Name: Maya Golden

Age: 23

City: NYC

Occupation:  Accountant

EBONY: How long have you been natural and why?

Maya Golden: I have always admired natural hair and I have been "natural" all of my life. In 2008, I chopped my hair and have vowed since then to take better care of my hair. Before that I spent a lot of time and money straightening my hair with a flat iron or styling it with braids, but I always loved my curls. I enjoy being different and I love that my hair stands out in a crowd. To me "being natural" shows a sense of security of who you are. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

EBONY: How does your natural hair make you feel?

MG: My mother always made sure that I knew and understood that I was beautiful and nothing short of it. I’m proud of my natural hair. In our society, people try to blend in and take the easy way out, I feel going natural is almost like saying, "I accept the challenge to stand out, even if it means I have to spend hours a week maintaining my hair." When I was younger, people always had something negative to say about my big hair. My mom always encouraged me to be different.

EBONY: Are there any challenges you face as a naturalista?

MG: I would say not being able to just "get up and go" is a bit frustrating at times. It’s not like I can just wake up in the morning throw my hair in ponytail and go. I have to have a game plan. Another challenge is that never knowing exactly how my hair is going to come out, even if you have a plan.

EBONY: Where do you go for styling inspiration?

MG: I’m always playing with a new styles and looks. My sister and I bounce ideas off of each other, and I do have one friend whose hair I really admire. However, I try to draw style inspiration from those with a similar curl pattern.

EBONY: What is your favorite go-to product for maintaining your beautiful hair?

MG: I love Shea Moisturizer products and DevaCurl shampoo & conditioner. From time to time, I also use Moroccan Oil and Aussie 3 Minute Miracle.

EBONY: What advice would you give someone looking to go natural?

MG: DO IT! I always always encourage anyone who asks me if they should go natural to just do it and not look back. It is one of those decisions you won’t regret.

-LaParis Hawkins