Last week, when Sarah Palin popped onto the set of Oprah’s “Fridays Live” program (via satellite from Wasilla, Alaska) she gave the talk show host pause. No, it wasn’t that she’s pregnant again. It was her hairstyle. The front looked basically the same as most of us are used to seeing it, but this time the back was a bevy of drop curls.
“Look at your hair!” Oprah exclaimed in astonishment. "What did you do to your hair?"
There was an awkward pause, which I assumed was due more to satellite technology than Palin hunting, I mean, fishing for an answer. Still, it was hard to tell. Who wants to be put on the spot when they think they’re looking cute?
"Do you like it?" Palin cheerfully — if not nervously — replied. "I tried to look like you."
"Yes, I'm not used to you having that many curls," said Oprah. "It's kind of cute, but I was just surprised to see you pop up there with the curls. Great. What's the weather like in Wasilla today?”
Regardless of what Oprah truly thought of Palin’s business in the front, party in the back ‘do, “kind of cute” is not a compliment. “Kind of” is kind of a diss.
Surely Oprah Winfrey has endured her fair share of comments about her various changing coiffures over the years. The queen of daytime television has worn more styles than Beverly Johnson offers in all of her collections combined. And I’m willing to bet that many of these comments and questions Oprah’s put up with have probably come from people who wouldn’t know how to use a hot comb to save their lives.
From homeroom, to the boardroom — sometimes even the bedroom — black women have had to defend a myriad of decisions about what they opt to do with their hair. And it sucks. I couldn’t help but wonder if that was at least partly where Oprah’s response was coming from, if it had more to do with her personal hairstory than the hockey mom in front of her.