I was looking through some old photographs the other day. The one thing I noticed, other than the fact that I used to be cuter… and thinner… was that the hairstyles that were “in” when I was “in” are so… “out” now.
In fact, the more pictures I looked at, the more I realized that nearly every woman my age has gone through the same phases of hairstyles that I did. As a baby, you had those wispy little curls of hair that your daughter had: Those sweet little ringlets of hair that you never wanted to cut.
However, at some point your brother got hold of a pair of scissors and played barbershop with your hair. That’s how you ended up with the bangs you always despised.
From about 4th or 5th grade you decided not to put up with those bangs any longer. They made you look childish. No matter that you were, in fact, still a child. By the time those bangs grew out you wouldn’t be a child any longer, you thought.
So middle school was a hair nightmare of barrettes, head bands, scrunchies and styles that would hide how hideous you looked because you were trying to grow out those bangs. You knew, though, that once they grew out, your braces came off, and you sprouted some breasts, you’d look like a super model. Except that, by that time, the styles would change again and you were supposed to look like Farrah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs – not Twiggy.
Well, heck. Now you have to cut your hair in layers and learn how to use a curling iron. If you look closely, in your high school year book, you are bound to see at least one girl who had to get her picture taken with a curling iron burn on the side of her face. Maybe it was you.
After they starting filling emergency rooms with embarrassing curling iron incidents, celebrities, in a rare moment of solidarity, decided to ditch the curling iron and embrace the curly perm. When the curly perm grew out, the shag hairstyle was born.
The shag only lasted until the layers grew out in the back and what was left was the infamous hairstyle called the mullet. Short on top, long in the back, no curls, no maintenance. The mullet tried to incorporate every hairstyle to date and failed miserably. It really only looked good on Billy Ray Cyrus. Of course, Billy Ray Cyrus would have looked good bald. Who was looking at his hair, anyway? At some point, shortly after the mullet became popular, someone - some influential someone - actually looked at themselves in a mirror, from the side, and said, “Oh…no.” And the mullet was dead.
Here’s where everything gets a little fuzzy. This is perhaps the time when women of my age decided to find a hairstyle that looked good on them individually. There was a lot of guesswork. A lot of walking out of a hair salon having paid a good tip for a style that you were sure you’d grow to adore, but when you arrived home, your husband invariably looked at you as if a Muppet had emerged from your scalp. It was every woman for herself.
You experimented with past styles. You let the hairdresser talk you out of a body wave and turn your head into a Brillo pad in an effort to show you that, with her expensive products, you can look like you have a body wave without actually getting one. You cut it short. You grow it long. You try a rainbow of different shades of hair color. You gel it, spike it, tease it, and toss it.
Finally, you realize that it doesn’t matter what you do with your hair, you are never going to look like a super model because the rest of your body is not cooperating. Then you do what many older women have done: You tell the hairdresser to cut it all off so you don’t have to mess with it anymore. This will make it abundantly clear to anyone who cares to question your decision, that you are not trying to look like a super model, you are merely being practical.