“I want your hair.” Pause. “Or K’s.” (K is my youngest daughter.)
That was my sister-in-law the other day when she came by my office to pick me up for dinner. While I was finishing up a couple of things she sat behind me waiting, and apparently studying my hair. SIL has stick straight ash blond hair, which is really quite lovely. But as she’s pointed out on occasion, she can’t do much with it. She wears it down or puts it in a pony tail. My own hair is wavy and thick and what they used to call dishwater blond, kind of a mousy brown with lighter highlights, which are natural thank you very much. I’m letting it grow out … again.
If you hated, detested, abhorred your hair when you were a teen don’t feel alone. Didn’t we all?. Can we see a show of hands? [crickets] Oh come on, we ALL wanted to shave our heads at some point, didn’t we? No? I guess it was just me then. No, I didn’t say I shaved my head, just that occasionally…like once or maybe five times a week I wanted to. I did perm it. And bleach it to death at least twice. I think that’s worse than shaving it off, at least for the hair itself. The poor stuff was like straw before I gave up.
As a teen in the early to mid-70s I remember well the fashionable hairstyles Okay, maybe fashionable isn’t quite the word I’m looking for. In my high school the popular girls all wore their hair parted down the middle and straight down their backs, or they’d pull the front back with a hairclip but leave the rest down. The web identified this as no-style basic. Which had me giggling; the cool girls would cringe if they knew they’d had NO STYLE!
Later in the 70s there were wannabe Farrah Fawcett ‘dos everyfuckingwhere. You know what I’m talking about, the feathered look!
Back to high school – if you had curly hair you were déclassé. Girls who wore their hair curly were looked at strangely. Guys could have curls or waves; it made us want to run our fingers through their locks. Admit it! You wanted to!
We had a gym teacher named Miss Jeanette. She was the first free spirit I ever knew; and the girls loved her in spite of her kinky hair. Looking back I remember she wasn’t slim or slender either but she was still very popular. Now that I think of it, it was probably because she was so different from the other teaching staff. She taught regular phys ed and also modern dance. It wasn’t unusual to see her at school in tights and leotards, covered with a filmy, floaty skirt and a shawl of course. She drove an old VW Karmann Ghia convertible. I SO wanted to be her. Miss Jeanette wasn’t pretty in a traditional sense – her hair was kinky remember? And her nose was sort of prominent (think Barbra Streisand). But her smile could light up a room and I loved that she didn’t care what anyone thought. How cool would it have been to feel like that at 17?
Later, as an adult I worked with a young woman who had beautiful curly hair. I mean, S curls that were tight and well-formed. (Boy, did that sound dirty to anyone else? Just me? Okay, I can live with that.) Anne regaled me and the rest of our co-workers with tales of her own school days and wanting to fit in. Because curly hair was not acceptable in her school any more than it had been in mine, she would spend hours each morning ironing her hair! With an iron y’all, a really real iron! Which I imagine caused some really real damage to her locks! When I worked with her, Anne was no longer worried about her naturally kinky curls. They were beautiful and so was she.
It wasn’t until I was 40 that I reached détente with my own hair. Of course there are still bad hair days when I want to yank it all out, but mostly I like it. My youngest daughter too has come to love her hair, which is much like mine, and she’s only 27! I think of all the years she has ahead of her NOT HATING HER HAIR and I smile.