:: INTERNATIONAL NATURALISTA :: Carolina, living in the Dominican Republic!

As many of you know, the natural hair community has been growing by leaps and bounds! I truly enjoy being able to participate in an online community sharing natural hair information that extends beyond the borders of the United States. Each individual's natural hair journey is unique and I thought it would be great to share the stories of some wonderful Natural Chica readers that live abroad! Be sure to check back frequently for stories from all corners of the world. Embracing natural hair is a WORLDWIDE movement : ) [If you are interested in participating in this feature, please send an email to mae@naturalchica.com, SUBJECT: International Naturalista]

Meet Carolina aka "Miss Rizos"

Where do you live? What's your background?I live in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I was born here and when I turned 4 I moved to Boston and spent most of my time there. After I graduated college, I decided to come back to the DR for two months, which turned into 2.5 years and counting.Both of my parents were born in the DR, but I have African, French, and Spanish lineage. I consider myself a Black woman, an Afro-Latina, but most importantly a global citizen. What's your natural hair story?During my college years I tried going natural many times and finally after 6 months of no relaxers I decided that going natural wasn’t for me and that I would wait until I turned 30 and do a BC then. About 6 months into my stay here in the Dominican Republic I felt like something was missing, like I wasn’t fully me with the relaxed hair. I was also really curious about what my natural hair looked like since I was relaxing it for over 15 years and didn’t remember. Unlike the other times I transitioned, I decided to cut it really short, the shortest I had ever cut it. This cut signified commitment.I only transitioned for about 2 months before getting a BC. It was as terrifying as it was liberating. I remember feeling chic one minute and ugly the next. The following months involved lots of questioning and lots of growing for me. I kept feeling boyish, ugly, inferior and simply unattractive. Feeling these things especially here in the Dominican Republic, a place where people make sure to remind you that you natural hair is everything but beautiful, was so necessary. Those emotions allowed me to deconstruct their origins and to set my SELF FREE.It’s been almost two years and I love my hair, but most importantly I love all of me.What's the natural hair scene like where you live? Are there natural hair events in your area? Do you see many others with natural hair?Things are definitely changing here, but it is very difficult to be a natural in the DR. People call you all sorts of hurtful names in the streets and worst of all, your family and friends think you are either going crazy, depressed, sick or going through a phase. I’ve been told my strangers that they will pay for me to get a relaxer, that I looked like I got electrocuted, that I have a terrible barber, that I had forgotten my comb at home and the list goes on and on. Dealing with people's opinions about my hair has actually been the most difficult part about being natural. It is inevitable to at times internalize all of these negatives ideas about your hair and feel like you are the outcast or the one that is wrong. These feeling don’t really occupy my mind for too long because I have learned, with time, to deal with them. Most women however, actually believe it and many times go back to the relaxers because of societal pressures.In this past year things have changed so much. There are now several natural hair bloggers in the country and outside who are writing in Spanish, occasional natural hair meet-ups, natural hair products, and I would go as far as saying that there is now a natural hair community that is growing. I see more and more women going natural each day.What's your natural hair regimen? What are some of your favorite products to use? Do you find it difficult to purchase products that work well for your hair where you live/online?One of my New Years Curlsolution is finding a regimen that works for me. I am always trying to find the best product or style and find myself constantly changing my routine. I have to admit that the PJ in me is definitely enjoying it. Some of my favorite products are SheaMoisture’s shampoo (the yellow bottle), Kinky-Curly Knot Today, and Jane Carter Solution’s Nourish and Shine. I just started using Camille Rose Aloe Whipped Hair Gel and absolutely love it! I am also re-experimenting with some of Carol's Daughter products.I am a natural hair product junkie for sure. I tend to go for the most natural products because they actually work better on my hair. I tend to stay away from products that cause build-up, I hate having a dirty itchy scalp!I wash twice a week, once with a sulfate free shampoo and once with either a cleansing cream or a conditioner. I do a wash and go once or twice a month and the rest of the time I either do twist-outs, flat-twists (I am still working on perfecting them), and bantu-knot outs. I oil and massage my scalp every other night and use natural oils and butters to seal. My favorite leave-in/conditioner right now is the Tea Tree Tingle from Trader Joes, and my favorite oil is almond oil.At first it was impossible to find products here, so I would always bring tons of it with me from the US or I would ask my friends to bring it with them when they visited. Now I actually have a little store where I carry most of the products I use. There are also other people in the country who are importing and making their own natural hair products.What are some of your favorite things to do where you live?THE BEACH!!  I live in an island that is surrounded by beautiful beaches and I get to escape to some of them on the weekends. My favorite part of the DR is this beach town called Las Terrenas of Samana. My favorite beach is there, Playa Bonita, heaven on earth, paradise. I love to eat fresh sugar cane, mangos, avocados, fish, coconut water, passion fruit, and did I mention mangos! Finally, I love dancing Merengue and I am an excellent Bachata dancer if I may say so!

Two young ladies from the Dominican Republic (DR) right before their dance performance wearing traditional clothes from the DR

Do you have anything else you'd like to share with our Natural Chica readers?It’s amazing how Black women from all around the world have so much in common. I think we would be surprised to know that regardless of our nationality, women of color share so many of the same struggles and triumphs. I feel like our natural hair can be an awesome opportunity to start the conversation of the things that connect us to one another.Any contact info where our readers can contact you: blog, twitter, tumblr, etc?Sure!On my blog: missrizos.com (Spanish)On Facebook: Miss RizosOn Twitter: miss_rizosOn youtube: lamissrizosI am also a guest blogger on NewLatina.net (in English) and you’ll find me as a co-host at Nappturalite Radio every so often!
Tags: dominican republic, international naturalistas

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    • Jasmine Cespedes-Mejia
    • January 25, 2015

    I would love to learn more. I have been thinking of going natural but I have been scared. I would like your advice please…

    • disqus_hYwzuUOhh1
    • September 21, 2016

    I’m also Dominican and I’ve been relaxing my hair since I was 9 years old (I’m 41), I can’t remember what my natural hair is like…I tired ONCE to go natural by cutting it all off…I could do it, the transition period was awful. I NEED help! Can someone give me ideas of how to style my hair during the transition? Thank you 🙂

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