Sabrina Paulino

Legacy of The Dominican Blowout

Legacy of The Dominican Blowout is an interactive workbook exploring Dominican beauty culture.

In 2016, a black woman’s story about a Dominican Salon sneaking relaxer into her shampoo in order to make her hair more manageable went viral. The political climate of 2016 made space for movements addressing race and perceptions of beauty. This generated the perfect environment for Dominican beauty culture to be called into question. What does it mean for Dominicans to be known for being able to straighten the kinkiest of hair? What does it say about our relationship with other black and brown communities and relationship to ourselves?

Challenge

Doing this work forced me to confront my own relationship to race and beauty. The $1-3 dollar rack at Word Up bookstore in Washington Heights supplied the secondary research for this project. I read up on Dominican migration, social infrastructure, mother daughter relationships and so much more because of this store and my community which donated to it. I took this framework into all of the events, interviews, photo studies, mind mapping exercises and friendships I had the pleasure of experiencing during this time.

Outcome

I identified a theme of legacy and the need to constantly question our ideals in order to ensure we are always working with a legacy that serves us. The best way to embody this was in the form of a book that lives and breathes with the reader, so they can rebuild their own legacy. The book follows the framework of the Coyolxauhqui Imperative, which helps the reader to pick up the pieces of their identity and become whole again. Remembering Dominican identity by remembering our past in order to mend our relationship with ourselves and others.

Parsons School of Design has offered students innovative approaches to education since its founding in 1896.  Today we’re the only American art and design school within a comprehensive university, The New School, which also houses a rigorous liberal arts college and a progressive performing arts school. Our undergraduate and graduate programs, offered through Parsons’ five schools, immerse students in focused training, interdisciplinary inquiry, and practice-based collaborative learning. Here creators and scholars master established art and design fields and advance emerging ones while studying a range of university disciplines.

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