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A 21-year-old newscaster wore her natural hair on TV for the first time — and people are inspired

INSIDER logoINSIDER 8/7/2018 dboan@businessinsider.com (Daniel Boan)
a person standing in front of a monitor: Dana Whyte reporter natural hair tweet © Provided by Business Insider Inc Dana Whyte reporter natural hair tweet

Celebrities like Lupita Nyong'o to Solange Knowles have been leading the charge for more natural hair representation in the media. While the movement has certainly made progress, the slick, straightened "anchor bob" still seems to be the expected style for on-air personalities in local news, regardless of race, Refinery29's Khalea Underwood recently wrote.

One local reporter recently shared her experience of wearing her natural hair on-air for the first time, and the response has been inspiring.

On Sunday, Dana Whyte, a 21-year-old reporter for Michigan's WLNS News, posted a photo of the moment with her followers on Twitter following the broadcast.

"I wore my natural hair on tv for the first time ever today!" Whyte wrote on Twitter. "This has been an internal battle that I've been struggling with ever since I decided to become a reporter. Finally feeling true to myself."

The tweet quickly went viral, with several people calling the moment "inspiring" and "beautiful."

Whyte said in an interview with Teen Vogue that she had been straightening her hair since starting as a full-time reporter in May. The damaging effects of the constant straightening started to make her hair fall out, which prompted her to think more about the expectations placed on her appearance.

"Straightening my hair every day felt like I was trying to conform to a certain image that society wanted me to be," Dana told Teen Vogue. "Now, I feel like I'm not hiding behind a mask and can fully be myself. I hope this helps others know that they can do the same."

This societal pressure has been a long-standing obstacle for women of color in the workplace, and one that seems to be especially present in the broadcast news industry.

One of the earliest instances of the resistance to on-camera natural hair came in 1971 with reporter Melba Tolliver. She told The New York Times that when she switched to wearing her natural hair, the executives at WABC Television told her she couldn't appear on-air because they felt her new hairstyle made her look "less attractive." More recently, in September 2015, WNCT News intern's hair prompted a major discussion when she was told by a peer at school that it could be "distracting" for television viewers.

According to Refinery29, a 2018 study by the Women's Media Center found that only 12.6% of local TV news staff are women of color. Despite this lack of representation, Whyte said she's noticing some shifts in attitudes towards natural hair, but she hopes to push the discussion further.

"I think natural hair in journalism is becoming more common, but it still has a long way to go in terms of acceptance," she told Teen Vogue. "Representation is so important. Little girls sitting at home watching the news need to be able to see someone who looks like them on television, so they know it's possible for that to be them one day."

Whyte did not immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment. Read her full interview on Teen Vogue


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