On the cover of September’s O Magazine, cover lady Oprah Winfrey can be seen rocking a natural hairstyle for the very first time, a style which I think looks truly great on her.
This is not actually the first time Oprah has worn her hair this way; Oprah.com notes that she often wears her hair natural (i.e. not blow dried or straightened) “on weekends and on vacation,” and that it makes her feel “unencumbered.” But of the many, many professional cover shoots Oprah has done for her eponymous magazine, this is the first time the 58-year-old lifestyle guru has gone with a natural style.
I guess I should add a disclaimer here that as a straight-haired white person, I don’t feel totally qualified to comment on the haircare options of African American women. But it seems to me that in a society where black women are told from birth that the way their hair looks naturally is “bad,” unprofessional, un-pretty, etc., and Caucasian models are held up as the primary standard of beauty, it’s no coincidence that the majority of prominent black women decide to straighten their hair. (A phenomenon Chris Rock examined at length in his documentary Good Hair.) To see Oprah, one of America’s biggest celebrities and style icons, wear her hair natural on the cover of a magazine has got to be at least a little bit encouraging to women who’ve been made to feel bad about the way their hair looks by various cultural forces.
I am by no means saying black women should wear their hair this way; I think black women should wear their hair however they feel like wearing it. But if seeing Oprah looking gorgeous on the cover of a magazine helps combat negative stereotypes about African American hair, and maybe emboldens a few more women to try out a new look, that can only be a good thing.
Photo: O Magazine