Before coming to the Dominican Republic I did not know that women traditionally straightened their hair. When I arrived, I noticed that no matter how hot it was, the time of day, or where I was at, I would see women with their hair straightened. In the United States, it is a lot different. Many women wear their natural curly hair, so coming to the DR and seeing almost every woman on the street with straightened hair really shocked me. In the Dominican Republic, curly hair was seen as ugly, unprofessional, and simply did not obey the standard of beauty. Then, during a class at CIEE I watched a video about Miss Rizos Salón in Santo Domingo. I knew I had to visit the salon, learn more about the curly hair culture they were promoting, and get the full experience by getting my hair done there.
During my second week studying abroad, I finally got the chance to stop by the salon. All of the women there were so friendly and shared their natural hair journeys with me. I felt at home in the salon and knew that everyone there was accepting of my crazy curls. I got a simple wash and go where they washed my hair, put in leave-in conditioner (Kinky Curly), and placed me under the dryer for about 10 minutes. I liked the way my hair turned out, my curls ended up being very controlled and tight, perfect for the hot weather there. The price was very reasonable and I also bought a shirt to support Miss Rizos.
The salon’s ambiance was relaxing and comfortable; it was a free space to be myself and enjoy the beauty around me. I could tell the stylists took pride in working there and were proud of their natural hair. They were like the ambassadors for curly hair around Santo Domingo. If I saw one of the ladies on the street, I knew they were connected to Miss Rizos Salón. Not only do they have hair services, but also work to fight the discrimination that many women and men face in the DR with their afro-textured hair.
During my two-week stay in the Dominican Republic, I learned a lot about women and their hair. It made me appreciate the hair I was given and not to be ashamed of it. The visit helped solidify my identity and comfort with my own hair, but also allowed me to see how other women must live through the norms of society’s expectations about hair. Miss Rizos is out to help women and girls embrace their natural hair through individual self-acceptance. I love that I was able to support Miss Rizos and the salon’s vision. If I come back to Santo Domingo I will definitely visit again. I left Miss Rizos Salón feeling good about myself and my curls.