Oprah's natural hair debut stirs controversy

Aug. 2, 2012 at 10:20 AM ET

O, The Oprah Magazine /
Hairy situation? Oprah revealed her natural hair on the latest cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, but some have criticized the 'do, saying it's not authentic.

By Hilary George-Parkin, Styleite

After more than 12 years of monthly publication, "O, The Oprah Magazine" is finally featuring its favorite cover star, Oprah Winfrey, with her hair au naturel — no blow dryer, no flat iron, just a mop of tight curls framing her smiling face.

Inside the September 2012 issue (on newsstands Aug. 7), the TV mogul says sporting her natural texture makes her feel “unencumbered” (we say it makes her look fabulous). The 'do, pegged to September’s annual “makeover issue,” seems to take years off the 58-year-old celebrity's face and gives her that Beyoncé-in-the-summertime look that we love so dearly.

It wasn’t always the hairstyle Oprah wanted, though, as she explains:

“I wanted to wear it close-cropped, à la Camille Cosby, but her husband Bill convinced me otherwise. ‘Don’t do it,’ he said,” she recalls. “‘You’ve got the wrong head shape and you’ll disappoint yourself.’ I took his advice.”

It's a seemingly authentic and honest interview, but not everyone has had a positive reaction. To find out why, Fashionista tackled the controversy now surrounding Winfrey’s hair, delving into the scary underworld of Internet commenters.

First, many simply don't believe it's Oprah's real, non-styled hair. On People Style Watch, for example, commenter Nubienne expressed her dissatisfaction:

“I don’t blame non-black people for loving it and believing Oprah when she says this is her 'natural' hair but this B.S. is what makes actual kinky-haired women feel inferior because THIS is a LIE. This is NOT what most black women have on their heads unless they are mixed at some level and, no, you don’t have to be light to have mixed hair. “

Yet some have leaped to Oprah's defense, attesting that their own natural hair looks very much like Oprah’s even though they're not of mixed descent.

Others, commenting on urban fashion site Fashion Bomb Daily, seized the opportunity to express their wishes that Michelle Obama likewise embrace her natural hair. Their argument: The FLOTUS is looked up to by so many that such a choice would help young girls across the country with similarly-textured locks feel good about it in the face of a culture that idolizes smooth, straight, glossy strands.

We’ve gotta say, we agree them on that last point — if Viola Davis turning up to the Oscars with a natural ‘do made such a splash in the media, imagine what would happen if the First Lady switched up her hair game.

But regardless of whether Mrs. Obama follows Oprah’s lead and ditches the straighteners, this eye-catching magazine cover — starring a curly-tressed version of one of the country’s most celebrated African-American women — is certainly a step in the right direction.

What do you think about Oprah's natural look? Let us know!

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