Pam Oliver’s Hair Controversy

Pam Oliver’s Hair Controversy


Even if you are NOT an avid sports fan, as black women with even the mildest interest in hair then I’m sure you have heard about the controversy surrounding Pam Oliver’s hair.  My father has been expressing disbelief regarding what he deems as a lack of grooming and “bad weave” all football season – even jokingly saying to me “Ebony, Pam needs your help; Send her to your blog!”  I’ll admit, once I caught my first glimpses of her, I had to agree.  The sistah’s hair looks awful.

Fast forward a few months and it seems Pam Oliver’s hair caught nearly everyone’s attention.  People weren’t just talking amongst themselves like my father and I, in this day and age of course not, they took to Twitter and other forms of social media.  Similar to the merciless criticism of poor Gabby Douglass during the 2012 Olympics, fans were brutal in their remarks.  And now with the popularity of Instagram, of course there are a few meme’s floating around…

Pam Oliver's Hair - Longing 4 Length 3

Let me back up a minute, for all our non-American readers, and bring everyone up to speed.  Pam Oliver is an American sportscaster, known for her sideline reporting  for the National Football League (NFL) on FOX network and NBA playoffs on TNT network.  Pretty accomplished, right?  After all, aside from her the only other female sportscaster of color I can think of is Cheryl Miller – and while awesome at her job, Cheryl has an unfair advantage.  She is sister of NBA Hall of Famer, Reggie Miller, and many regard Cheryl as one of the greatest female basketball players of all time.  Pam Oliver on the other hand, worked her way up the sportscasting ranks in a more traditional path beginning with her degree in broadcast journalism from Florida A&M University in 1984.

Pam Oliver's Hair Wig - Longing 4 Length (2)

Another note, most newscasters are responsible for their own hair and makeup.  Even some of the largest, nationally syndicated on-air personalities do not have a glam squad, contrary to popular belief.  So Pam  is responsible for doing her own hair and makeup.  Coupled with the fact that she is a sideline reporter outside in the elements, it is only natural that she is not perfectly coiffed at all times while working.  I’m not taking anything away from her accomplishments, her reporting capabilities, or her job performance.  However, Pam can and should do better with her hair.

Pam Oliver's Hair Wig - Longing 4 Length 2

Perhaps it is a lack of knowledge – maybe she didn’t realize it looks THAT bad.  Maybe this season marks her first foray into the wig wearing realm.  Perhaps she is being misled by her stylist – it has happened to some of the prettiest celebrities.  But with the popularity of YouTube, blogs, and other forms of social media sharing information and step-by-step tutorials…I find any excuse to be just that, an excuse.  You can find a good stylist and view their work simply by searching the appropriate hashtags on Instagram!  It isn’t as if she is wearing her real hair – the whole point of wigs and weave is that they look good while you are able to protect your real hair.  There really is no reason for Pam Oliver to appear on television looking as if she just left Bum-quisha’s kitchen getting her weave tightened up.  The color, the hair quality and the overall craftsmanship are all wrong and way below the standard for any professional woman, let alone one whose responsibilities include appearing on national television.

Pam Oliver's Hair Wig - Longing 4 Length 4

I disagree with the way critics chose to express themselves, and while I love social media and the ability to have free speech, people use it as an excuse to be unnecessarily mean.  However, I do agree that Pam Oliver’s hair looks awful.  It is unfortunate that Black women face issues most women of other races do not have to consider when it comes to our hair.  Fighting frizz, feeling pressured to wear our hair straight on top of the challenges we have in trying to grow our hair and keep it healthy makes maintaining a professional look much more difficult.  I myself have lamented about the challenges I’ve faced in constantly looking “interview-ready” so I get it.  But it is what it is – yes, we do face unique challenges but we must conquer them.  Still in 2014, in many professional fields, there are only a handful of women, and even less women of color.  So we have to be at our best at all times.  Yes it is a double standard but again – it is what it is.

The issue with being overly opinionated via social media is that the message often gets lost.  People dismiss the uproar as silly and overly critical and Pam Oliver is no exception.  She told Jenice Armstrong of the Daily News:  “It’s comical. This whole thing is just comical.” and that she did not plan any changes to her appearance for Super Bowl Sunday.  It is my opinion that people are not overreacting to how badly Pam Oliver’s hair appears and while their delivery may be harsh, I hope someone close to Pam will persuade her to make some changes before the NBA playoffs begin.  Better hair, a custom wig, and perhaps even taking a few private classes from a celebrity stylist to teach her techniques that will keep her looking camera ready.

What do you think?

Is Pam Oliver’s hair acceptable for on-air sportscasting?

  • I used to think it was funny but Pam is comfy with doing her job and not worrying about the rest.

    • Right, it is a lil comical…but in the grand scheme of things, the fact that people are SO focused on her “bad” hair takes away from her job performance in my opinion. I’m not saying she has to be chosen for the cover of Sports Illustrated (although it looks like with her body she could) I’m just saying stop looking crazy. That helps you do your job better!

  • angela johns

    Pam hair is her business! Folks get on my last nerve
    Het some business. She is doing her job, not trying to look a model

    Gee wilakers

    • Isn’t part of her job as an on-air personality to have a “decent” hairstyle? No, she isn’t a model…but never did I say her reporting abilities were not up to par. Thanks for reading AND commenting.

    • Akilah

      I agree. Truth is most women who wear weaves look like she does. So all black women boil down to is how they wear their hair? Folks need to get over it.

  • In the beginning it was comical but it has gotten to be quite mean. However, she does need to improve her look given she is on national tv. No she doesn’t have to look perfect but decent would be a great improvement over her current hot ass mess status. IJS I’m a normal chick but please believe I’m not going out of my house looking like that on my worst day.

    • I agree, the comments are mean. But I’m not sure they are unnecessary. I’m wondering like…nobody TOLD her how bad it looks? Friends, family? A husband or boyfriend? I agree with you decent is not asking too much!

      Thanks for stopping by girlie!

      • I saw someone she said she does her hair…blah blah blah. Plenty of people told her but she honestly thinks she looks fine. I’m sure something will be said when it’s time to renegotiate her contract. Girl, my pleasure. Drop by my place some time:)

  • Om

    Hi Ebony another great post! I live in the Uk so I know nothing about Pam or the hair controversy. I feel it’s partly lack of knowledge and lack of caring. She may feel that she’s a good newscaster, on top of her game and she doesn’t see the need to start making herself over for anyone etc she may even be a little apprehensive about making more of an effort because sometimes it can seem like a never ending thing. There’s no guarantee that the critisicm will stop if she decides to ‘tidy up’ either! I personally feel she could make abit more of an effort etc but she should do it for the right reasons; because she wants to not because she’s being critisiced.

    • Thanks for reading! I’m glad I didn’t forget about my overseas friends and explain. I remember doing a post on reality show stars and someone from the UK was like “um….I don’t know who any of these people are!” and it was such an eye opener for me! hahahaha!

      Great comment, I agree completely.

  • ann62

    So you wrote this post to further tell her that her hair looks bad and she needs to “do something about it”?

    • I actually gave a few direct suggestions…not just a vague “do something.” I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts as well – as always things that are happening in the “hair world” are up for discussion here on L4L.

  • Courtnea2001

    I agree…her hair has looked horrendous this past football season. I really hope someone close to her can convince her to seek some of the same great wigs I see feloow youtubers and bloggers rocking! As someone who struggles with styling my hair I know it can be difficult, but I also know she can do better than that! Great post 🙂

    • Agreed. Any professional black woman has been there. The “what am I going to do with my hair?” question pops up all the time, but there is just too much amazing hair out here for any of us to look crazy.

  • Shawnie

    I’ve been a fan of Pam Oliver for years, so seeing her hair in such various states of disarray is not new to me. What bothers me the most is that she is now subject to nastiness of Twitter, Instagram and other web based applications. Now, by no means do I find her hair acceptable; it is terrible. I noticed Jim Harbaugh looking at her hair, like “wtf is that” during an interview after the loss to the Seahawks. I do not understand why she chooses to look this way. She’s an accomplished professional and she should look that way from head to toe, just like her male and female counterparts. Sadly, her hairstyles or lack thereof, take away from her great talent.

    • I agree with everything you said. And to those who say “Who cares what her hair looks like?” I’m wondering how anyone can not see that it is and has become a huge distraction and is actually detracting from her job performance. But I agree some of the tweets I saw were ridiculously mean…in efforts to be “funny” or get a few retweets.

  • Michelle

    Speaking from a place of honesty, I feel like before I began my hair journey, I was much the same way with regard to hair and styling practices. My hair was short and unhealthy so I felt my only option for it to look presentable is weaved up, and as long as it was weaved up, I thought it looked better than it might otherwise. I’m 100% sure that sometimes I looked a mess. I think when we get so deep into our hair journeys it’s easy to forget there are so many other black women still in the dark about proper hair care, maintenance, and styling. Pam is clearly an example of a black woman in the dark about hair care/Styling. It’s all the more shocking to think that someone with the resources available to her has not yet figured it out. By now, she probably feels like if she were to do better she’d be admitting that the world is right about her hair. My hope for Pam is that she not get caught up in the negativity but still use it to propel her hair choices and allow it to open doors of knowledge regarding haircare. After all, we all had to start somewhere, and most of us were fortunate enough to do so without millions critiquing our hair.

    • Interesting comment, thank you for sharing. I understand your reliance on fake hair to look good. I think a lot of women – even today with all the knowledge we have – still aren’t aware of how to take great care of their hair. I know women who’ve worn weave or braids to grow hair to the middle of their backs only to have it all break off once they stop wearing the fake hair. BUT, I still believe if appearance is part of your JOB and you are wearing fake hair then there really is no excuse. I just hope that she isn’t refusing to change just as a way of being rebellious towards all the criticism.

  • From Mrs. to Mom

    Well dag! I don’t think it looks THAT bad. Like the picture with the red weave- it looks like it been blown in the wind. I didn’t know what all the uproar was about her (as my TV is constantly on ESPN but I just walk right by it) but I can see from a few of the other photos that some work can be done.

    This makes me feel bad because on a daily basis my hair looks 10 times worse than hers does. And while I am not a professional sportcaster all up and down the TV, I probably could do better myself. Do we know if her personal life is a little too hectic for her to spend a lot of time/money on her hair? Poor girl- i hope she gets a good wig and people leave her alone soon.

    • Girl, I am SURE your hair doesn’t look that bad! And I don’t know…I mean, I’m less tolerant of someone’s wig/weave looking bad. That’s the entire point of fake hair – so you can always look good even when your hair isn’t done! lol

  • Judy Mims

    If Fox
    News hired her this way then leave her alone. Do not ask Fox to comb it,and hey maybe they are. On the other hand if they fire her because of her hair than let’s talk. Did not Ophra teache you anything?

    • Thanks for your comment, I don’t fully understand what you are trying to say (sounds like English may not be your first language) but thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      • Judy

        I had just came in from work when I made my comment and was a bit tired, Your comment ” English may not be your first language”, is not going to keep me from getting my point across. If Fox News is not complaining about Pamela’s hair why should anyone? Oprah Winfrey wore a close cropped Afro when she started out there were critics than and there are critics now. Oprah is now a wealthy woman and they still try to critique her. In Oprah’s and Pam’s case “I don’t believe either were hired for their hair”. On the other hand if Pam is fired because of her hair,let the controversy begin. So in the end… Oprah has taught us all (who chooses to hear) it is our character that has body shine and length.

        • No problem, I wasn’t being shady – I truly thought it was a language barrier or auto-correct issue. Thanks for coming back by to clarify thoughts. Now to your point, Oprah’s hair was well groomed. Whether folks liked the style or not is another issue. I’m not asking Pam to change her STYLE. I’m asking her to do it is all. Oprah, Michelle Obama, and every other successful Black woman have taught us a lot but appearance does mean something. We may disagree on what is considered “good” but the fact that it does indeed matter is universal.

          • Judy

            This lady is clearly by the photos that she, is out in the wind and on a football field. And one picture goes further to suggest “game over” and her hair is done. I must say that she is lacking a cowlick to throw her hair back in place once its blown in the wind. Hey I have an idea maybe with all the gels, creams and weaves YOU have, maybe you can offer Mrs. Pam Oliver your services…problem solved. Better use enough hairspray. Thanks

          • Lol, I’ll tweet her and see if she’d like my services. 🙂

  • T Barry

    I’ll fast forward the game or just change the channel..