he image: The September issue of O, The Oprah Magazine just hit stands, and the joyous cover model is, predictably enough, Oprah herself. One key difference: Oprah is wearing her hair naturally, with no blow drying, chemical treatments, or straightening. (See the image at right and below.) Oprah typically sports the au-naturel look on the weekends and on vacation, but never in public. Oprah notes that, like many black women, she's long had a complicated relationship with her hair, and at one point considered cutting it all off. "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."
The reaction: This is definitely a "notable occasion," says Dodai Stewart at Jezebel. From a young age, black women are socialized to believe that their hair is somehow bad or "uncivilized" — the preponderance of black women with straightened or chemically treated hair in ad campaigns seems to imply that the natural, kinky version is a no-no. So it's a "big deal" that Oprah is proudly sporting her "beautiful" natural look. Absolutely, says Hilary George-Parkin at Styleite. "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." Take a look:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why is it so expensive to build a bridge in America?
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- Don't worry: World War III will almost certainly never happen
Subscribe to the Week