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I've had my current haircut since I was 18 years old. Everyone used to say, "Oh, wow, she's got Halle Berry hair," but the truth is, it's fashioned off of Anita Baker. My boyfriend at the time was absolutely obsessed with her. He just loved her. And I wanted to have Anita Baker hair.
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OK, so I was 18. It was a young woman's decision.
So, when I got into cable news, my hair was already short. And it had been short when I worked back in Chicago for 10 years, too. I never really thought about it one way or another. I just had short hair.
But then I came to the national news stage, and I arrived just around the time when bloggers were beginning to chime in with their opinions and all that stuff was going on. And I remember reading the cruelest, most awful thing about my hair online. A person speculated about who I was as a person and even read into my personal life based solely off my hairstyle. He or she said I must be lazy because I have short hair.
It was my first encounter with something like that online, and I tried to be strong, but it was sort of devastating. Honestly, it was.
In fact, if you look at pictures of me on TODAY back in 2009, you'll see that I started to grow out my hair to a little bob, or something like a bob. I really let it get to me. Finally, one day, my mother said something to me about it, and I went immediately and cut my hair.
I've finally learned that this is what I like, and this is how I look best. And that's great.
On holidays and vacation, I wear my hair natural, and sometimes I'll still do it on air. The first time I ever wore my hair natural on air was after I'd been out in the wilderness filming with Bear Grylls. I had a flight back in the middle of the night, and I'd planned on getting my hair done straight. But it's a process, and I just did not feel like going through that that day.
I had to be in early, and I was exhausted. So I just washed my hair and slept on it. I even woke up with the intention of straightening it, but I was so physically tired.
Yes, I knew people would notice. But I certainly did not realize my hair would become a whole topic of conversation in magazines and newspapers.
In the end, I don't mind that attention; in fact, I think it's good. It speaks to the fact that a portion of our identity is tied to things like hair and makeup. That's something I recognize through my fashion choices.
And more than anything, it's a connection. I know sometimes people will make a fuss about, "Well, why do people care about what our hair and makeup look like on TV?" And the truth is, it's a connection with our viewers. It's connective tissue. It allows our audience to say, "Hey, I love that lipstick, where can I get it?" or "What foundation color is that?"
And I enjoy being able to connect in that way.
As told to TODAY's Rebekah Lowin