Mama Saydi isn’t a calculated TikTok creation. That “Mama” moniker grew quite organically.
“I have always felt strange about calling adults of no relation ‘uncle’ or ‘auntie.’ So, when my eldest child was tiny, she started calling my best friend, Mama Jen. I realized that to her, a Mama was someone that she knew was vetted and she could trust. Mama became code for ‘this person is a safe space.’ She’s now 17 and she has lots of Mama’s,” Mama Saydi explains to Parentology.
A professional hair and makeup stylist in Hollywood, Saida Staudenmaier spent time volunteering at her kids’ schools as they grew up. Her youngest introduced her as Mama Saydi, and after a decade many of them still use the moniker when talking to her.
“I love the name because my daughter came up with a way to identify people she knew she could trust. I aim to be there for their peers,” she says.
Mama Saydi Gets Real
Looking straight at the camera and delivering honest, heartfelt messages (sometimes with an F-bomb tossed in) has made these videos stand out. This isn’t necessarily what you’d expect from a seasoned Girl Scout leader, but Mama Saydi sees young girls at a critical point in their development and takes her role as guide and mentor very seriously. So she often gets right to the point.
“I tell my Girl Scouts all the time that I am not really that invested in what badges they earn, or what awards they strive for. I am most interested in helping them learn to navigate the world with empathy,” she explains.
Her philosophy toward badges and awards is this: If you don’t know how to do something, figure it out, and believe you have the ability to solve the problem of not knowing.
After offering words of wisdom and advice over the years to her scouts, the young women in her troupe decided she should take things to the next level by posting messages on TikTok as Mama Saydi. Initially, she was hesitant, not thinking she had anything to say that young people would care about. But her girls explained it simply.
“They told me there’s a lot of people out there that don’t have a Mama in their corner. I’m in their corner,” she explains. “I don’t script anything. I use big ass words because I’m a big nerd. I tell people they are awesome in every post because not enough people believe that they are. I have hope and I want to spread it around.”
The Mama Saydi TikTok account is still in its infancy, but she is getting messages from young people who love it. However, as much as she’s hoping to help them, she equally impressed by the level of awareness and strength she sees in her scouts every day.
“These girls have ambition and greater resources to achieve goals,” she says. “They are activists, and because of social media they are more connected than ever to the world around them. They realize that every group we march for, every marginalized segment of society, and every group of people that are kept down and kept out are 50% women — maybe more. I am helping them understand that when we work to lift up others, we are always working to lift up women.”
Following Mama Saydi means a supportive source of advice, boosterism, and common sense. And, her TikTok persona epitomizes who she is.
“Mama Saydi isn’t a character. I’m not an act,” Mama Saydi says. “I want to be a voice that people can turn to to help them create their own agency. The agency to stay hopeful. There’s so much fear and anger in the world. I am a survivor of trauma and yet I laugh as often as I can. I love as fiercely as I am able. I am authentically and genuinely filled with wonder at the good in the world. We can be better as a society. I just want to add a little Mama Saydi to the conversation so folks feel awesome.”