This week we had the privilege of connecting with another natural all the way from New York. Ijeoma is a natural hair and lifestyle blogger, world traveler, and PhD student. After having relaxers from ages three to nineteen, she cut her hair in 2010 and began chronicling her journey on YouTube. Always a writer, Ijeoma began her website, KlassyKinks.com, in 2013 with the mission to change perceptions of kinky textured hair around the world. While her focus is on encouraging women to fully embrace their natural hair texture through proper maintenance, versatile styling, and self-love, Ijeoma also writes on a myriad of topics that center around having a healthy, classy, and beautiful life. She has an international presence, and has participated in hair and beauty events in South Africa, Kenya, and her birthplace of Nigeria as an invited speaker. A graduate of both Harvard and Columbia Universities, Ijeoma also hopes to encourage scholarly pursuits in young black women, and works in health education and youth development in New York City.
Without much ado, get to know more about Ijeoma below:
Tell us about yourself, where are you from, where are you based and what do you do?
My name is Ijeoma, I am a Nigerian born, NYC residing PhD student and blogger at KlassyKinks.com.
The reason I started my blog was to show that kinky hair could be elegant and classy, so I try to embody that on a daily basis
How important is visual self-expression to you in your daily life? Does your preferred aesthetic compliment or go against your profession?
Self-expression is incredibly important for me as part of my daily life and my brand. The reason I started my blog was to show that kinky hair could be elegant and classy, so I try to embody that on a daily basis. Graduate students are fairly free to express themselves however they want as long as they’re getting their work done, so my ever-changing hairstyles don’t bother anybody.
How long have you been wearing your hair it in its natural state?
This May made 5 years!
How did natural hair blogging come about for you?
I went natural while in college and didn’t have many examples on campus of girls wearing their hair kinky. Once I decided to wear my hair as is, I started getting questions from my peers – I figured if they needed help, maybe people outside of my school community did too!
Do you feel like wearing your hair in its naturally textured state is an extension of your self-expression as a young woman?
Part of me wants to say that wearing my hair naturally is self-expression, then the other part of me wants to say that it’s just living. My hair grows like this, so wearing it this way shouldn’t be revolutionary.
Has your hair in its natural state ever impacted negatively or positively on your self- image? How so?
I’m a lot more confident now than when I was wearing my hair relaxed. I even went through a stint with colored contacts in college! Wearing my hair in its kinky state helped me come to terms with my identity, my beauty, and my image.
Do you now, or have you ever felt that your hair has influenced your identity, or made you aware of your identity in any way?
My hair definitely makes me feel more closely tied to blackness and pan-Africanism in a very general sense, but I can’t say that I feel more Nigerian. Most Nigerian women don’t wear their hair naturally (yet), so I’m actually part of a growing group of outliers.
As a Nigerian American do you ever receive similar or distinctive reactions to your natural hair based on location or culture? What do you think of this?
My hair is well received within my Nigerian community in America. When I go to Nigeria, depending on if I’m in the city or the village, I might get stares and comments about my hair. Most of them are simply out of curiosity so I don’t take offense, and it’s hard to say whether it’s because my hair is natural, because it was long, or because it’s now three different colors.
How important is it to you to keep wearing your hair in its natural state? Do you, in any way, feel attached or connected to your textured hair?
Chemically altering my hair texture is no longer an option for me. I fully plan on continuing to wear my hair the way it was created.
What does your hair care regimen look like?
My regimen has been all over the place lately, but I try to steam, shampoo, deep condition, and condition my hair once a month. Lately, I’ve been cowashing every other week or so, but I’ll probably cut that out again once it gets cold again. I moisturize using the LOC method, and often twist/braid my hair to stretch it before styling.
Has your hair care routine changed much over the years?
Besides happening less frequently and taking much less time, no. I used to spend HOURS on my hair but since introducing steaming to my regimen, detangling times were cut into half. Getting my hair cut earlier this year helped cut down hair care time too.
I no longer care what the media says about our hair – I’m more concerned with it’s representation of black people more broadly, especially in light of growing violence against Black folks.
As an Nigerian American, how do you feel about mainstream media’s role in presenting naturally curly, coily or kinky textured hair as unique or different?
If you’d asked me this two years ago, I might have had a lot of comments. But now, the media is busy trying to figure out our hairstyles and show white women how to recreate them. I no longer care what the media says about our hair – I’m more concerned with it’s representation of black people more broadly, especially in light of growing violence against Black folks.
What is your take on the natural hair movement in Africans/ with diaspora Africans? Do you view it at all as another cultural adoption of African American culture by Africans?
The natural hair movement is definitely growing within Africans both on and outside of the continent. Since I grew up straddling both African and African American cultural worlds, it’s actually hard for me to fully separate the two. I don’t think Africans going natural is an adoption of African American culture, because both Africans and African Americans originally wore their hair natural decades ago. I’ve heard some people argue that the natural hair movement in America is actually an effort to reconnect ties with Africa. Rather than thinking about who is copying whom, I like to view the resurgence of natural hair around the world as a coming together of black women, and thus black people, regardless of nationality.
Any thoughts on texture discrimination within the natural hair community?
Oh boy. All my thoughts can be found in this video.
Name 4 people that you would love to have sitted at your dinner table(And why)
This is tough! I’d love to have my godsister in my head Lupita, because she’s graceful and multi-faceted. We’d need Chimamanda Adichie to be in the mix to hit us with that African feminism, as well as Amandla Steinberg because she is brilliant for her age. To round up the last spot, I’d pick my mom – she’s a hilarious dinner companion!