We’ve been socially conditioned to believe that European beauty standards are the ideal for centuries. It’s only been in recent years that women of color have really gone out of their way to challenge them by embracing their ethnic beauty and their textured hair. This has especially been the case in black and Latinx communities, where more and more women have come to embrace and love their natural curls. Health coach and fitness influencer, Massy Arias is one of them.
Seven months ago, Massy decided to do the big chop in efforts to grow out her natural hair. The Dominicana not only wanted to get her curls back in a healthy state but she also did it for her daughter Indi, to encourage her to embrace her own curls when she gets older.
“[Seven] month later I couldn’t be happier with my decision to chop and work with my natural [curls]. I did it for my Indi. I did it so she can look at me and see herself,” Massy captioned a before and after pic on Instagram. “As [a] little girl growing up in the Dominican Republic being an Afro-Latina, I didn’t see any faces in the big screen that I could relate to (besides Celia Cruz). ‘Straight hair, is good hair’ … I used to hear that all the time. Well, my natural curly and frizzy hair is ALSO great hair. I want Indi to love every inch of herself. Sometimes I miss my bob, but I can always play around with braids as it grows, and maybe wigs.”
Massy recently got her hair cut done by curl specialist and celebrity hairstylist, Ona Diaz-Santin, a.k.a The Hair Saint. This Dominicana is also a curly haired girl herself and is the owner of 5 Salon & Spa in New Jersey, where women from all over the country go to have Ona do her magic on their curly manes.
In the Latino community, “pelo malo” is hair that’s textured—usually curly, coarse or kinky. The closer the hair is to what’s believed to be “African hair” the worst it’s considered. Whereas straighter, more “European-like” textures are considered “pelo bueno.” It’s a sick mentality that very obviously stems from racism and our colonial history in Latin America. It’s a mentality that for centuries has been damaging to women of color, especially when it comes to their self-esteem and body image—even self-worth. Fortunately, we’re living in a time where WOC are finally challenging European beauty ideals and embracing their own beauty.
Massy is right when she says that her naturally curly hair is great because it is. There is no such thing as “good hair” or “bad hair.” It’s a mindset we were socially conditioned—essentially brainwashed—to believe. The more we understand that and the history behind texture discrimination, colorism and beauty ideals, the closer we’ll get to doing away with them all together.