Carolina Contreras, also known as Miss Rizos, has spent years fighting the notion that naturally curly hair is inherently bad.
“In the Dominican Republic, having kinky or coarse hair is perceived as something that is unclean, unkept, something that is simply not beautiful,” Contreras, who owns the Miss Rizos Salon in Santo Domingo, said in a profile posted by the Great Big Story video network via Facebook on Monday.
“The salon really cares about the way curly hair is perceived in society and we want to be a part of that change fully,” she added.
In the video, Contreras describes the discrimination she faced when she first decided to embrace her natural curls in 2010 and how that inevitably led her to other women who were looking for a place where they could celebrate their natural hair.
“Some of the things I would hear back then is like, ‘Did you forget your comb at home? Did you put your fingers [in] a socket?’” Contreras said. “I mean, all sorts of really mean things. But I had all these women stop me and ask me how to curl [my hair], how to do it, where did I cut it? There was this huge thirst and hunger for a space where women would be validated.”
The natural hair advocate first began a Spanish-language blog to help others take care of their curls. In 2011, she opened her salon in the country’s capital and has since been empowering young girls and women to say “Yo amo mi pajón!” ("I love my natural hair!”).
“To think that with a brush, a pick or a comb ― I could empower someone,” she said.
Learn more about Miss Rizos in the video above.