The Story Behind Robin Roberts’s Signature Haircut Shows How Far We’ve Come

Here, the Good Morning America anchor and cancer “thriver” — the term she prefers to the more commonly used “survivor” —shares her hair-story.

When I was little my hair was… long and superthick. I wore it in two braids, and because I was always running around, they would get matted and tangled.

Courtesy Robin Roberts

I first cut my hair when… I was a sports anchor at ESPN. Being a woman in sports, especially a woman of color, I felt I was always fighting for credibility. I tried so hard to have that “anchor look,” and short hair was part of that.

Losing my hair to chemo was… the first thing I thought about when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My hair fell out like clockwork after my first treatment. I remember my mom cooking a pot of collard greens in the kitchen, and I came in crying. I put my head on her shoulder and slid down to the floor as she held me, keeping my head away from the pot. She said, “I love you, baby, but not in my collard greens!”

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Robert W Stowell Jr/Getty Images

The thing I’ve learned about hair is… it’s not the be-all and end-all. I walked in Isaac Mizrahi’s fashion show while I was going through chemo. Right before I stepped out, I looked in the mirror and took my wig off. No one knew I was going to do it. I didn’t even know I was going to do it. It was so powerful.

I consider myself a.. cancer “thriver,” not “survivor.” Thank the good Lord I survived, but I don’t want to just survive. In July we announced The Robin Roberts Fund for Cancer Survivorship Research at the ESPYs. Our goal is to support research to improve the quality of life after treatment. No one talks about how it takes such a toll on us physically and emotionally.

Scott Gries/Getty Images

My beauty icon is… My mama. She had the most gorgeous head of hair up until she was 88. She was the most beautiful woman, but she also drove me crazy! She would always tell me to put red lipstick on. She’d say, “Honey, you know I love you, but natural beauty will only take you so far.”

For more stories like this, pick up the September issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download now.

Roberts’s Must-Have Kit

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Courtesy BaByBliss

BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Prima2000

The tiny iron easily catches and straightens Roberts’s short hair, while curling and flipping her ends.

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Courtesy L’Oreal Paris

L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray Extra Strong Hold Precious Oil

A light spritz keeps strands in place. “It brushes out easily too,” she says.

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Courtesy Rucker Roots

Rucker Roots Anti-Frizz Silkening Growth Serum

Formulated with carrot, ginger, and turnip-root oils, this serum imparts a glossy sheen.

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