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Miss Rizos Is the Natural Hair Guru 'Untangling the Roots of Dominican Hair'

Afro-Dominican salon owner Carolina Contreras aka Miss Rios, talks natural hair in the Dominican Republic in this clip for "Great Big Story."

The Dominican Republic has had a long and complicated history with natural hair. The wearing of afros, and curls has long been shunned in the country, in favor of straighter tresses (I was a faithful "Dominican Blowout" recipient myself growing up...thanks, colonialism).


A shift in beauty ideals is presently taking place in the nation, however, thanks to people like Carolina Contreras—the natural hair guru helping "detangle" hair politics in her home country. She promotes the embracing of afro-textured hair through her Santo Domingo-based salon, Miss Rizos.

In a new video entitled "Untangling the Roots of Dominican Hair," she chronicles her hair journey, and shares how she learned to love her curls, despite the naysayers. In doing so, she's opened up a space for others to do the same. "There was this huge thirst and hunger for a space where women would be validated," says the stylist. "It's been the most amazing activism I've done all my life."

Here's the video's YouTube description, via Great Big Story:

In the hot and humid Dominican Republic, most women straighten their naturally curly hair in an effort to conform to deeply ingrained, yet outdated, standards of beauty. But Carolina Contreras is slowly changing this societal norm. Not only does she proudly rock her big curls, she’s helping other women do the same at her natural hair salon. Fondly nicknamed "Miss Rizos," which means Miss Curls in English, Carolina has come to embody self-love and acceptance on the island.

Catch a glimpse of the magic that's happening around the natural hair movement in the Dominican Republic with the clip below.

Interview

Amadou & Mariam Forever

We talk to the legendary Malian duo about their rich past, songwriting process and their advice for young African artists with disabilities.

Amadou & Mariam don't require an introduction.

The couple has been making Afro-blues music for over 35 years, drawing inspiration from their home of Mali, for over 35 years.

Their 1999 albumSou Ni Tilé sold 100,000 copies. In 2005, their album Dimanche à Bamako won the French Victoire de la Musique prize for Best World Music Album of the year and the BBC Radio 3 Award for Africa. It also went platinum in France after selling over 300,000 copies. The duo have performed with U2, Coldplay, Blur and many others.

We caught up with them below for a conversation about their rich past, their songwriting process and their advice for young African artists with disabilities, ahead of the duo's performance at the upcoming London Jazz Festival 2021.

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