The woman who snubbed Oprah’s advice

Posted on June 1st, 2010 by Gina

Goldie Ingersoll knows you should be careful what you wish for.  She received a call from Oprah Winfrey’s producer while she was in the shower and did a dripping victory dance in her towel while bewildered children watched, not understanding that their mother had been chosen for a famous Oprah Makeover. Two days later she was on a red-eye flight to Chicago, where she was picked up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday and whisked by limo to a dentist’s office for a day of Zoom teeth whitening treatments. There she met several of the other hopeful and excited Oprah Makeover candidates.

The next day was all about clothes. “We were ushered into Saks Fifth Ave. to the upper level exclusive dressing rooms. There we met our stylists and spent the day trying on shoes, dresses, pants, blouses, Spanx … and we were all given a bra fitting and new undergarments. (Wa-Hoo!!)”

So far, so good, she and her companion sister were thinking as they arrived on Monday at Harpo Studios. “Before” shots were taken in the “frumpy” outfits they were told to bring from home, and then the process began in a temporary salon built behind Oprah’s main set. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Goldie describes, she and eight other women were “bleached, plucked, polished and waxed” for their on-stage transformation. Each woman had her own producer who reevaluated the “dramatic change” every couple hours. One poor contestant had her hair dyed three times that day.

Goldie didn’t want to dye her hair. She comes from a family of “happy, white-haired women” and was quite proud of her locks. She used to joke that the only person who could get her to dye her hair was Oprah, and now that day had arrived.

“The head hair lady, Rita Hazen and her assistants, walked around me and stared at my hair. They felt it, took notes and then came back to give me ‘the talk.’ ‘We’ve decided that your best look is blond!’ Say what??, I sputtered!” But they insisted. “They said I wouldn’t notice the root grow-out as much as a blond … it would be ‘easy’ to keep up with this look, so, I became an Oprah Blond that day. My head was burned so much from the bleach that my scalp skin peeled off after I got home. NOT glamorous at all!!”

Tuesday morning she went back to Harpo for the taping, which was a lot of parading around on the set to the applause of a wishful audience. Directly afterwards they had a brief photo-op with Oprah and then the limo driver took them to the airport and it was all over – “except for the dang Oprah Blond sitting like shredded wheat on top of my head!”

“My blond hair looked good for the camera. My sister loved it. My husband loved it. I hated it. It was harsh. My hair was dry as straw and my poor scalp looked and felt like the Mojave Desert! My husband convinced me to keep it for a year. Reluctantly, I agreed and marked the date on my calendar. Exactly one year later I stopped and have never dyed my hair again.”

Goldie explained to LookinGood that this makeover routine had nothing to do with the person chosen: it’s all about TV drama. From her description, they choose people who will look good on camera, present well and can showcase new style and esthetic technique, then they gussy them up for one day on camera – and send them home. Goldie didn’t learn a thing from the specialists. “There was no advice for you to take home,” she laughed, “except maybe that jewel tones look good one everyone.”  Big help.

What she did learn was about the process and something about herself. She hated the chemicals and what it did to her scalp and is still a bit baffled that no one listened to her during the session. She hated the maintenance of color and trying to achieve the same result each time. She hated the expense. But the biggest reason was simple: “I felt less authentic,” she said.

In the end, maybe she did end up with a makeover of sorts after all.


Diana Lewis Jewell was Goldie’s inspiration for going back to her natural gray.  Jewell will appear on The Today Show, Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

3 Comments on “The woman who snubbed Oprah’s advice”

  1. Lulubell

    We all know that a true make-over starts from the inside. We can change our body shape and buy fabulous new clothing and yes, even color our hair to make our outer selves look fantastic, I know, I have done all of this and more. Yet, it wasn’t until I made the decision to embrace my natural silvers, just like Goldie, that I truly felt happy with who I was. I can pull on a pair of old, friendly jeans and a funky T-shirt, whisk on some shiny lip gloss, toss my silver-streaked hair and feel completely happy with myself!! Goldie is surely an inspiration to all women who would like to get off of the color merry-go-round and live life “their” way, on “their” own terms and not buy into what the “beauty experts” preach. Thankfully, sites like Going Gray Looking Great exist, women today need all of the support and encouragement they can get!! Thanks also to “lookingood” for this great article!!

  2. louann reising

    Love the story and love Golde telling it!! I love that she embraces her gray! I did not always love the gray and in fact spent many years and lots of “bucks” fighting it, but now I love it and love Going Gray Looking Great website. It’s nice to hear and see the stories of the women who have left the bottle behind!
    Thank you for this great article Gina!

  3. Darlene Mahon

    Wow! Terrific story! I love it. Having traveled this journey with Goldie (I am the companion sister!) I can honestly say that Goldie’s inner beauty shines through no matter what color her hair is. It takes courage to embrace authenticity in a society that relishes replication. Hats off to you, Sis!

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A short history of cosmetics

150BC Romans use yellow eye shadow.

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http://www.factoidz.com/