The Viral Slogan Changing the Narrative of Beauty in the Latinx Community
One T-Shirt at a Time…….
I'd like to shout out Sherly Tavarez from Hause of Curls inspiring a movement. The #pelomalowhere (bad hair where?) has inspired a conversation of self awareness and self love within the Latinx community. Her viral shirt has changed the narrative of latina beauty standards.
From Hause of Curls Website:
“Eurocentric beauty standards have been around for centuries but we’ve definitely come a long way when it comes to challenging those standards, 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. Next time someone tells you that you have Pelo Malo... show 'em your shirt! -(Johanna Ferreria, Hip Latina)”
My experience: I remember the last time I set foot in and out of a Dominican hair salon in NYC. Being Dominican myself, I experienced this very eurocentric mentality that unfortunately plagued my community. I had stopped relaxing my hair and harming it from terrible chemicals and it had grown unruly. It was long, very curly and I looked a lot like Tracee Ellis Ross if she ever had a bad hair day. I remember I wanted to straighten my hair for a wedding I was attending and since curly hair was a no-go when you’re dressed up, I decided to take a stab at the hair salon. Right before I went in there, I was already regretting it because I know exactly what they would say. I had already heard the words “pelo malo” so many times that I knew that was definitely coming. But something was going to be different about this visit.
i stepped in and of course heads turned in dismay, eyes rolled and one of the ladies said, “tu quieres derisado, verdad? por que con ese pelo malo, mija!” (translation: you’re wanting a relaxer right? because with that bad hair, girl!) It was NOT a shock and it SHOULD have been, I should have NEVER heard those words before but I did. I was at this point desensitized. But little did I know that is when I would stand up for myself. I answered back, “There is NO such thing as good or bad hair. My hair is curly and coarse much like yours and this is what naturally comes out of my hair. The straight hair that you try so hard to get is a European style and you have to add terrible chemicals for it to look like that. That’s NOT natural. They wet their hair and it’s straight and when I wet it, it comes out like this… And I LOVE it!” Their look was priceless… No one said anything and instead of staying, I walked out, washed and styled my beautiful curls and went to a wedding like the badass I knew I was. Everyone in that wedding event - was loving on my “new look “ and wondered how I’d achieved it. I responded, “it wasn’t hard. I just learned to love the hair on my head.”
As an Afro-Latina myself with roots reaching back as far as West Africa, Spain and Native American - - I’ve had struggles with people in my own community describing my hair as bad hair with good hair believing to be “European straight hair” I’ve never subscribed to that notion and never intend to. By rocking this shirt, we change the narrative of our story to something that embraces differences. This is NOT just a shirt, this is a MOVEMENT and I’m so proud of a fellow Latina creating this.