Beauty & Fashion
rene syler: my path to self discovery
Our "Good Hair" episode this week sparked a lively debate about treated vs natural hair and what it says about a woman. One thing we learned from the conversation is that hair is as much about how a woman feels inside as it is how she looks on the outside.
Friend of Ricki Rene Syler: Like a lot of African American women, I admit to having a love-hate relationship with my hair. Actually, it was more just hate. Since the age of 16, I had been relaxing the natural curl out of it and that which wasn’t taken care of by chemicals, I worked over with a curling iron.
So what happened? How did I get here and what did I learn? Glad you asked.
My name is Rene Syler and I make my living in front of the camera. I was a local news anchor for years before taking a job at CBS as one of the co-anchors of The Early Show in 2002.
In 2006, my life was turned upside down; I was fired from my job two weeks before I was slated to have a preventive mastectomy. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I was hospitalized with a raging case of bronchitis.
When I got out of the hospital I went right to the hairdresser; after all it has been four weeks since my last chemical straightening (I have since learned I was straightening my hair too much, along with heat and color). What happened next was the stuff of nightmares for people who make their living in front of the camera: my hair started falling out!
As awful as that sounds, it was actually the first step in finding my true self. I had no idea what to do with my hair, even though I had a daughter with waist length curly locks. So I did what any journalist would do; I started investigating. First stop: YouTube.
I learned all the pertinent things for caring for my curls, things like giving up shampoo (I cleanse my hair with conditioner only), no direct heat and using natural oils on my scalp. You know something? All that love I showed to my hair was reciprocated! [Read Rene's 8 Tips]
But the physical aspect was just one part of my journey. This truly was for me, the path to self-discovery and self-love. Remember I said I had a love-hate relationship with my hair? Yeah, well, no more. It’s all love all the time. I think I know why. I’m no longer trying to make my hair do something it was not designed to do and instead, am accepting it for what it is; curly, wavy, unique hair that fits me to a “T”. As I tell people, for the first time in my life, I look in the mirror and the me on the outside matches me on the inside.
But what about TV? Yes, it’s true that natural hair is making some in roads, but I have yet to see it embraced in some factions of television. Entertainment? Yes. TV News? Not so much.
That was one factor that led me to make the decision to leave TV News in my past. And I made a big decision: I would never again put another chemical on my head. I’m natural now and forever more and have fully embraced my curls and who I am.
Now, if only I could make peace with the gray!
Rene Syler is a former TV news anchor and now host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network. The busy mom of two is author of Good Enough Mother; The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and founder of Goodenoughmother.com. Along with creating content for her site, Rene writes for a number of others, including Babble.com and is a sought after public speaker and frequent television guest. Rene lives in Westchester New York with her husband Buff and their kids, Casey and Cole.