Consequently, I felt going through a downward spiral. I decided to teach myself to process opinions of others. This would contribute to my inner piece and self-confidence.
In order to change someone’s mind you should show him or her why you are standing your ground. Thus, I stopped sticking my hair in a bun and wore my curls down whatever the circumstances. At some point I dared to say: “I do not care about your opinion, I care about my happiness”

During 2014 my mother started purchasing curly hair care products for me. Around summer 2015 I joked that I would apply a texturizer on my hair and she answered that she would not recommend me doing so. “Your hair is pretty,” she said. My grandparents started admiring the curls and during gatherings often share their positive thoughts about my hair. I do not hear the words ‘bad hair’ anymore.

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