Latinxs Talk Embracing Their Natural Hair Amid “Pelo Malo” Stigma

Viva

Julissa Calderon was all too familiar with the term “pelo malo (bad hair)” in her Dominican household, as her natural curls were often the target of her grandmother’s scorn. She is far from alone in her first published video as a producer, where she recruited four other Latinxs to share their experiences overcoming the social stigma.

“Growing up with my kind of hair was very difficult, and it definitely gave me some deep-rooted anxiety,” one woman said in the BuzzFeed Pero Like feature. “My grandma would brush my hair so hard. It would hurt physically, and it also hurt inside because I’m like, ‘Why is my hair causing my grandma anxiety? What must have happened in her life to make her think that this hair is bad?”

READ: A Dominican Salon Specializing In Natural Hair Is Redefining Beauty On The Island

Like Calderon, some didn’t feel beautiful until their first relaxer or straightening experience, as a result. “I felt happy, I felt pretty, I felt like I belonged,” she said. “It took me a long time to love my hair.”

Watch how each Latinx learned to embrace their natural curls here:

READ: Dominican Artist Creates Black Madonna For Afro-Latinas Everywhere