News Anchor & Cancer Survivor Dares To Bare Real Hair On Air


It’s not uncommon to see a cancer patient, who is or has undergone chemotherapy, wearing a wig to cover up awkward hair growth or baldness. Ever wondered why that is? Perhaps it is because they fear not being seen as “beautiful” without their hair? Why is our society so obsessed with hair? We love it so much, we go to extreme lengths such as clip-ins, extensions, weaves, wigs, and chemical treatments such a dyeing to prove our love for it. Sound ridiculous? Perhaps it is, and it’s time we started flipping the script a little.

We’ve already seen two girls and beauty bloggers Karina Xavier and the late Talia Joy Castellano showing a generation of young women why being bald is beautiful and how to step out with confidence sans hair. Let’s not forget Canadian model Elly Mayday whose contract with a lingerie company was actually enhanced by her baldness, showing that even cancer survivors want to feel beautiful and sexy, and give hope to others.

In the deep south of America, Memphis Tennessee to be exact, there is a female news anchor who is joining the fight against stigmatized beauty and bringing hope to many other women who have also been through cancer, and chemotherapy. Pam McKelvy works for WMCTV5 told her loyal viewers in 2012 that she was diagnosed with stage 2 carcinoma cancer, and allowed cameras to follow her as she started chemo and underwent a double mastectomy.

Today she is standing strong, and decided to use her experience as an excuse for a special report which was aimed at empowering women. She showed a video piece about how obsessed our culture is with hair, especially among black women who go to such lengths as chemically straightening their hair regularly. She also points out how for women in TV this obsession is intensified because of the daily scrutiny and criticism they get about their appearance.

“Hair is a billion dollar industry…it’s safe to say for some women, hair is sacred…My hair was my signature, but ten days after starting chemo, I was completely bald,” she starts off saying.

Pam, who has been a speaker at various Memphis Think Pink luncheons to raise awareness and funds for cancer, made the decision to stop wearing a wig for good on air and wanted to do this to empower other women.

“I made my choice also because I think about the message I send to young women about confidence and self-acceptance.”


She goes on to talk about 12 year old Vanessa VanDyke from Florida, a biracial girl, who was told by her teachers to chemically straighten her hair because her natural afro was too distracting. She was threatened with expulsion by Faith Christian Academy if she didn’t comply. The Miami New Times’ Munzenreider, when reporting on this story back in November 2013 had this excellent comeback:

“No official word on how God feels about this Christian school threatening to kick VanDyke out over her hair, but sources confirm that God did indeed give VanDyke her curly hair in the first place. Sources further state that Jesus himself wasn’t much of a fan of haircuts.”

It sends a bad message to so many women when we judge someone according to their looks, and even more extreme, threaten some form of punishment which sends the clear message “you aren’t ok the way you are.” Disgusting…

Pam talks about racism and sexism underscoring these issues heavily, and we need to start seeing the positive attitudes re-shaping old mindsets. For her part, she says God giving her a head full of brand new hair as well as a brand new spirit is something worth talking about.

After revealing her natural hair when the camera comes back to her, she tears up a little and thanks the people at her station for the support they’ve given her.

“I want everybody 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. On the inside I am more radiant and beautiful than I’ve ever been.”

A perfect message to not just the women of Memphis who watch Pam on a daily basis, but to women everywhere who need a little judge of confidence to help them in the right direction. Your beauty within will always outweigh your physical appearance in value, because you can’t fake it, and it is uniquely yours.

Action News 5 – Memphis, Tennessee


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