Jenny Polanco: Good .... Bad Hair

AlterEgo

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Straight hair at all costs

Dominican women are obsessed with hair. Fact.

Where I come from (England by the way), the only people who regularly go to a hairdresser are old ladies, while almost everyone else goes for a ?trim?, every 8 weeks or so. That?s it. Here however, I have friends who don?t even wash their own hair, but instead go to the salon 2 sometimes 3 times a week to get their hair washed and blow dried. To me it?s madness, to a Dominican woman it?s a way of life, indeed it?s an integral part of the culture.

And it is exactly this preoccupation with hair and the ?salon? that Dominican designer Jenny Polanco is addressing in her most recent art exhibit ?Good? Bad Hair?, a collaboration with photographer Yael Duval.

?This exhibition uses fashion art and design to express how hair impacts social conditioning and image in Dominican society,? explains Jenny. ?Yeal and I, like many Dominican women, have experienced prejudice by virtue of not having straight hair, or ?good hair?. Such terminology attributes negative and ugly qualities to curly hair and positive and beautiful qualities to straight hair. Social acceptance norms, or codes, tend to remove us as far away as possible from our African and mulatto roots shared by a majority of the Dominican population.?

The resulting exhibit, ?Good? Bad Hair? opened last Friday the 15th of August, is in fact, a celebration of Dominican hair in all it?s natural- and unnatural -glory.

?Hair curlers, ?tubes?, straighteners, extensions, and even wigs are part of the tortuous rituals to which we were subjected during childhood and adolescence.? Says Jenny, who believes that the Dominican mentality when it comes to hair is ?to have straight hair at all costs.?

?Good? Bad Hair? will be open at The Gallery in Altos de Chavon until September 8th, so if you didn?t get a chance to go see it, go take a look!

[For full story and lots of photos, go to Casa de Campo Living - Straight hair at all costs ]
 

Chirimoya

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[video=youtube;wM_Xz6_5KUM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM_Xz6_5KUM[/video]
 

windeguy

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That madness is happening at my home at the moment, but both my wife and step-daughter have only wavy hair, but even it must be STRAIGHTENED.
 

Africaida

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I see a lot more Dominican women wearing their hair curly compared to 5 years ago , but at the same time notices a looooot more weaves/extensions :)
 

Aguaita29

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Well, I go to the salon once a week, but I have gringa friends who wash their hair and blow dry at home every day. So, who really spends more time on their hair? They don't go to the salon as often as they'd like to because, unlike here, it's very expensive.
By the way, I once met an American doctor living here temporarily, doing work for an NGO. I took her to the salon for a shampoo and mani pedi, and she couldn't believe how cheap these services were here. She was "hooked" for the rest of her stay.
 
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Aug 6, 2006
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Dominican hair stylists are very good at what they do. $200 pesos will get you over an hour of fussing around with your hair in Barahona. Bone straight is the desired style there. I have seen a lot more variety in SD and Juan Dolio.

Of course, most of the day, the hair is hidden in tubi form and covered by some ghastly net or skullcap thing.
 

Africaida

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Well, I go to the salon once a week, but I have gringa friends who wash their hair and blow dry at home every day. So, who really spends more time on their hair? They don't go to the salon as often as they'd like to because, unlike here, it's very expensive.
By the way, I once met an American doctor living here temporarily, doing work for an NGO. I took her to the salon for a shampoo and mani pedi, and she couldn't believe how cheap these services were here. She was "hooked" for the rest of her stay.
I don't think it is due to price Agua but cultural. Even dominicans in the US go weekly. It is not that expensive ($25 for a wash and set :nervous:) but they still do it. I admit Dominicans are extremely good with hair and that s the reason why their salons took over many neighborhoods in NYC. Black and Latinas spend a lot of time on their appearance and hair is part of it.
 

AlterEgo

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Well, I go to the salon once a week, but I have gringa friends who wash their hair and blow dry at home every day. So, who really spends more time on their hair? They don't go to the salon as often as they'd like to because, unlike here, it's very expensive.
By the way, I once met an American doctor living here temporarily, doing work for an NGO. I took her to the salon for a shampoo and mani pedi, and she couldn't believe how cheap these services were here. She was "hooked" for the rest of her stay.
Well I'm a gringa, and I have washed my hair every day for decades, since I became a teenager. I also blew it dry every day until a few years ago. My in-laws think I'm nuts - but I'm Italian, and a lot of us have oily scalps & skin that require frequent washing.

I also have naturally wavy/curly hair, and 95% of days I let it dry naturally - in DR they don't understand why I do that. I'd never straighten it, except with a blower and round brush. In DR it's always in a ponytail, jaw clip, or twisted into a bun - too hot for blowers or hair down my back. I don't know how Dominican women walk around all day with their hair down in that heat!!!!

I've never been to a Dominican salon, and I rarely go to one in the US, I color and cut my own hair [I did have training years ago], but I do LOVE pedicures there. They come to my house. And you're right about the cost, shockingly low. At the same time, important to remember they probably don't have the sterilizers that are used in the US nail salons - I have all my own stuff, from nippers to files to polish, even my own inflatable foot tub.

I admire the Dominican women who wear their hair naturally - some of the straightened hair look like stiff boards.
 

Bronxboy

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I going to get it for this one from the ladies.

If I can't mess up your hair or run my fingers through it, I am not dating you.

OMG. The worse to hear, "dont touch the hair". grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
 
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May 29, 2006
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The movie Good Hair is great on this topic. Black women in the US spend more than White women, and that's not per capita. In urban areas, you see the wig and and extension stores all over the place. Black women in the US love Dominican salons and often say if someone has really nice hair that they have Dominican or Puerto Rican hair. But most of the extensions are from India, where the women sacrifice their hair as an offering to temples, and the temples sell the hair to the extension industry..

[video=youtube;L5i5tsIFhDM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5i5tsIFhDM&list=PL7E8378BB219FA304&index=13[/video]

All that tugging and weaving eventually makes a woman lose her hair in patches and then she really has to keep up on the weaves.
 
Aug 6, 2006
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Chris Rock's Good Hair film is informative and very amusing. The custom in India is that when a relative dies, Hindus cut off all their hair in mourning. The temples and others wholesale it to importers, who tend to be Koreans, and the annual hair maintenance tab is around $1200 per year. Probably less than chain smoking, but for some people, more than groceries.

Fake nails are worse, because they are addictive. If you stop filling and replacing fake nails, you will be doomed to have several months of ugly nails. And then there is the fungus problem. And that is just half the problem, because fake nails can be dangerous. They can poke your eyes out with those things. I have heard that some nail shops add stuff to the polish so it will chip and need to be replaced.
 
May 29, 2006
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I remember this one bartender at Pluutos back in the day. Huge 1960s 'fro and looked great. That was about the only Afro I can ever remember seeing in the DR. Sure wish I had some pics of her.

I took one of my Dominican GFs to the salon once. She hauled me way over to Bella Vista and we spent about two hours there while she had her hair cornrowed with some beads in it. She was yammering away with her BFFs, gossiping and they were all drink Presidente Grandes. I don't think she was ever happier with me than when I took her there.
 

bob saunders

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Who is anyone to criticize what a woman does with her hair. Unlike having an abortion, have a kid, or getting married or divorced in only affects her apperance and state of mind. I see plenty of teenage and older wearing their hair natural in the DR, but even Michelle Obama straightens her hair. It shouldn?t be a big deal to anyone whether they do or not, nor for whatever reasons they want to.
 

Chirimoya

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The issue is with those who criticise the women who choose not to straighten their hair.
 

dv8

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afro is nice to look at. but if i had hair like that i'd shave it all off and wear a wig. the texture of natural "bad hair" is like an old fleece blanket used by a homeless dude pushing his shopping cart around back streets of mocsow. and that afro thing cannot be cheap or easy to maintain either. on the other hand "bad hair" straightened with relaxer also feels kinda weird to touch. like the same fleece blanket recycled and dry cleaned to be sold in a salvation army charity shop.

i miss the days when i had no idea hair could be "good"and "bad"...