“I am not my hair” : How I learned to love my “pelo malo”


With the recent controversy over Giuliana Ranic’s very inappropriate comment over Zendaya’s hair, I felt a need to write on this topic. Our society values appearance very much, so much that something like your hairstyle can lead to stereotypes and prejudice. You see it was not until recently that I have truly learned to love and appreciate my hair as it is. After applying straightening chemicals such as relaxers and keratin treatments since the age of 6, I decided to stop and embrace my natural hair as is. Growing up I always had a complex about my hair; in fact for a long time I hated my hair.

My whole life I would hear comments such as, “Oh you’re pretty with light skin and blue eyes, so how do you have bad hair?” Thinking back I should’ve answered well I’m not sure what you mean by bad hair because that doesn’t exist. Our society has labeled kinky and more coarse hair as being bad, so how could I not feel bad about my “pelo malo.”  But as I grew older I learned this is not true. My hair light brown hair may be hard to manage at times, but I love it because it makes me different and I can also manage to pull of different hairstyles with it. Every time I look in the mirror my hair is an indicator of my roots, it reminds me that as a Latina I have African, Indigenous and European roots that have created this beautiful “ethnic” hair I have. As the India Arie song goes, “I am not my hair. I am not this skin.I am the soul that lives within.” Let us all remember hair does not and will never define who someone is as a person. And let us also be clear there is no such thing as good or bad hair, there is just hair and many different kinds of it. Hair comes in all different colors and texture and that’s what makes you beautiful and unique. Whether its curly, kinky, wavy, straight long or short , embrace your hair and rock it however you like.

2 thoughts on ““I am not my hair” : How I learned to love my “pelo malo”

  1. Rosann says:

    Well said. And remember that we appreciate things more after they are gone. Due to illness, my hair has thinned substantially and I miss the intensity of my curls. My hair still has a curl and wave but nothing like I had before. And now I regret all the years I spent hating my hair and straightening it the way you did. What I love about our hair is it’s versatility. It can go curly or straight or something in between. And that’s the best…the best of all worlds.

    Liked by 1 person

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