News anchor lauded for sporting natural hair on air: ‘You give us journalism girls a lot of inspiration’

Justin Chan
·4 mins read

A Florida news anchor has gone viral after sharing photos of herself sporting her short, natural hair on air.

On Sept. 9, Lena Pringle, an anchor at WJXT News4Jax in Jacksonville, Fla., posted the photos of her natural taper cut on Twitter, where it was retweeted nearly 11,000 times.

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“Shoutout to the people who told me I wouldn’t be able to get/keep a broadcast news job with a short natural haircut,” she wrote. “Joke’s on you, huh?”

The tweet drew praise from fellow Twitter users, who responded in admiration.

“You are stunning!” WHDH anchor Amaka Ubaka, who is based in Boston, wrote. “You look fly and can’t anyone say nothin!! Keep gettin it. Being you is what sets you apart!”

“This is wonderful,” Jason Frazer, a meteorologist at WKYC in Cleveland, added. “Shout out to your [news director] for letting you rock this. I wish more TV stations in Jacksonville and across this country would let women do this. I won’t call any TV station out but its time to eliminate those outdated views of what a broadcaster should ‘look like.'”

At least one Twitter user thanked Pringle for being a role model to Black women looking to enter the journalism industry.

“Thank [you] for this!” the user wrote, including a photo of herself with her cropped hairstyle. “You give us journalism girls a lot of inspiration.”

In an interview with Today Style, Pringle revealed that, while she hasn’t received any criticism at work for wearing her natural hair, she recalled a time when her professors, mentors and internship coordinators advised her to wear her hair straight.

“I remember being in college and I remember them saying, ‘You have to have straight hair. It has to be long. It has to be spotless, it has to be colored … natural hair isn’t going to keep you in the industry. It’s too distracting; it’s too urban,'” Pringle explained.

Pringle’s sentiment is one shared by many Black women in the workplace. According to a study by Dove, Black women are 80 percent more likely to change their natural hair in order to meet social norms or expectations at the office. Perhaps more concerning is that Black women are also 1.5 times more likely to have reported being sent home or know of a Black woman sent home from the workplace because of her hair.

Pringle said that at the time of her hire, wearing her natural hair at work was “non-negotiable” for her. She has sported her short hair since 2018, though she decided only recently to wear her hair as short as it is now.

“I have just kind of been in a mental slump lately and have been really trying to work to keep my spirits up, and I’m a true believer of when you look good, you feel good,” she said.

Since her tweet, Pringle, who was the first Black person to wear her natural hair at the station, said the support has been overwhelming.

“I shed some tears because I was just like, I just can’t believe that little old me, you know, an anchor reporter in Jacksonville, has been able to inspire people who I will never meet,” she said. “And it just reminds me of how important and essential representation is.”

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