Name and Age?
Udodilim (U.d.) Nnamdi, 19 years old
Why did you decide to stay natural?
I didn’t really make a conscious decision it all just worked out that I’ve always stayed natural. It was more of my mother’s decision. She didn’t have time or energy to take me to the salon, to relax my hair, and take me for touch ups while growing up, so I rocked box braids or puffs all the time.
I used to whine and complain, and ask her [my mom] to straighten my hair but she told me that when I got to college I could perm my hair if I wanted. When I came to college I realized I wasn’t ready for the hair commitment, and the whole “natural movement” was already sweeping college campuses. I saw girls chopping off all their relaxed hair to attain the natural hair I’d taken for granted, so I didn’t perm my hair.
How has your natural hair journey been? (childhood til now)
My natural hair journey has gone from unimaginative protective styles (box braids), to a period of flat ironing my hair regularly in high school (which caused my hair to break off because I did nothing to protect it), back to box braids, to experimenting with my first weaves senior year of high school. Now I constantly mix it up. I’m finally comfortable with letting my natural hair out for long periods of time as I try out natural styles (bantu knots, braid outs, twist outs), but 70% of the time I’m trying more adventurous protective styles (marley twists, crochet braids, diff weaves, etc).
When was the moment you fell in love with or accepted your natural hair? Explain.
The moment I accepted my natural hair was when I tried my first braid out because I was bored one day. I actually had amazing definition (to this day I have been unable to replicate that perf twistout ). I threw some makeup on, put on a cute outfit, and made the picture my profile picture. This was a big deal for me, and I was stunned by the overwhelmingly positive response from friends and family.
What have you learned about your hair since you’ve been in college?
I’ve learned a lot about my hair since college. I’ve experimented a lot more with products, and done my research by watching my favorite natural hair gurus. I learned things like: I have 4c hair, my hair is naturally very soft, which is a blessing and a cure (less combing but doesn’t hold styles as well), bantu knots or wash and go’s don’t work for my hair, and so much more.
What is your biggest hair challenge?
My biggest hair challenge is trying to achieve the natural hairstyles I see from the gurus without breaking the bank, or spending so much time making my own concoctions. Learning not to get frustrated and give up when I cant get my hair to match another naturalistas is a constant struggle.
Why do you love your hair?
The thing I love most about my hair is how soft it is. I like how I always get a response or reaction out of people when I try new creative styles; it’s like a conversation starter.
Who is your hair crush?
My hair crushes would be YOU [Brianna M. Williams], Naptural85, and Taren Guy, to name a few. I follow so many inspiring naturalistas on Youtube & Instagram that it’s hard to pick a few.
What are your go-to or staple products?
My go-to hair products are the Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioner and Curls Unleashed Curl Defining Creme. Oh and perm rods!
How do you feel about the natural hair community?
I have a love-hate relationship with the “natural hair community” on one hand they’re always willing to share tips and tricks, and are very encouraging of people transitioning. And they’re also very knowledgeable about products and natural hair remedies.
However, I feel there is a condescending nature that pervades the community. Some naturalistas have a tendency to look down on any woman who chooses to have relaxed hair or wear a weave, etc.
As a black woman I believe we have to be accommodating of all hairstyles, and not pick and choose who to support and who to look down upon just because of hair choices and texture. The outside world already looks down upon black women for making certain hair choices, so why should black women continue to participate the vicious cycle? We need to acknowledge that our beauty, value, sense of worth, and self-esteem are not tied to our hair choices and stop viewing women as sell outs if they have relaxed hair or as “more authentic” if their hair is natural. Also, just because a person doesn’t have natural hair doesn’t mean their hair is unhealthy (and vice versa), and we need to stop acting like “natural hair journeys” are the equivalent of some path to enlightenment, self discovery, and emancipation. For some, it is that deep. For others (like me) it was just an easy choice. Finally, just because I use products that are not all natural (because of money, time , etc) does not mean I’m not natural. We need to stop using a million and one different hair products in an attempt to get our hair super shiny, defined, bouncy, etc., if that’s not out how our hair NATURALLY is. There is a lot of hypocrisy in the natural hair community.
Photo Credit: Udodilim Nnamdi