For chicas who straighten their rizos, no electricity means no access to that hot comb. So in Puerto Rico’s post-Hurricane Maria era, where power, if it ever returned, is unsteady, women with curly hair have been going with natural hair
Laura Om is a salon owner from Puerto Rico who says that straightened hair has long been a cultural norm on the island.
In the weeks after the hurricane, Om shared that a lack of access to electricity prevented women from harnessing the blow driers they often used to straighten their curls. “A lot of people decided, I’m not gonna deal with that anymore,” Om told NPR.
While some salon business owners have struggled because of a lack of electricity, Om, who specializes in styling curly hair, has seen hers flourish. Mostly because, without electricity to charge up their straightening tools, many women are opting to go with natural hair.
Om says that the first time most of her naturally curly haired clients come to see her, they have no idea of what their natural hair looks like.
It’s a phenomenon most women of color who’ve used chemical straighteners and blowdryers on their hair can likely relate to. Mostly, as Om points out, because Latinas are often conditioned to believe that “if you don’t have straight hair, you’re not well put together.” So many of us spend our whole lives straightening them.
Of course, the impression that pelo rizado is “desordenado” or “despeinado” is one of the biggest falsehoods.
Just look at this elegant head full of curls styled by Om herself!
Om’s words and efforts have recently had Latina Twitter pretty hyped.
Hundreds of Latinas on Twitter are talking about Om’s interview and are expressing their excitement over the prospect of embracing their natural hair curls and shedding the labor that comes with straightening them.
Some of her clients are even taking the opportunity to give Om their official stamp of approval.
On Yelp, the stylist’s studio has a 4 out of 5 star review rating (just so ya know).
And many women are just completely all about the decision to embrace natural hair.
— Isabel Sophia Dieppa (@IsabelSDieppa) June 4, 2018
“I’m very happy that I can help young girls love themselves the way they are and it’s not always easy,” Om told NPR in her interview. “A lot of times it’s harder to wear your natural hair, but we help them get there. And we are mixed so we have to embrace that. We have to be happy with that.”