Eurocentric beauty standards have been around for centuries but we’ve definitely come a long way when it comes to challenging those standards and redefining and diversifying what beauty really means. The world has finally began to rethink how it sees beauty and one of the big ways we’ve seen that happen is with the natural hair movement. If you’re a curly haired Latina like myself, chances are you grew up hearing the term “pelo malo”—a.k.a bad hair—which was often used to describe curly hair. It’s the reason why for a lot of us curly haired girls, wearing our natural curls is often times also political. We might have made tremendous strives but the “pelo malo” mentality hasn’t exactly gone away which is why Dominican stylist and influencer Sherly Tavarez, designed her new T-shirt line “Pelo Malo Where?” Her mission behind the new designs is to encourage curly haired girls to love and embrace their beautiful curls and to understand that there is no such thing as “bad hair.”
I had the honor of learning about Tavarez’s inspiring project during a private all-girls picnic she put together for a few of her friends this summer. The first thing I noticed was her T-shirt and how could I not? The statement alone is powerful especially for any curly-haired Latina.
“This T-shirt line is very special to me as I wanted to make something very relatable for the Latina, bilingual natural hair community,” she tells HipLatina. “The idea came to me one day when I was getting ready to order a shirt and realized I had yet to see a bilingual shirt that I related to and really told my story in very few words. I didn’t just want [it] to just be another shirt with writing on it. I wanted these shirts to tell a story and honestly the first thing that came to mind was growing up and hearing the words “Pelo malo.” That’s where “Pelo Malo Where?” Was created from.”
Tavarez who confidently rocks her gorgeous head of tight spirals, didn’t always embrace her curls. She grew up in a Dominican home—like many Dominican homes—where straight hair was praised and as a result, spent years relaxing and straightening her curls to meet that beauty standard. Tavarez finally went natural in 2016, after a close friend of hers encouraged her to grow out her curls.
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“I always had a love/hate relationship with my hair. I didn’t know what my natural hair actually looked like, since my mom started relaxing it when I was 6-years-old and it wasn’t until I was 23 that I stopped relaxing it and at 26 I stopped applying heat and let it be,” she says. “Pelo malo was always a term used for girls who didn’t have naturally pin straight hair. I grew up going to the Dominican salon every single Saturday. We would spend an entire day there, my mother and I. I’m so glad those days are over. My self-esteem was shot because I felt that to be ready for any special event, I had to go to the salon first. I once told myself, ‘I will never know what it’s like to have good hair. Will I?’”
The T-shirts feature a curly haired girl holding binoculars and Tavarez made sure to include different shades ranging from, light, tan/medium, and deep/dark so that every girl feels seen and represented.
“The message is honestly to to learn to love your natural self, and for younger girls to understand that their hair is beautiful just as it is. It’s important that they know that at a young age because I feel like my generation we were not told these things,” she says.
The T-shirts will be available for pre-order this Monday, September 10th through Tavarez’s Instagram account @sherlytavarez. The first 50 shirts will go on sale for $19.99 and after that will go up to $24.99. But the line doesn’t just end with these adorable shirts. Tavarez has a lot more in the works so stay tuned!