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Dr. Kaila Adia Story // Natural Hair Style Icon

Avatar • Jun 22, 2011

*This interview was produced for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally.*

Where do you live?
S: I live in Louisville, Kentucky. I rep Philly because I feel as though “I grew into myself” there, but I’m originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

What do you do?
S: I am an Assistant Professor and the Audre Lorde Endowed Chair in Race, Gender, Class, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Louisville. I teach courses in the Departments of Women’s and Gender Studies and Pan-African Studies.

When and how did you transition into natural hair?
S: I went natural in 2003 and began to loc my hair in 2005. I went from wearing weaves and perming, to growing my perm out and wearing my hair in two small buns. I wore this hairstyle for a while, but became sick of it. It was actually my friend Yaba, who made me consider loc-ing my hair. She was tired of my buns, and didn’t think they did anything for me. I was reluctant, but I eventually came around to see what she saw, and began my locs with two-strand twists.

In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
S: Going natural for me has allowed me to actually LOVE my hair. I play in it. Talk to it. And enjoy grooming it often. When I had a perm I just did at-home perms and dyed it whenever I wanted. I would also smack weaves on my hair from time to time too. This proved to damage my hair. It was dry, breaking off everywhere and if I didn’t have weave in, I thought my hair looked crazy, lol! So going natural and eventually loc-ing really engendered a true appreciation and love of my hair. 

How would you describe your hair? 
S: The texture of my hair is a mix between a tighter curl pattern the longer my hair grows and a looser curl pattern closer to my scalp. My hair is not really that thick. I wish it was, lol! Behavior? Hmmm. It behaves because it grows : )

What is your regimen?
S: I wash my locs every day. I know that most natural hair care stylists do not recommend this, but it works well with my hair. Then I apply olive oil that is mixed with an essential oil, usually lavender to give it a fresh fragrance. I shampoo with Africa’s Best Olive Oil Shampoo or Dr. Bronners Peppermint Magic Soap. I rarely condition because it causes a lot of unnecessary build up in my locs.

I also give my locs a hot oil treatment once a week with just regular olive oil. I just started doing this and it works great!! I use Aloe Vera gel from Whole Foods to twist and braid my locs, and to give them a curly effect. For styles I use Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Smooth-n-Hold Pudding.

What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
S: I used to dye my locs all the time. While I have found my natural hair to be stronger than my permed hair, regular dye has dried out my locs from time to time. So the next time I dye them I will be going to a professional, lol!

What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
S: Washing and moisturizing daily, re-twisting my locs every two weeks, and styling my hair once a week has been working really well for me.

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
S: https://louisville.edu/wgs/kaila-story.html

Anything else you want to add?
S: I absolutely love hair in its natural state. It is simply beautiful. I feel the same about Black women. Consequently, Black women + Natural Hair = FABULOUS, FESTIVE, and FIERCE!

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About Meosha

Just another lover of natural hair and expression. - Style Icon Coordinator for BGLH

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Yaa Pierce
9 years ago

Pretty locs, pretty lady! Starting my locs next week! I’m so excited!

And mad props for her professor position! You go Girl!!!

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago

Thanks so much Yaa for the affirmations. So excited that you are starting to loc!!! Congratulations on your new upcoming journey:)

Robin Nicole
9 years ago

YEESSSS!! Work Kaila, Work! Love your locs, and those cheekbones are to D I E.
Gorgeous!

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  Robin Nicole

Thank you so much Robin!!!! :):)

W. Lotus
9 years ago

I rarely see women with locs featured! I loved it.

I have locs, and I sometimes struggle with how often to twist mine. I feel like my hair looks messy, if it is not freshly twisted. However, twisting it frequently cannot be good for my hair. Maybe I just need an attitude adjustment. 🙂

Angela
Angela
9 years ago

She certainly is fabulous and fierce. Beautiful, just beautiful. I admire all of her professional accomplishments as well. Go girl, WORK.

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  Angela

Awwww Thank you so much Angela!!!!

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago

Thanks so much W. Lotus!!! I used to twist my locs all the time when I first got them but then I just started washing them and giving them more moisture and over time this helped more than the consistent twisting. Your attitude seems great. Locs can be very frustrating through your entire journey. This is why its an excercise in patience:)

W. Lotus
9 years ago
Reply to  The Doctress

It seems like every time I read this website, I get a message about moisture. Now your message pops up. Okay, universe: I get the message! LOL!

Thanks for the reminder and the validation. My hair thanks you, too. 🙂

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  W. Lotus

Lol!! yes with natural hair there is always discussions about moisture, lol.…its so necessary:) no problem:):)

Anon
Anon
9 years ago

Loving her locks!! But I think that last picture needs to go… You can practically see her whole chest.

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  Anon

Lol!! Thank you Anon:) I love the last picture. My chest being out is the point of the dress. I like it this way!!! I like to cause disruption:)

A
A
9 years ago
Reply to  The Doctress

You are definitely making me re-think my approach in terms of washing more often…I may have to try this to see if it will help me out too! Thanks for sharing!

Devon
9 years ago

WOW you’re beautiful! Thats interesting that you wash your hair everyday. First time I’ve heard that for someone with locs but it makes sense to me. Natural hair loves water!

I just loc’d my hair and I’m kinda missing my fro at the moment but seeing your hair has inspired me to push through it!

Thanks for sharing!

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  Devon

Oh yay!!! Thanks so much Devon. Yeah when I first started my locs. The Loctician told me not to wash them because I started with two strand twists. It never made any sense to me, so I broke the rules and just continued to wash my hair and it locked right away. Ever since I give it what it wants:) water and moisture:)Thanks again for the affirmations:)

Scarlett
Scarlett
9 years ago
Reply to  The Doctress

You are such an inspiration. Thanks for your comment.

A
A
9 years ago

oops…didn’t mean to reply to anon’s comment above. Your response made me lol.…lol

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  A

lol!! That’s okay and thanks so much A!!!

Kesha
Kesha
9 years ago

Hello Hometown, I am from Ann Arbor too. Went to Pioneer, what about you? Currently I live in Chicago. Very glad to be introduced to you and learn about your hair.

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  Kesha

Oh yay!! *high five* for the Ann Arbor connection.Yes I went to Pioneer. Class of 98. I lived in Chicago for four years while I completed my undergrad at DePaul. So nice to meet you too and thanks so much for the affirmations:)

NtrlGAGirl
NtrlGAGirl
9 years ago

What a lovely feature! Both she and her hair a beautiful.

I’m exploring the idea of loc“ing, but I live in an area where I’d have to travel about two hours to a loctician. Every two weeks, traveling 2 hours is one heck of a commitment for me right now. At what point is it practical to begin self-care of one’s locs? I’m sure it’s individual, but is there a fairly standard learning curve?

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  NtrlGAGirl

Thanks so much NtrlGirl!!! yeah I live in Louisville, Kentucky now and it has been hard for me to find a professional to do my hair here. So for the past four years I’ve been doing it in on my own. Self-care for locs is just fine. You shouldn;t have to drive so far. You will be able to do your hair. Locs just take time and patience. However, it does feel good every now and again to have someone else do your hair:)

FloridaHoneybee
FloridaHoneybee
9 years ago

I am not that into locs. Is that Bonner shampoo really strong in smell?

She is beautiful. I have a huge crush on her. Nice to see her featured. Love the education and her focus on LBQ’s. As an academic, sadly our representation is fairly minimal. Society tends to enjoy the NeeNee stereotypes—so this is an Awesome feature and refreshing!

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago

Thanks so much FlordiaHoneyBee :):) You are very right about academia!!! Slowly but surely though I see us taking over, lol!!! and yes society does love the NeeNee’s and the sterotypes etc… that’s why sites likes this are so great!! Thanks so much for your kind words:)

Scarlett
Scarlett
9 years ago

Kaila,
This totally off the subject of hair, but I have been really thiniking of getting a PhD and I have a specific interest in race, class and gender. I have been researching PhD programs and anthropology is piquing my interest. If you don’t mind me asking, what was your area of study?

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  Scarlett

Scarlett: Thanks for the question. I got my BA in Women’s and Gender Studies at DePaul in Chicago. I then moved to Philly to get my MA at Temple in African American Studies with a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies and got my PhD in African American Studies. With each degree I concentrate the majority of my research on the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. 🙂 I encourage you to pursue a doctorate. Its worth it. Its really an investment in the self:) Good Luck:)

Scarlett
Scarlett
9 years ago
Reply to  The Doctress

You are such an inspiration. Thanks for your comment.

Ki
Ki
9 years ago
Reply to  The Doctress

Shout out to the sister scholars working it! She is gorgeous!

: Anthropology is great! I’m currently working on my PhD in anthro and hope to be finished by next year (gotta put it out there to make it real). Race/class/gender and religion are my fields. We need more of us sis!

intelligentblackbeautiful
intelligentblackbeautiful
9 years ago
Reply to  The Doctress

Yay for Temple! Got my MA in Af. Am as well…now looking into doctorate programs. Also want to say lovely locs and I absolutely LOVE the dress in your last picture!!!

N
N
9 years ago

Prof., while you look stunning in the last picture, I feel that it’s showing to much…

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  N

Thank you N for the affirmation:) and thank you for saying its too much. I wrote my dissertation on the body as text. Discussing the reacialized gendered and sexual projections society has projected onto the Black Feminine Performing Body specifically. So in a nutshell, I embody what I write/research. I pride myself on pushing the envelope between popularized notions of “respectability” and “wantoness” 🙂

NtrlGAGirl
NtrlGAGirl
9 years ago
Reply to  The Doctress

I totally <3 you!!! You ROCK!!!

zyaran
zyaran
9 years ago
Reply to  N

I know right it’s like a got milk commerical ad would be good about right now.lol… But her locs are beautiful and it was a nice interview as well.

M.J.
M.J.
9 years ago

You’re so pretty. And your hair is gorgeous! Honestly, I’ve been seeing so many messed up locs, I had forgotten what the beautiful ones looked like. Now, I remember why I thought they were so pretty back in Middle School.

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  M.J.

Awww thank you so much M.J.!!!!! It has been a journey:)

Paula
Paula
9 years ago

Do you retwist your locs with a latch hook? I’m interested in locs, and would let someone start them, but I would want to maintain them myself and so far the locticians i’ve spoken to are all against that.

elle
9 years ago
Reply to  Paula

They are against that mainly cuz they want more clients. but it can be done. there are plenty of successful “dreadheads” on youtube.
I say just go for the first few months then just stop going.

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  elle

Hey Paula:

Not sure what lack hook is? lol…glad Elle responded:)

HomeGrownHairGirl
9 years ago
Reply to  Paula

Hi Paula,
I agree! Locs can be self-maintained–with practice and patience. I have an aunt who maintains her own locs (and has for 10+ years). Now, let me just say I am generally not a fan of them, but her locs look VERY nice. She washes her hair daily. The locs have grown to waist-length.

Paula
Paula
9 years ago

Thanks all!

I really think I’m going to get them sometime soon.

@ the doctress — do you just twist your fingers then?

Kaila
9 years ago

Whoa! We have the same name! 😀

P.S. Your hair is beautiful!

The Doctress
The Doctress
9 years ago
Reply to  Kaila

Awww we do:) is your name pronouced (Ky-la)or (Ka-La)mine is pronouced (Ky-La):) Thank you for the compliment on my hair!!!

Kaila
9 years ago
Reply to  The Doctress

Mine is Ky-la too! For some reason it has confounded people my entire life… I always have to remind people there’s an “i” in there!
You’re actually the first Kaila who pronounces it the same way as me. Exciting! 🙂

Got alove for ma hair
Got alove for ma hair
8 years ago

Hey my name’s kaila and i want to be a doctor as well, cool

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