AHHH!!!! “O”MG!! I had no words to express the sheer joy I felt reading that Oprah has revealed her natural hair on the cover of the September 2012 issue of O magazine. Of course, before this issue can even get hot off the press, critics are already saying things like, “she’s so fake,” or “that can’t be all her hair.” Really? Booo! Anyway, do you understand the ripple effect this is going to cause within the Black community? Not saying that Oprah is some sort of god or that we need her validation, but she is huge role model to many women. I can see many more Black women questioning if they should make the decision to go natural. I can see White women saying, “What’s this hair thing all about?” Let’s delve a little deeper into Oprah’s transformation.
First off, I love the volume and thickness. For critics who say that can’t be all her hair, she has always had thick hair. She shared a picture of herself as a child with thick, natural hair in her interview with Chris Rock for his movie “Good Hair.” She also wore a big and beautiful afro as a young reporter. Understandably, people might think Oprah’s hair is still relaxed or fake because she appears to have lost some curl definition, (probably the result of years of heat styling and straightening and there may be some relaxed pieces in there). Of course, now we get into the debate over hair texture. If someone like Solange Knowles wears an afro, people say, it’s too kinky. If Oprah decides to go curly, folks say it doesn’t have enough curl to be natural. Oh, really? What do folks want her to do? Chop off the straight ends and start over so WE (the public) can see her true curl pattern?
Besides all of that, the point is that she is finally in a place mentally where she is comfortable revealing this side of herself. This is the way she likes to wear her hair, but until now only did so on weekends and vacation. Oprah opened up about her new look stating that it makes her feel unencumbered. She also opens up about the time she wanted to cut it all off stating,
“I wanted to wear it close-cropped a la Camille Cosby but her husband Bill convinced me otherwise. ‘Don’t do it,’ he said. ‘You’ve got the wrong head shape and you’ll disappoint yourself.’ I took his advice.”
Hair is kind of a big deal. It changes the way you feel and how you view yourself. With a new style often comes new energy. Straight or curly is a matter of preference and I don’t think it speaks to one’s self-esteem per se. However, there is a vulnerability, a sense of nakedness that takes place when making the decision to go natural. It’s liberating and terrifying at the same time. As powerful as Oprah is, she is still human. Do you really think she would just open herself up to this type of scrutiny unless she was ready? I’m sure that she had to have a conversation with self first before deciding to show the world. And, I am sure the mogul she is had to weigh the impact of this decision on her bottom line. That’s right, in this society…it’s not just hair. Yes, perhaps this could be a publicity stunt to get us talking about Oprah, BUT had the natural hair movement never come about she would not have a platform to come out onto. That reality makes me smile.
There are some who have a problem with our Blackness being a topic of discussion in mainstream media. There is this tendency to just want to blend in and not constantly be reminded that we are different. Many Blacks don’t want to be told by Whites that natural hair is okay because they say it’s okay. Our validation as Black women or as a people doesn’t come from other races, it comes from each other. Even still, there needs to be the freedom to express oneself as an individual. So, before we think to criticize other women for their hair choices, let’s seek to build each other up.
Oh, and ladies if you are thinking about going natural, but you’re saying to yourself, “Oprah, can go natural because she is a gizillionaire who doesn’t have to work for corporate America and has a team to make her look good.” Stop. Look around you, there are average women just like you and me who are going natural everywhere, successful and loving it.
What are your thoughts about Oprah revealing her natural hair?