Dominicans Con RIZOS – (Part 1) Meet Belissa

A couple of months ago I had a conversation with my good friend Karen about hair- well our conversations usually lead to a hair discussion because what else is there really to talk about? Right? Haha just playing (not really). We discussed our hair routines, go to products, and her recent haircut experience at Devachan with my well, shoooot, OUR hair angel Nevila.  Our conversation got a little deeper and I started asking her questions about how she felt since going natural and being Latina, more specifically being Dominican and some of her experiences within her culture and the acceptance of her decision.  While listening to her, I became curious to know if she had fellow Dominicanas that were willing to share their stories and even allow to be photographed.  She was able to round up five beautiful ladies that agreed!  I could not have been happier. The energy amongst everyone was exuberant considering having met them briefly over email or seeing their pictures on Instagram.  So here I introduce la primera belleza Belissa!

I love your hair color!  Can you tell me the process and why you decided to go blond?

It was 2001.  I was in my junior year in college- which is when you take your senior pictures.  I absolutely hated my pictures.  So I decided to retake the pictures and then went to my mom’s hair salon for a wash and set as I had done once a week for as long as I could remember.  That morning she happened to have some left over bleach from highlights she had done on another client and decided to use it on me. The rest is history.  

From that moment I kept getting more highlights and then came D-day.  My mom said my hair was falling out so I had to choose between getting my hair relaxed or colored.  Of course I chose coloring and so began my natural hair evolution!  Currently I get a single process (light brown), and highlights at Senses Salon (ask for Jeanine).  I usually only get a full head of highlights once a year and get my roots touched up every two months.

So you are a Pilates instructor – so interesting! Why did you decide to go into this field?

My first introduction to Pilates was in 2010 when I stumbled onto re:AB Pilates through a Lifebooker deal.  I was always looking for new ways to stay fit and active.  With years of weight training, boxing, and dance, they only provided temporary changes to my body.   With pilates, I saw a drastic change in my mind and body after only two weeks and instantly knew it would be in my life forever. I spent two years struggling to make room for my new passion amidst a very busy corporate schedule.  In 2012, I decided to enroll in the re:AB Pilates Teacher Training Program studying under Brooke Siler.  Today, I commute from Harlem to re:AB in the early mornings, then to Rockefeller Center to my corporate job, and finally back to the re:AB studio in the evenings. I didn’t really think I’d be working two jobs at 32, but here I am and I love it!!!

In the future, I would love to share my expertise within urban communities, like Washington Heights (where I was raised) to give back to those communities that lack resources and education in the areas of health and fitness. It’s been quite a ride for me since I started the program.  As fate would have it, my mentor Brooke Siler was commissioned to write the Women’s Health Big Book of Pilates.  I was chosen as one of four fitness models to be featured in the book.  The book was released and I was featured in the November issue of Women’s Health magazine!

Photos by: Maleknaz

7 Replies to “Dominicans Con RIZOS – (Part 1) Meet Belissa”

  1. CurlyHead says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Love your hair color. I have naturally curly hair and I also would get highlights once a year. My hair took a crazy turn last year and I am on the road to recovery. Debating on if I will get highlights ever again!! 🙁

  2. Meliza says:

    Ahh, love this. I still have my Dominican mom threaten me with a relaxer in my sleep when my hair is huge, and I just only started in the spring to go natural.

  3. Bel says:

    Thanks!!! It took a few years to get the color right and now I'll never go back to black. 🙂 Surprisingly enough, I have really thin hair. As all hair, my hair goes through phases when it starts falling out, but I ignore it and continue to deep condition and let it do what it does. @Meliza, keep at it gurl…the process is not easy, but totally worth it!!!

  4. Rich says:

    Get 'em girl! You look great and I love the article!

  5. Perla Cardoza says:

    That's my buddy Bel! Love this article and your blog!! I need a hair tutorial so I could rock my rizos too!
    Over and out,
    Perla (Karens niece)

  6. Julissa Hernandez says:

    I am half Dominican and half Colombian. Two years ago I had the big chop and went natural. I feel my Colombian mother is more supportive of my big curly hair than my Dominican family. They tend to want to take me to el salón and put rolos on my hair. Lol. I love my curls and so happy to see you rockin yours. Gorge girl!

  7. RockYoRizos says:

    Hi Perla! Thanks for reading. I hope some of my tutorials have helped you so far.

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