By Beth Greenfield, Shine Staff | Beauty – Fri, Feb 28, 2014 5:22 PM EST
Pam McKelvy, still bewigged. Photo: WMC-TV
A brave Tennessee news anchor who recently beat cancer decided to confront another big demon last week — vanity — by whipping off her wig for a live and emotional on-air reveal.
“I’m going natural. No more relaxers to straighten my hair,” announced Pam McKelvy of WMC-TV during a broadcast (see video below) on Wednesday, still wearing her smooth-haired wig and introducing a preproduced segment about women and their “crowns of glory,” in which she discusses how recent chemotherapy treatments caused her to go bald. After the segment, her wig was off, revealing her recently grown-in head of short, lovely curls. “All right, this is it. This is my new hair,” said the former beauty queen and 15-year TV news vet, tearing up as she thanked co-workers for being so supportive during her breast-cancer ordeal. (At the end of the broadcast, the spirited co-anchor seated next to her showed everyone what she meant by touching her arm and exclaiming, “We love you baby, you look good. You look good, child!”)
The Memphis anchor and mother of one first got up close and personal with her viewers in 2012, when she shared her struggle with the disease, including details of a double mastectomy, and even undergoing chemo on the air. Last week, she encouraged self-love for her viewers.
An emotional McKelvy, after the big reveal. Photo: WMC-TV
“I made my choice also because I think about the message I send to young women about confidence and self-acceptance,” she said, giving a special shout-out to 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke, the biracial Florida student who was threatened with expulsion if she didn’t tame her “distracting” natural hair. “The times are changing, and God’s delivered me with a brand-new spirit and a head full of hair, and here it is.”
The cultural movement of black women going natural has exploded in recent years, with many style and support blogs popping up around the issue. For McKelvy, going without her wig has been an empowering move. “I want everyone to know that no matter what you go through, it’s not about what’s on the outside, it’s about what’s on the inside,” she stressed. “And I feel, on the inside, I am more radiant and beautiful than I’ve ever been.”
It was a fierce and amazing TV moment — one that was self-sabotaged, if just briefly, by McKelvy’s unfortunate follow-up: “And I look at those [old, straight-haired] pictures and I don’t even recognize myself, particularly because I was so thin!”
Sigh. Well, one issue at a time, right?