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Tears of Joy When the Perm Was Gone

By January 27th, 20217 Comments
by Richard Prince of The Root and the Maynard Institute
Television’s René Syler Says “I Hope Times Are Changing”

Tears of Joy When the Perm Was GoneThe last time many viewers saw René Syler, she was a co-anchor of CBS News’ “The Early Show,” with her hair chemically straightened and then hot curled. After four years, that job ended in 2006. She dealt with breast cancer surgery and other medical issues, wrote a book about being a “good enough mother,” started a website for those who have been laid off, and freelanced.

For her next job, though, you will see Syler with a new attitude and her hair in its natural, chemical-free state.

“I cannot describe to you the completely freeing experience this has been for me,” Syler told Journal-isms by e-mail on Monday, “how I cried in the chair after the last of the perm was snipped off and I-WAS-FREE! This is such a difficult thing for anyone other than black women to understand, but if you have a moment, do a quick search on YouTube under Big Chop. There are thousands of videos from black women who were like, screw this, I’m out… and have done the same thing as me :)”

Syler was reacting to the story of Rochelle Ritchie of WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla., who decided to let her straightened hair “go natural” during sweeps week and let viewers see the transformation process. It was a ratings success, as reported in this space on Friday.

“I do hope things are changing,” Syler wrote. “I went natural almost two years ago when I had bronchitis and ended up in the hospital. I had a meeting with CNN the next week so when I got out I went RIGHT TO THE BEAUTY SHOP for a touch up. Well, of course, my hair fell right out of my head. It was the last in a series of pretty bad events (I felt like Job!), some of which you know about. Anyway, as traumatic as that was, it was life changing for me in that I decided I would never take another TV job that required me to relax my hair! But over the summer I met with [a television executive] and when I told him my story he said ‘But I LOVE your hair!’ Cut to the chase, I am going back to TV with a project for them . . . It has not been announced yet but I will tell you more as soon as I can. But the bigger issue is I can be ME.. all my God-given curls will be on full display and I LOVE it!

“But that is entertainment where I think diversity of style is a bit more accepted, not so much in TV news, which is why Rochelle’s story is such a big deal. . . . I say all this to say I hope times are changing.”

Syler devoted a Web page to her hair transformation experience.

Republished with permission from The Root and the Maynard Institute


  • Honey says:

    I love rene's message & her hair is just beautiful! On a side-note I did not know that "Job" in the bible was the same person as Prophet Ayyub in the Quran(in arabic his name is pronounced ey-yoob). Patience in adversity is such a beautiful, priceless thing, as Rene displays well.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love Rene's hair. It reminds me of the sun and sun-rays. The flower is the perfect touch. She is natural and classy!! :-)

  • Anonymous says:

    I can't wait to read more about Rene's new TV project. Love her.

  • Anonymous says:

    Lyntee said,
    Great story…….I love it……..Go naturals!

  • ChardaeD says:

    I'm so happy about Rene's comments and Rochelle's story. I asked Rene through CurlyNikki about natural hair in the newsrooms (at the time, I was a journalist), and she told me to just be upfront with a news director about my hair, because honestly– why would you want to work somewhere that doesn't accept who you are? I e-mailed Rochelle after watching her story and commended her for doing what I was always afraid to do. I still work in the industry, just on a different side.

    So ladies, thank you.

  • Anonymous says:

    BTW, Rene your twist out is marvelous–can't wait for my hair to get that length (sigh probably in the spring-time) but I digress…what I have noticed that there are a LOT of black women wearing their hair in its natural state in COMMERCIALS. Everywhere I look, I see it (both coily & curly) and I wonder when these black Hollywood actresses will get with the program to be a model for all those uninformed women.

  • Anonymous says:

    Rene Syler and all black women in the public eye who are expressing their thoughts about this hair issue, are WONDERFUL. This is long overdue. Times ARE changing.
    I am grateful to women like her, who are allowing themselves to be vehicles of change.
    I have been natural for over ten yrs and work in an industry where I see the damage that chemicals/weaves are doing to our hair. I love the fact that we are making the decision to change the course of how we deal with/accept/love ourselves for who we truly are. Hair is just a manifestion of that, in some cases.

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