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Curly Nikki

On the Couch with Nidsy- A Dominican Curly

By January 27th, 202137 Comments
On the Couch with Nidsy- A Dominican Curlybefore


On being curly in the Dominican Republic

I didn’t always like my curly hair. I’m Dominican and curly hair is not really seen as pretty down here… they call it ‘pelo malo’ (bad hair), which I find disturbing as my hair didn’t do anything wrong. Straight or straighter hair is called ‘pelo bueno (good hair), and is desired by the great majority.

It was difficult growing up with curls. Kids had a million offensive names for curly hair, so school was quite the challenge at times. I ended up hating my hair and asking my mom to relax it. I thought it was the best thing I could do to look pretty… at the end of the day, ‘pelo bueno’ was THE THING, the goal. So, my mom took me to the salon where the hair dresser transformed my hair. What was once pelo was now bueno. When I got home, my sister looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry for you, you just damaged your hair “. But it wasn’t ‘till I turned 18 and entered college that I realized she was right.

I’ve always been a little “revolutionary”. I was the kid they took to the psychologist’s office because of my strange thoughts and ideas. I wasn’t a follower, at all, even in a private, catholic school (so you can imagine why nuns considered me as a hazard). I wrote papers and essays about racism and identity- – I was very uncomfortable with us Dominicans having identity problems, wanting to relate to Cristopher Columbus and trying to convince ourselves that we come from Spanish people, when the reality is more than 50% of our culture and looks were given by African slaves brought here to work on the land. I didn’t like the way they taught us from the beginning that it’s not good to be Black, because Black people “can’t think”, and aren’t as smart as withe people are, and how the society saw women with curly hair as sluts (yes, they tend to think that here).

On the Couch with Nidsy- A Dominican Curlytransitioning

I was talking to a friend one day about how we, coming from Black people, tend to be quite racist and ignorant (he, of course didn’t agree) until I realized there was something very important I wasn’t seeing. I had these same feelings toward myself, relaxing my hair and not embracing what I was born with… what God gave me. So I stopped relaxing it, and started growing my curls out. I admit, it was really difficult at first. But I said to myself that if I wanted society’s perspective to change, I had to take the first step and show people that I wasn’t afraid of my roots… that I was completely comfortable with who I was and where I came from. I didn’t do the big chop, because I’ve never liked short hair– I just started letting it grow and began slowly cutting off the relaxed ends, so here I am! My curls are hanging on my shoulders as I’m writing and I’m completely happy, all because I found people that share my point of view, read some stories, got all inspired and said “hey!! Why can’t I inspire someone too?”

Now when anyone dares to tell me “why don’t you go to the hair salon and get your hair straight? You look like a mad woman”, I tell them “todos tenemos el negro detrás de la oreja” (Dominican phrase, meaning we all come from Black, African people). I’m proud of my curly hair and I love the versatility. I promise when I have kids, if I have a girl, I’ll never, EVER, relax her hair and will teach her to love it the way it is.

On the Couch with Nidsy- A Dominican CurlyToday

37 Comments

  • Charlotte says:

    I'm Dominican and I just starting transitioning. I'm finally embracing what God gave me. I know when I go back to DR I will have a lot of criticism but I'm ready for it. They can't say anything when I tell them that this is the hair God gave me and I will not change it due to pressure or others' opinion. How can you argue against something God gave me? I hope that women like us can influence other Dominicans to accept who they are. We will never have straight hair and why go against that? Having curly hair is not bad- plus you can wear it straight whenever. I love my country but we need to accept who we are. Other races have been telling us that- now we have to believe it and change. We need to set examples to our children- especially our daughters. We want to teach them to accept themselves for who they are and if they don't see us doing it, how are they going to understand?

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, you are amazing! Great story. There is nothing better than loving and embracing who you are. You will inspire so many people and remind them that there is no one standard of beauty. Beauty comes in many different shapes, forms, colors and hair textures.

    Sudane

  • Jamie says:

    I know I am soooo late reading this post, but I love it and had to comment. I am a dark skinned African American woman and I have worked in the the DR. I was there before I went natural but I could see how important hair/skin color was/is. I maybe saw one or two girls (beautiful I might add), who were natural. There was a hair salon on every corner and sometimes men would touch my hair out of nowhere. All the little girls at the school where I worked had straight hair and the Haitian girls either had braids, weave, or straight hair. I applaud you(although late) for embracing your FULL heritage and beauty!!! I might also add that before going natural my hairstylist was/is a white Dominican woman with natural bone straight hair. She criticized me for always getting relaxers and running from my curls. She MADE me try to go natural, she convinced me to give it at least 9 months. Well it's been almost a year and I never turned back. When I go to her for my occasional blow-out she constantly tells me how much she loves my afro and plays with it (even when working on other clients). I thank her for making me transition and for the best criticism ever lol!

  • yta1209 says:

    Me encanto! I loved it. I'm Dominican too, and I never bought into the "relaxing" my hair although it was pushed on me by many women in my life. It's great to see young people embracing their natural beauty and african heritage. This put a smile in my heart 🙂 thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous says:

    Nidsy you are amazing so refreshing to hear your story. We really do have to love ourselves. There is nothing wrong with us. Whats ignorant when some of us choose to allow ourselves to fall to societies idea of who we are instead of our true selves. Keep posting your story, I'm so sure you've reached many people already. So proud sis.

  • Anonymous says:

    I go to high school were there are alot of Dominicans,I mean alot. I also have a handful of really close Dominican friends, from light to dark . My teacher who is Dominican taught the class about her heritage, and was basically saying that many like to deny were they come from. Its sad, I am African-American and knowing that this is what some of my friends go through is crazy.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sweetheart I posted my whole life story,and I did something and erased it all,wow. To tired to rewrite ,but I wanna say I love this story and I am glade your bringing it to light.I am a black man sweetie that use to have issues with my skin color sad to say,but sometimes u need a strong black woman, to uplift a black man.keep educating my beautiful sister,your story was very enlighting .thank you.

  • Slinkyhead says:

    this is so sad to me…oftentimes I tell people that im half puertorican and that my dad is afro-puertorican to show people that being black or white or whatever doesnt make you latino. its just a culture. We are all descendant of Africans and I am proud of it. being half hispanic doesnt change that. In fact the majority of slaves went to the carribean and south america…that is the reason that most of the people in central and south america are of african descent! Geez can't we all get along!?

  • Hadasah says:

    This is so cool! I'm from Brooklyn too! My mother is Dominican, my father, black American; my (Dominican) family would LOVE if it I had hair like yours! My hair is actually very kinky and my Dominican family CANNOT understand that I actually like it this way! They also see marrying a white person as marrying "up" and take pride in their light skin and wavy hair. :/ My mom is from the last generation of immigrants in this family, and probably the only one who thinks differently.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love this story! Thank you for sharing it. I stopped going to the Dominican salons long ago, as they HATED to straighten my hair. I currently live in Brooklyn, in a Hispanic area and my husband and I seem to be the only African-American family. Neighbors INSIST that I am Dominican! I am medium to dark brown and completely unaware that I looked anything but Black. But they insist that I "look" Dominican because of my features and complexion. At first it was flattering, because I think Dominican women are quite attractive, but then I realized that I should be proud of who I am and that is was kind of a back handed compliment. As if I had to be Dominican to have the complexion and features that I have. They seemed less than enthusiastic when I reply that I am black, and puzzled that I'm attractive. I'm learning everyday that black is beautiful, but that "black is a title, not a true ethnic identity. The truth is, is that we have African descent as well as Native American, French, Spanish, and whatever else is mixed up in there. Maybe if slavery didnt happen, we would be more homogeneous, but we aren't, we are ALL mixed up. You'd be surprised what you'd find if you did a genealogy search…but to sum this up…I am black, and proud of it!

  • Anonymous says:

    As someone from the melting pot that is called NYC, I have heard many Spanish-speaking people say that they are not black. They were totally against claiming their African ancestors. People judge you on skin color. Some of these people are darker than me with kinkier hair. While they sit there and deny their African heritage, I stare at them and shake my head in pity. I must say that I do get offended when they make it seem like there’s something wrong with being black. I keep telling them, were are all the same. It’s just that your ancestors got dropped off a different place. I hope that one day they will stop denying who they are.

  • Anonymous says:

    it's funny how two countries on the same island respond differently to their african roots. Even though i'm light skin and many people always mistaken me as being Dominican, I'm actually Haitian. Haiti is extremely proud of its African roots and always part of its culture. I just found a while ago that being or calling some one "Haitian" is actually an insult in DR. Really? My ethnicity is considered a curse word. Every time i go out, there has to be one people who tries to speak Spanish with me. I'm actually getting fed up with it. i just want to scream "I'M BLACK" or "I'M HAITIAN, KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!". Haiti is not just filled with people who look like "tar". The country is very diverse, from french, german, italian and even chinese. My family is living proof of that. Every time i hear something new about how much DR looks at Haiti in disgust, it just boils my blood. But i am glad there are people like Nidsy who are embracing who they truly are and their real history, instead of cutting shit out and calling themselves Indiano. Yes people in DR who are dark skin believe with all their might that they are of Taino (the native american who lived in Hispaniola) descent. Even though the Spanish kill them off before the African slaves came, they still believe that shit. SORRY FOR MY SPEECH YOU GUYS!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great read!

    I also appreciate the exposure the the Dominican community. I didn't know it was so much hatred and self-hate towards themselves. I didn't even know they consider curly hair to be slutty. *gasp*

    I always find it so funny how other races admire our skin and hair, but we don't. Another poster made a good point, you don't see other races claiming their black roots, so why are we claiming theirs? I can't help but to wonder what blacks did so wrong from all the hate that we receive.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is a fantastic story! Henry Louis Gates just did a book and documentary on Island people of African descent. He said that when he asked some Dominican's who was of African descent their response was "Haitians."
    Anyway, this was an awesome read! I am very excited and happy to hear a young Dominican lady with such a strong voice!

  • Maria says:

    Hey fellow Dominicana! Que lo que?!! I am all natural as well, born and partially raised in DR. I too never bought into the whole racism thing either and I never put a desrizado (relaxer) on my curly daughters. I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who did not allow me to have those stupid racist thoughts and I was told to be proud of my color. I stopped relaxing my hair when I was 36 and have grown my 3C hair down to my waist. Good luck on your journey! BTW I was told that there is a "natural hair movement" in DR and many women are ditching the relaxers.

  • Anonymous says:

    Refreshing to see someone of DR ethnicity not in denial. I have a "friend" that told me that because she's marrying a white man with irish ethnicity her parents said it's ok she's not marrying someone from DR because she's "marrying up." Ugh.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am Dominican-Panamanian and I can vouch for EVERYTHING she said and what many of the ladies who posted before me said. It's nice to see so many other Dominicanas embracing their curls. I was just talking to my mother yesterday and she told me again, "u uh, I can't do that "natural" thing" :-/ I hope one day that being what God created you to be will not be such a stigma especially in DR. I think being an example and educating people is the only way to change people's views.

  • Anonymous says:

    Mary in Md

    This was both heart warming and sad. Regardless of skin color or hair texture, we are all more the same than different. We should learn to love ourselves and others as God intended. God did not make a mistake. We are ALL wonderfully made. Thanks for sharing your story. You and your hair are beautiful.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am a Reading Coach. Would you believe one of the teachers I support (looks similar to Nidsy) said to me: "Many people think I am mixed but I am not. I am Dominican. I am not black."

    First. I did not ask her. She blurted this out to me.
    Second, nice person—but really–black people are the ONLY people constantly apologizing, justifying, clarifying and giving a rationale for the melanin in their skin.

    And for ALLLLL these blacks always claiming Jewish, Irish–ancestry—it is not funny I NEVER read or hear of Jews or Irish or Russians or Indians BRAGGING about their black ancestry.

    And historians say the Willie Lynch Letter is a hoax.

    Really?

  • Anonymous says:

    I loved this read! Soy Haitiana y Dominicana! I went to a Dominican salon and they didn't think I understiid what they were saying about me. But I did and let them know real quick! Lol. I'm only 16 and I recently big chopped in Jan. of this year and my family was NOT happy.

    & Yes! a lot of Dominicans don't want to accept their African ancestry. I get a lot of grief because I have family from both sides of Hispaniola and get treated like an outsider sometimes…sigh*

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the post! I am Dominican-American and have faced the same negativity from fellow Dominicans when it comes to hair and identifying as Black. No one in the Dominican Republic wants to be considered Black. It is the biggest insult you can call some one. Yet, that is exactly what we are–BLACK! I love my skin, my people, and I love my kinky hair. When I walk down the street, no one ever says, "look at that Latina." Everyone thinks that I am African-American. And so, I never correct them. Being Dominican, or Jamaican, or Trini, etc., is not about skin color or hair texture. It is about the ethnic pride that you carry with you. Thank you so much for your post, Nidsy! Black is beautiful!

  • Anonymous says:

    What have people of African descent done to cause so much hatred against us in the world? Did we go around raping and pillaging, and colonizing, and degrading, knocking down historical monuments, rewriting history? Damn.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is great! I used to work in Washington Heights and I saw many Dominican Girls go natural or at least resist the blow outs. I'm 100% Haitian (sadly most people don't believe me), but in my family is multiracial, we still consider ourselves black no matter what the skin tone and hair texture. I have cousins that pass for white and black, I'm in the middle. Despite the fact we recognize our blackness my family still buys into the "European ideal".

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I wish there where more ppl like u in the world. Great post. Its so liberating to finally realize that ur fine they way u are. N lol at some of the "concepts" u learned at school :p truly crazy. everybody living in the islands has black in them, wheither they like it or not:) They can lie all they want, but i can see black features when i look in their face. Thats why my evil Jamaican side eye is always followed by a quick confession XD

    P.S. ur hair is lovely!

    Nicole

  • libby says:

    This article was very enlightening! It is sad that we are brainwashed to think less of ourselves. It's time for us to begin loving ourselves and thanking God for giving us life.

  • NitaLee says:

    Love It, Im Dominican As Well and I Love My Curly Friends On Top Of My Head(:

  • Anonymous says:

    Out of the stories I've read here on the site, this is the most moving. My dad is from Haiti, and it is amazing how even though they share the island of Hispaniola, Dominicans don't want anything to do with them.I didn't need to read this story to understand why the Dominican salons give you dirty looks when you walk in natural or try to convince you to perm when you sit in their chairs. Americans often go on about how "it's just hair", but this shows that many women of African descent ( here and all over the world)are really brainwashed to think that straight here is more desirable and acceptable. So happy for someone to show that going natural is not a simple minded decision, like so many people here in the US make it seems.

  • Bitty Boss says:

    You go Girl! This made me smile today

  • MelMelBee says:

    Excellent!!!!!! Makes me proud to be Afrikan!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    This was such a great read. Thanks Nikki and congrats to Nidsy.

  • Anonymous says:

    This was inspirational to read. There was a girl from the DR in my high school and she refused to believe that Dominicans were of African descent. No matter what the teacher said or my fellow students and myself said she didn't believe it. It wasn't until my school was a part of a trace your heritage project did she finally see in black and white that she was of African descent. Can you believe this girl cried and said "Why did she have to be black?" It was truly sad. And while others in the class (especially the black girls) wanted to kill her because of her ignorance, all i felt was pity because she didn't even see how lucky she was to be a part of two wonderful cultures . I'm glad this young lady embraced her heritage. I'm telling you, when we finally accept ourselves for who we are the world will have no choice, but to do the same.

  • Anonymous says:

    Nice read…

    I'm Happy you're embracing your roots.
    I live around dominicans all my life (south Bronx), There are many like you who think outside the box which I am completely grateful for…BUT we need MORE. There are also so many, like my neighbors who picked on me and my little sisters because we were the only black people on our floor ( the apt flr). Everyday they would throw things at us, snicker at us, even slash my father's tires. I would look at the "offenders" parents and wonder why are they like this? 'I'm the same complexion as you?, I hear when you blast your music late at night, it has some elements of my west african music'. It wasn't until High School when I came across a book called 'Farming of the Bones' and did my own research on the Dominican Republic and Trujillo. I realized in my college years that its not the kids fault for picking on me and it wasn't anything that I personally did to them. It was something they struggled with as a nation, the same thing every nation goes through, even Australians had their own issues about it…I don't know I still feel like the world needs time. I hope and Pray to come across more women like you 🙂

    D

  • Kellistarr says:

    Good story and very informative. I didn't realize that straight hair reigns supreme in other cultures. It is, indeed, startling how we all have been brain washed to this point. What's great is that people are finally waking up. It's not that I don't think straight hair or long hair is beautiful. It is. But so are other types and textures. I'm glad this Dominican woman is embracing her texture.

  • NancyM says:

    This is a good story. I am the daughter of Cuban parents, and I also consider myself Black. Unfortunately, in a lot of latin countries, they have the same issues and steriotype about black/white and good hair/badhair. What I always tell people is that Black people that come from latin countries or island nations are just as black as African Americans. The only difference is that the slaves that were our ancestors were shipped to a different location. But, they were African slaves nonetheless. We are still your brothers and sisters.

    I applaud this woman for sharing her story. My teenaged daughter and i are transitioning together. Fortunately, we've received positiving comments from our family and friends that matter. Everyone else doesn't matter. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    This was a good read. A friend of mine is Dominican, brown-skinned with freckles and very, very curly natural hair. Her best friend is also Dominican, but is dark-skinned (nearly as dark as me, and I am on a Tika Sumpter level)and relaxes her hair. My friend will tell you, straight up, "I'm Black." That's it, end of story. Yes, she's Dominican and that's her culture and she loves it but she acknowledges that she is of primarily African ancestry.

    Her friend on the other hand, will fight you if you dare open your mouth and even whisper that's she's Black. She seriously gets offended when someone mistakes her for being Black American. Honey, until you open your mouth (they both have slight Dominican accents, having spent their childhoods in the DR), no one would ever suspect otherwise, and even then, they just think you're a Black woman from the Dominican Republic.

    The more I learn about the societal implications of being Black in the DR, the more I understand why she is the way she is…but then how do you explain people like Nidsy and my friend? Who recognize and celebrate their history? It's interesting.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love her story. Growing up with alot of dominicans as a black female i would always see and hear the disassociation with having African blood by my peers. Even though many dominicans i knew had coarse hair and brown to dark skin. They were in denial about where that came from. Its so nice to see someone that knows their roots and embraces them.

  • Anonymous says:

    Inspirational. I am 3C with middle of the back length now. Before I was relaxing and constantly doing the big chop b/c of heat damage. I was, at the beginning very hesitant to go natural. I got the same kind of rude, ignorant comments from my family and friends saying I looking like runaway slave (aint that same sh*t coming from your family, talk about null support)
    But boy and I am I glad i did. I am no longer a prisoner to my salon/stylist. I mean 50 dollars going to get styled every two weeks is super expensive. Needless to say I am finally building my savings(lol)The versatility it crazy infinite. Thanks for your testimonial

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