When Oprah Winfrey decided to go natural on the cover of O Magazine, it was meant as a positive thing. The doyenne of talk and motivation reveals her naturally textured afro hair on the magazine's September 2012 issue. The bright, fun, cheery, and beautiful cover is about "How to Transform." OWN's "Lifeclass" host is lovely in a navy blue top with stylish metal embellishments.
The mogul discussed her hair many times on the groundbreaking "Oprah" show, even making her longtime hairstylist Andre Walker a star in his own right. Winfrey has admitted to wearing weaves and wigs occasionally on camera, as well braids in the off-season. She also wore braids on-camera during her cross-country road trip with BFF Gayle King.
Oprah's last big hair moment was during her interview for Chris Rock's movie "Good Hair." The audience featured African-American women who questioned Rock's film's hypothesis. The film seemed to highlight the fact that black women spend a great deal of money and time on fake hair, while ignoring the fact that women of all backgrounds wear weaves and color their hair. One would be hard pressed to find "natural" women of any racial background on network television.
Nonetheless, it was a good discussion. Two viewers then questioned Winfrey's revelation that her gorgeous bouncy hair was all hers. In true Oprah fashion, the talk show host invited the women to the stage to run their fingers through her hair. Rock exclaimed, "That's all your hair? Then you really are rich!"
A similar mini controversy is brewing with Oprah's new natural hair cover. On the People Style Watch article about O's 'do, a commenter named "nubienne" exclaims, "THIS is a LIE." On social media sites others also question Oprah's God-given hair texture. I'm not sure what detractors think that Ms. Winfrey would have to gain from pretending that her hair is natural. She has a gorgeous head of hair that one can see even in her teen pageant photos that she's shared on the show.
African-American women's hair continues to be controversial -- mostly amongst ourselves but in general society, as well. One need only read the comments at gURL.com to know that teens need positive hair role models with a range of textures. Viola Davis, star of the upcoming "Beautiful Creatures" made headlines when she revealed her natural hair on the Oscars red carpet. Some black women actually questioned whether the Hollywood actress was natural enough as her hair was dyed a striking shade of copper.
There is even sadly a controversy about Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas' hair not being neat enough. We don't know what folks expected, but the international elite gymnast dons an easy ponytail like most of the girls in her sport. Her mother even felt the need to explain that Gabby's coach said, "Hair is secondary. We make time for that after training. Don't mess with my training time." Gabby's social media attackers have been principally African-American women.
I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Hair is not a religion. Judging accomplished women like Oprah, Viola, and Gabby on their hair is shallow, silly, and ignorant. It is a woman's right to choose what to do with her body, and that includes her hair. I might sport my natural afro on Monday, braid it up by Wednesday, and have a blown out weave on the weekend, but I am still the beautiful me that I love equally every day.
Really, people. We have to do better. Non-Eurocentric hair gets enough negative feedback without us adding to it. Be your sister's keeper by respecting her -- and her hair.
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