Are We Being Too Hard on Pam Oliver + Her Hair?

Let me say first that I respect Pam Oliver. She’s opened doors from women in sports and on TV and in journalism and that deserves to be acknowledged.

But Ma’am…
Fox’s veteran sports journalist  has been dragged across social media ever since she reported from the sidelines during the NFC Championship Game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, looking like this:


Pam Oliver at the NFC Championship game

Almost instantly, Instagram memes appeared, comparing Oliver to Chewbacca from Star Wars. (I won’t post the picture out of respect.) The state of her hair was also a trending topic on Twitter and a topic of conversation during the Super Bowl where she, to give credit where it is due, looked much better, but still received lots of criticism. I actually thought she looked presentable.



Pam Oliver at the Super Bowl

Oliver addressed all the hubbub in an interview with  She called the commotion over her hair “comical” and also admitted that after 20-plus years in the TV business, she still does her own hair and make-up.

“You’re out there, trying a to catch players, get some last-minute stuff, get your reports turned around quickly, and I may or may not have time to put on lip gloss or powder my face,” Oliver told “I know TV is a visual medium, but there are times when you kind of hope that people are listening to what you’re saying as opposed to judging you if a strand of hair is not in place or if you have only got one eye lined or something.

“That’s naive of me. I get it,” she added. “But there are times I get so tunnel-visioned and focused on what I’m doing to the point of maybe letting that other stuff fall by the wayside. It’s not intentional. You want to look your best on TV.”

I get it. Sorta. Hair and make-up get expensive. I’m a newbie in TV land and there are a lot of unexpected expenses that no one tells you about. Spending money on hair and make-up when there are so many other concerns – like lawyers to protect whatever you are trying to build—can seem like a frivolous expenditure or an unnecessary burden.

I’m fortunate in that I’ve known how to do my hair– natural, permed, sew-in, glue-in, cut, bleach, dye, whatever– from when I was a teenager. (My mother is from Detroit, if that’s any explanation.) This has saved me a TON of money. I also willfully learned how to do my own face in decent enough shape to be seen on TV by reading Kevin Aucoin + Sam Fine make up books + watching YouTube videos. I frequent the MAC counter to get tips and I pay attention when I am fortunate enough to have MUAs beat me when someone else is paying. For big Moments, I splurge to bring in the best I can afford to do me right so I look presentable. I consider this a worthy sacrifice and investment for what I’m trying to do and where I’m trying to go.

TV is a visual medium and pulling a professional look together is part of the job, even as a sports journalist.  And when your hair looks unkempt to the point that it distracts viewers from your professional work, addressing your image is about more than just vanity. It’s a necessity.

Oliver is not a newbie. She’s 20 years in the game and it is clear that while she is an expert at journalism, she is not an expert at make-up or hair. She needs a consistent glam team of beauty professionals to do what they do best so Oliver can focus on what she does best—report. A professional team— even one that cannot be brought onto the field— would help her create looks that are more flattering and that would hold up better in bad weather or other conditions. And if the network won’t provide a team… Hold up, who is Oliver’s agent? That’s a basic ask.


Pam Oliver at her best.

Pam Oliver at her best.

Oliver is a naturally pretty woman. She doesn’t require magic to look presentable. And that’s all she needs to be. Nobody’s asking for her to be Essence cover worthy on the sidelines. But at the point a Google search of your name brings up multiple pics of Chewbacca, it’s time to admit you need help and make the financial sacrifice and investment to bring the experts aboard, even if it comes out of your own pocket.

This is all I’m saying.



Share Button

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. brandib33 says:

    I definitely agree at some point she has to let go of whatever pride she has or the chip on her shoulder and come correct. Being with a major network you are expected to represent a certain image and when your appearance is becoming a distraction you are going to lose in the end .

  2. Why is she on National TV looking like shit, Pam Oliver needs to stop that shit yo. She is talk old to be looking like that.

    • melly says:

      She did NOT look like shit, brother. Gah can you be a little more tactful? Admittedly, her look could use some work but there was no need to be THAT disrespectful.

    • kellani727 says:

      And you’re too old to be cussing and being so disrespectful about a woman! Let’s be real yes she can do better…but dang, so can you!

      Its real easy to talk extra tough about someone’s physical appearance and looking at you I’m sure some folks do the same however it doesn’t make it right.

  3. Fair and thoughtful analysis. Ultimately, I do not think Pam should have to change how she does things, but it would not hurt. I thought her Super Bowl look was a vast improvement over her NFC Championship look. That said, a small glam team would definitely allow her to focus on other things. I know Robin Roberts has one.

  4. Lorri says:

    Pam is holding onto the idea that her work will speak for itself-that thing our parents taught us way back before we realized how we look plays a part in whether we get the part. She needs just one meeting with a team because she has people talking but for the wrong reasons. At the Super Bowl party I attended, the men reacted quicker than the women did with comments and criticism. “She knows better than that!” “Awww nawl Pam! Look at her”……lol maybe a friend will catch her and chat her up about it.

  5. Thank you for chiming in on this. I respect her career, but looks being important and grooming be a high priority isn’t something new for any television personality. It comes with the territory and is part of the job. At this point her hair is becoming a distraction… and not because people are in an uproar that she wants to rock a TWA lol… but her wig is literally disheveled and uncombed majority of the time. The above pic of her at the Superbowl is actually MUCH more flattering than how it looked in real time lol.

    Maybe this is an example of being stubborn and allowing something that is so simple to stand in your way. Plus, who actually wants to go through the effort to have a wig/weave that looks BAD! I mean, you can have your own hair go to shit lol…a weave should be effortless.

    All of this is reading as “lazy” to me, which is a shame because she has a stellar career. I don’t like seeing a black woman, in an industry where women in general are underrepresented, looking like a clown. Are there no people in her corner to help her out? This is when you need your REAL friends to be like, girl.. fix your wig! Even when I throw in clip-ins to go out, I put a friend on weave check lol. Don’t let me be out here slipping.

    Sidebar: Belle, Demetria, Ms. Lucas, Mrs. Future CBW… thank you for bringing fierce hair, side eyes, and common sense to reality tv!!!

  6. Tenitrus says:

    Fox Sports doesnt pay for this type of thing?? I would expect the network to provide such.

    • simone says:

      I always thought in a news station there were hair, makeup and wardrobe stylist. But once I interned at a news station I quickly learned that wasn’t true. The news anchors did their own hair and makeup. And wore their own clothes. Now some of them did get discounts from local boutiques to get promotion.

      • StayTuned says:

        You’re partially right. Most small market and mid size affliliates don’t have MUA and hair people. But when you get to network status, you do. I work in a mid-sized market and even at this level, there are paid consultants who come in, spend the day with you and take you to hair salons, make up counters and boutiques to make sure you are on point.

        Her agent is also partially responsibile. However, I have yet to find one black female agent who represents TV News/Sports people.

        Bottom line, it’s up to her. When you sign up to be on TV, you are asking people to look at you. And trust, when people let you in their living rooms, they think they own you. YOU have to do the work! She’s gotta do better.

  7. Leslie says:

    “Oliver is not a newbie. She’s 20 years in the game and it is clear that while she is an expert at journalism, she is not an expert at make-up or hair. She needs a consistent glam team of beauty professionals to do what they do best so Oliver can focus on what she does best—report. A professional team— even one that cannot be brought onto the field— would help her create looks that are more flattering and that would hold up better in bad weather or other conditions. And if the network won’t provide a team… Hold up, who is Oliver’s agent? That’s a basic ask.”

    Thank you. I was one who admonished Pam Oliver on my FB page the fateful day when her coif was more than askew. I refuse to believe a woman who has won multiple awards, is employed by one of the biggest networks in the world and who has a large contract (I know she makes way more than me in corporate America!) would allow herself on camera in such a fashion. A simple puled back style with perhaps a light sweep of a bang and a headband to tame any errant hairs would have eliminated any references to a creature from a George Lucas movie. *drops the mic and heads back to her corner…

  8. N.W Stewart says:

    I really would like her to represent Woman with a bit of style and class!!! She needs to up her game because trust me she can have 20 plus years in the game but the game changes and she can be put behind the scenes. It’s all about the look for T.V and please she need to hire a GLAM SQUAD!

  9. pow says:

    I don’t think it’s that much of a big deal. When I watched the superbowl, a guy at the party automatically asked me about her hair and said how horrible it is. I had no clue what he was talking about, I thought her hair was descent. It’s after the superbowl that I heard how much people were upset about her hair. Not everyone can afford the best quality wig or tracks or extensions. You don’t know what her priorities or finances are. And so far she’s been having a job with her “horrible hair”. So what is people’s problem? I think people are just being mean, and need to talk about how GREAT she looks for her age. She looks AMAZING!

  10. Wright says:

    This lady is good at what she does. It appears that when it comes to her personal apperance she doesn’t have the common sense to know that her look is 5 thumbs down!! Someone maybe a aspiring up and coming make up artist trying to make a name for themselves will approach her. Approach her in the same way Aundre approached Oprah. In regards to “O” ‘s hair the rest is history!!

  11. GirlieJ says:

    Sometimes, no most of the time, we are our worst critic. No other race criticize members of their group for wearing a weave, having relaxed hair, wearing a makeup, marrying outside our race, etc. The list goes on. We did the same thing to Gabbie Douglas during the Olympics. Why can’t we simply support the lady for doing what she hands-down does best…report on sports? We gotta stop the negativity and hate.

  12. StephyC says:

    She looked a hot mess! I couldn’t focus on what she was saying because of the way she presented her self and kept shaking her head like a bobble Barbie head. I thought wtf is wrong with this chick. Unfortunately, we are visual people and that’s just the way it is. If you’re on national TV during the Superbowl, then you must come with your A-game, just like the competing teams, and represent yo-self and your race to the upmost. I’m sure she can afford hair that costs more than $19.99 a pack and I know plenty of young talented women who could install for $50 – $100.

  13. MalloryK says:

    Does anyone know anything about the weather in Seattle? Ever think about what it could do to your hair if your standing outside in less than optimal weather for HOURS. WE– and by we I mean African Americans–need to stop. We always complain that we don’t see “our” faces doing positive things in the media, but on the off chance that we do have representation in a certain arena WE are the first ones to make negative comments. Other races don’t have to tear us down because we do a damn fine job of that on our own. I bet if any AA woman put herself in this woman’s shoes and stood on the sidelines for hours waiting to get an interview she would look a little frazzled if the weather wasn’t perfect. As a Black woman, it’s so upsetting to read articles that tear other Black women down because you know she has probably worked damn hard and been through a lot just to get where she is. We judge if you’re too “fake and made up” and then tear you down if you’re not made up enough. What happened to the saying “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all”. The major point that we’re all missing is that regardless of what any of you say Pam Oliver will CONTINUE to shine. God bless her.

  14. MalloryK says:

    Oh, this just in…my husband just pointed out that people are “just mean”. I second that and add “also miserable” to the list.

  15. Beth says:

    I LOVE Pam Oliver. I have so much respect for her. She is very intelligent and full of sports knowledge. She is also beautiful!

    But I agree, it may be time, finally, to get her a make up team :)

    I am a huge fan of yours Pam :)

Leave A Reply