One of our favorite shows featuring a powerful woman, ABC”s “Scandal” recently celebrated its 100th episode. In honor of this milestone, creator and mastermind Shonda Rimes shows her audience how thing could have been for star crossed lovers Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant, including Olivia rocking her naturally curly hair for the entire episode. If you haven't seen it yet, be warned there are spoilers ahead.
In the alternate reality episode, Olivia and Fitz are happily married, as he never won the Presidency. Life for Olivia's Gladiators is far from exciting, but safer and more tame. Not long after Fitz looses the election, Olivia bids farewell to her silky-smooth, professionally treated hair and allows her curls to be on display in their natural glory. On her fictional wedding day, Olivia's hair is drawn up into an elegant, pearl studded bun with just enough of her natural texture peeking through. When she takes on her Washington clients, she allows her curls and kinky coils to be free and unadorned.
While Olivia has been shown with her natural texture in the past (think island getaway with Jake and her kidnapping) it has been noted by the show's followers that she always has her hair straightened when it comes time for her to go to work. What this projects is the on going social ideal that in order for a woman with natural hair to be successful in the business world, she must tame her mane. Additionally, her glamorous work wardrobe of designer dresses and stiletto heels is pared down to oversized sweaters, similar to what she wears for a night on her sofa with wine and popcorn.
The choice to create an alternate reality in which Olivia wears her natural curls is curious. What was Shona Rimes trying to relate to her viewers? Is she perpetuating the myth that in order to be perceived as a powerful, in charge business woman one must treat their natural curls? Is she offering a commentary on the work and time commitment that it takes to maintain healthy natural curls? Some women opt to straighten their hair in order to cut down on the time they spend caring for it. Regardless, seeing an entire episode of Olivia Pope's wild, natural and beautiful curls was enough to make our hearts flutter! Here's to hoping we get to see even more strong female characters in their naturally curly state.