I was reading this excerpt today from Latina Magazine. A poet named Elizabeth Acevedo from the Dominican Republic who references herself as a Black-Latina or Afro-Dominican says she was told that curly hair is for prostitutes. The person was trying to make her feel ashamed of her hair in its natural state. Here is the excerpt from what she said in the magazine:
So my mom is fairer-skinned, and her hair is a little straighter than mine. I grew up seeing that image. I grew up with the blonde Barbie, like so many of us do. That impacts you. I remember washing my hair and pulling it down when it was wet, hoping it would stay straight. I was trying to replicate what I was told was beautiful: a fair-skinned, straight-haired woman. I never saw women like me depicted as beautiful, particularly in the Dominican community, where, at age five or six, you’re straightening your hair and being told it’s a sign of elegance, sophistication and being well-kept. Curly hair, I was told, is the hair of prostitutes. It was considered less than in every shape, way and form. I grew up thinking my hair was never good enough for the spaces I wanted to occupy, but then I realized I don’t want to be in those spaces. If I can’t go to the boardroom, ballroom or wedding the way my hair is, then I don’t want to be there at all. It’s been a hard lesson to learn.
Growing up I heard our hair called a lot of things like: rolly-knots & be-be shots (beady bees) because they make a popping sound like a bee bee gun when combed and they hurt. Also called peas, rolled up peas (peasy head), nappy & ugly (yo nappy head), can’t-you-comb-it-don’t-you-try (can’t-cha-don’t-cha hair) but this is the first I’ve heard of it being like a prostitute…
…but I have heard with my own ears, Spanish speaking people (Israylites) saying natural hair is barrio (or ghetto/from the hood) and also they say its a prison hair style, they assume or use to assume that you were fresh out of prison if your hair was in its natural state.
This is Elizabeth Acevedo. Click to hear her poem about hair.