Curly Hair

Undercover Curl Lover

my curls

My hair tells stories. It speaks of Latinidad, and femininity and seduction. It does what it wants and I obey.

That is except when I give presentations, or when I host events or conduct face-to-face interviews with celebrities. I think about what I am saying—without saying a word—when I go naturally curly or flat-ironed straight.

The “Love Your Curls” film by Dove makes me question the message I am sending my nieces and my future children as well. It’s easy to say that my hair is not political or racial or even a topic of discussion. But it is. One of my nieces looks at her curls with disdain. Her mother and I try to give her a sense of Curl Pride, telling her that her curls are gorgeous and point excitedly at curly hair girls in magazines. But when I set off for my next meeting or interview, hair unraveled and disguised, I see that the message I am sending my niece is tangled up.

And maybe it’s not at all as serious as I make it out to be. I just want my niece to love her hair. I know I love mine. But am I being an undercover curl lover?


Art Exhibit to Tackle Self-Esteem

by: John Rodriguez

For M. Tony Peralta, 37, art is a medium by which he uses to encourage discussion within the Upper Manhattan’s Dominican community. And the topics of discussion may regard some touchy issues like skin color, the texture of hair, and the idea of self-esteem. And his work is drawing in crowds to his art exhibits in upper Manhattan and is getting much buzz for his displays.
Peralta’s current show entitled, Complejo (Spanish for Complex) started off as a project based Sammy Sosa’s controversial use of a cream that made his skin lighter. The project showcased images created by the graphic artist which places Sosa in fictional advertisements pertaining to skin-bleaching products, one of which states boldly “BLACK ‘B’ GONE.”  Eventually, Peralta expanded the project into a show that included his other works like hair straightening and a little girls struggling with their identity.

Meanwhile in another exhibit, showcases the inner turmoil of Dominicans regarding their image where he places an image of two Barbies standing side by side, one black and one white. Over the white Barbie the word Linda (Spanish for pretty is written) but over the black Barbie the word Fea (Spanish word for ugly is written). “We really don’t talk about these issues, these race issues,” Peralta said, commenting on how his exhibit reaches not only the Dominican community but everyone outside.
“I grew up with low self-esteem,” said Peralta, a born and raised Washington Heights native, “It’s very personal…I put myself out there.” His mother who is Dominican and fair-skinned, made Peralta feel bad about his curly hair and dark complexion. “It was important that the show be in Washington Heights because the people that come are going to understand it, I wanted to create discussion.”

While the exhibit’s purpose is to spark conversation about the community’s often taboo topic, Peralta perceives that the exhibit will make a life-changing impact on those who visit it. Viewed at the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), the exhibit has ended but will be heading to Apt. 78 a lounge spot on Broadway and W. 190th St.

Beauty: Defining Ourselves

by: Carmelina Vargas

For some reason or the other, we are bombarded by advertised images of super slim women on a daily basis.  Are these images perpetuating the lack of self esteem in our daughters and in you?

Day after day we are reminded that unless you don’t have the “ideal” skinny body the advertisers portray, and WANT YOU TO HAVE (while wanting to make money by selling us a dream) then you are NOT beautiful.

This is a BIG FAT lie because beauty resides in you.

Although sometimes it may appear hard not to succumb to what advertisers sell us (because of their consistent manipulation and greed) one should learn from a very young age or at time moment, that external beauty is more than one tangible aspect in a woman.

Our daughters should also learn that being smart and athletic is also beautiful.  Learning to play an instrument or being a tomboy is beautiful.  They should also learn how to go about having “healthy” bodies instead of wasting all their energy trying to be skinny.

Most women never stay a particular size because life is very demanding on our bodies.  We must be true to ourselves.

Learn to love yourself from the inside and outside as well.  Aesthetics do not rule the world.  Don’t let it rule yours.

We must find a balance between the external and internal and witness this beauty and share it with others.  Our spiritual health is just as important as our physical health.  If there is anything so special in this world is the fact that women come in all shapes and sizes.  We are all beautiful.

We should aim for less criticism and give more compliments.  We need that. Let’s help teach our daughters, nieces, friends etc. find exactly what makes them special.  Some of us have curly hair, some straight.  Some of us our are brown, light-skinned, black, fair-skinned and we are all beautiful.  Our offspring needs guidance.  Beauty begins from within.

Our differences make us dynamic and more attractive to others.

One strange behavior I’ve encountered is the pressure of another person wanting YOU to be want THEY want you to be.  Demonstrating this behavior expresses a lack of self-esteem on their part.

Please, let us define ourselves.

Here is some examples how you can define your unique beauty – inside out:

•    Know who you are
•    Explore your special talents
•    Learn what styles work best with your body shape
•    Eat healthy
•    Exercise regularly
•    Experiment with makeup and color
•    Be yourself
•    Love yourself, always

Do not let an advertiser belittle your self-esteem.  It is really up to us – the eye of the beholder.

Whatever they are trying to sell; don’t buy it.