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    Someone posted a link to this entire article a while back. If my recollection serves me correctly, the link was posted on her hairtipsforme. The author of the article, Cassandra Badillo points out that an entire subculture exists where women degrade themselves because of both their color and the style of their hair. It speaks on how most Dominicans call American women blonde and think of them as beautiful while the dark skinned Dominican cannot be seen as pretty because of her African hair. Supposedly, only those who come from European descent are considered beautiful. If a person comes from a different descent, the only way to become beautiful is to color and straighten her hair.

    If anyone has the link, please post it. I've looked all over the net but Icannot find the article without having to pay for it. I know that the link I viewed some months back was in it's entirety and was free. I would like to give a few copies to some friends of mine as well as my mother.

    Thanks and peace.

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    Is this it?

    http://www.goshen.edu/~yolondarw/research

    ETA
    Sorry - I thought I found it.

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    I found it...thanks. I posted it for anyone who is interested.

    Title: "ONLY MY HAIRDRESSER KNOWS FOR SURE".(public perception of women's hair in the Dominican Republic)

    Date: 5/1/2001; Publication: NACLA Report on the Americas; Author: BADILLO, CASANDRA
    In the Dominican Republic, a white woman's hair is described as blonde. Whether it is curly or straight, black or brown, it is said that she is blonde. About the "others," it is said that they have bad hair and that's all--bad hair has no color.
    "Once we were all together," one of the women told me, "and my mother's friend started calling us names, pointing at each of us, drawing differences between each one of us, and distinguishing who among us was the most beautiful. It was like a competition. At the end my brother and I were the last ones left. I will never forget the moment when she said, 'These are the ugliest!' She classified me as the ugliest thing [she laughs though her eyes become wet]. To this day they keep repeating that joke. It is true: I am the ugliest and the one with the most difficult hair."
    Why do black Dominican women straighten, stretch, deform and dye their hair? What gives such importance to the way they arrange and style their hair? Why might a woman want to erase the traits she considers ugly and offensive, namely those associated with her racial identity? These were the questions I pursued while conducting several interviews among poor black Dominican women and stylists in Santiago, Dominican Republic in 1996. Of the nine women who shared their stories, only two decided to quit, after many years, straightening their hair. The interviews with the stylists included two owners of beauty salons in Gurabo, a rural area of Santiago, and the community of Los Perez in the same region. This is a zone where a well-paid worker earns the equivalent of about $84 a week.
    In the Dominican Republic, curly hair carries a symbolic weight, a social stigma. As one woman told me, "Bad hair is worse than AIDS. It never goes away." Expressions such as mi morena and las mas quemaita, used to refer to women's bodies, reflect popular attitudes about beauty that are riddled with racial undertones. One woman said, "At home they always kept me apart. They called me 'bad hair,' 'ugly,' 'pubic head'.... I grew up feeling ugly, feeling as if I were less than others." Hairstyle also has class-based implications. One of the women commented: "People say that a woman's elegance shows through her shoes and her hair...mostly through her hair." A white, green-eyed psychology student told me that she had interviewed for a job at a school in Santiago. Afterwards, the school's director told her: "It is weird that you came to a job interview with curly hair, because that's very informal." The director suggested that she comb her hair with a blower before having her ID picture taken. When she asked why, the director responded, "because one looks more decent. Proper people have straight hair."
    Nonetheless, when a white, blonde woman with straight hair decides to curl it, it can be funny, surprising and glamorous. It is a change that carries no major complications or meanings--a white woman is still white no matter what she does to her hair. But in the Dominican Republic, black women who stop straightening their hair are considered rebellious: "When I quit straightening," Chaki said, "a man told me: 'You look like you don't have a husband. You will see the beating your husband is going to give you!' Another person asked me: 'Where are you going to work, as a cook or as a washerwoman?' My father said: 'Aye, the poor one is becoming crazy.' My mother didn't want to see me. One of my sons told me: 'Mom, I didn't know you were like that. We thought that you were white and not black.' I told them again and again that I was the same: 'I am your mother as always.' My daughter answered: 'Yes, her voice sounds like mom's.'"
    These women put forth a challenge. A black, prieta woman will never find initial acceptance if she decides to keep her hair natural. For her what is "natural" is to alter it! The problem is not changing the hair per se, but rather in the power relations it expresses and in the attitudes of domination it reflects. Hair straightening is a sign of docility and subjection to painful acts, such as the application of lye and other chemicals. It is a ritual of humiliation, yet also a double game of rejection and reward, since those who resist such norms receive punishment and rejection.
    Gertrudis told me: "The process felt as if my head was burning and I didn't say anything because I wanted my hair to feel soft. Before and after the straightening, the stylist puts a treatment that I think has vinegar, lemon and other things. That burns when it falls on a sore, in a burned part or on a wound. It burns but it helps to heal. When they put that mixture on me I began to sweat. Once they put it on so fast and without warning, it was so strong, that I began to pee. I always told the stylist, 'Please tell me in advance so I can prepare myself.' When I got home I couldn't comb my hair from the pain because of the blisters and burns. But after the process, I stood hours in front of the mirror, thinking about different hairstyles, moving my head from one way to the other, feeling my hair soft. You know, just like the peacock: beautiful feathers, but with shame on their feet."
    The perception of the racial type is seemingly a simple one, free of complications or errors. The features of the eyes, skin, hair and nose can be recognized, identified and described. But these categories are not strictly biological and depend on a great deal of cultural encoding. It is of minor importance whether the hair is black or brown: If it's bad it's bad. In the Dominican Republic, a white woman's hair is described as blonde. Whether it is curly or straight, black or brown, it is said that she is blonde. About the "others" it is said that they have bad hair and that's all--bad hair has no color.
    "Straightening" does not whiten a woman, straightening is about self-denial. Being black in the Dominican Republic has never meant anything else. Accepting oneself as black means recognizing oneself as oppressed and exploited. The construction of a creative and free identity evolves from a double denial: to recognize oneself in the act of "not being" and to affirm it.
    A 45-year-old woman who recently decided to quit straightening commented: "When you quit straightening, you feel free, you break the chain that you used to carry in your head before." To quit straightening is an affirmation, a symbolic act of going over to the other faction--the faction of the maroons. That is why it is interpreted as an act of rebelliousness and, in the case of women, it is double rebelliousness, because these two oppressions go together. Many women confess that they anxiously wait for the day to have their hair straightened, because they will then be beautiful and will be able to enjoy, for a few days, what they feel has been denied to them. At the same time they recognize themselves as nonwhites who can be exposed at any time, when the roots begin to grow and be noticed, when it rains or when they get wet.
    According to Naomi Wolf, the beauty myth is a political weapon used to exert control over women. The valuing of what is and what is not beautiful is an instrument of control, of disqualification and delegitimation. This operates in Caribbean women, Dominican or otherwise, in a singular manner. It's all about the hair, precisely because it is one of the traits that women can change and alter.
    To decide not to straighten one's hair is to be unkempt. Not straightening is a disqualification in which the beauty myth plays a role, and in which the reduction of women's humanity to their physical, culturally accepted traits is evident. In order to find a job and/or acceptance in social circles, circles that in some manner exert authoritarian control, women need to show their submission and acceptance. Straightening one's hair becomes a survival strategy. For a poor, black woman, adding an element of confrontation and challenge goes against her in a society dominated by men and by authoritarian structures of power. In a society where the poor face serious obstacles and social insecurity, defiance can turn out to be expensive.
    Power relations shape everyday life. In the "social," the "natural" is not so. And that characterization of what is good hair and bad hair expresses, in Dominican society, more than the legacy of slavery. It expresses the ways in which racism is reproduced on a daily basis. It is amazing that the majority of women were willing to receive my questions because: Is that not the way things are?
    Casandra Badillo is a graduate student in anthropology at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research. This article was excerpted from "When Black is not Beautiful" in The Janey Program in Latin American Studies Newsletter (Fall 1996) and is part of an ongoing research project.
    COPYRIGHT 2001 North American Congress on Latin America, Inc.

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    I remember reading this some years back

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    I remember reading this...did you get it from nappystories.com?

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    I remember reading it on that site. It seems that this is the same thing that we are going through in America. Very sad!!

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    That is a shame! When something burns so bad that it makes you urinate on yourself I don't care what anyone says about my hair, I'll keep it natural while they burn holes in their scalp. It's funny how women who wear their hair natural are "lazy" but men do it all the time. Hmmmm, oh well, I can't change how they think and I won't change how I am, KEEP IT NAPPY

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    I do recall that the last time I saw this posted a Napp member from the DR stated that this obsession with straight hair was most common among the rural and/or less educated people of that country. Not as common in the cities or among the more educated. Still it's sad though.

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    i think its predominant in dominican culture b/c i have a few dominican friends and associates....one dyes her brown hair blonde and wears blue contacts and swears that she would never date/marry a black/hispanic man....the other gets relaxers quite often and wouldnt be caught dead sporting her "bad hair"....both told me that women there get relaxers often and they come from a small city near santo domingo and are from midde/upper class families...
    I think its very common there....and i hope to research the d.r. and p.r. for my dissertation in a couple of years for that exact reason!

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    That is a shame! When something burns so bad...

    ITA with you!!

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    I'm sorry but beauty should not hurt. People are taking it way too far but of course they always have.

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    Wow! I guess some places are REALLY bad when it comes to natural hair. I mean your own kids wondering if you're still their mom, it's something else than a stylist with "attitude".
    Anyway, that reminds me of an essay by an African-American woman (a nappy one), who went to DR as an exchange student.
    I remember reading a travel guide about DR where the (presumably white) author marveled at how Dominicans didn't use the "race card". Sure must be great, when you're white and oblivious to racism!

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    I read this story before...It made me sad that Black people as a whole have a million miles to walk before they ever come to accept their God-given beauty...

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    I read this story before...It made me sad that...

    uh...domincans ain't black, didn't you know? (lol)

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    Interesting story, thanks for sharing.

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    ......the director responded, "because one looks more decent. Proper people have straight hair."

    WTF???

    :-cre

    Crazy people have straight hair too....look at Charles Manson.....

    This is some kinda "ism"....it's gotta be. Self hate is the worse hate of all.

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