A lifetime of bad hair days

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I routinely get Facebook posts from an entertainment website called “Grew Up in the ’70s and ’80s,” and had to laugh when it recently declared this observation about the telltale 1980s hairstyles most of us remember: “Hair so big it had its own ZIP code!”

The puffed up, curly hairdos of the ’80s were the gateway to coolness during that dubious decade. Thankfully I was a young mother in my 20s and escaped those wild hairstyles for the most part, although I permed my shorter hair back then and I’m not sure it was all that attractive. This recollection led me to an even longer trip down memory lane, and I realized most of my formative years were one big, bad hair day.

It started in first grade when my mother had put curlers in my bangs the night before school pictures. One of the two curlers fell out during the night, so one side of my bangs was straight, the other curled. It made for a lop-sided look as I grinned with my little white horned-rim glasses that probably diverted attention away from the bi-level bangs. I still wonder why Mom didn’t remedy my hairdo before sending me to the bus that day.

By third grade Mom was into giving not only herself tight, curly perms (a style she’s sported most of her life) but also me, the only daughter. That school photo shows me with permed hair and a gray, wool jumper. I look like an 80-year-old in an 8-year-old body. Yikes.

And it didn’t get better by fifth grade when the flip was all the rage. You didn’t dare put curlers in your hair back then without slathering Dippity-Do on your hair to hold the curls. My school photo that year, circa 1967, shows me with my flipped out hair and very crooked, broken dark brown horn-rimmed glasses. Those pictures never should have seen the light of day.

By the early 1970s there was no style at all for most of us high-school girls, other than long and straight. “Hair,” the musical, was going strong on Broadway, glorifying long hair with lyrics that declared: “Gimme head with hair, Long beautiful hair, Shining, gleaming, Streaming, flaxen, waxen...”

At my college dorm in 1975 it was all the rage to iron your long hair (apparently this was before straighteners were invented), especially if you had any hint of natural curls. Straight was the style, period.

Just as I have regrets — and some possible embarrassment about the hairstyles I chose in my youth — my daughters apparently have those same regrets, except they’re blaming me. Both daughters wanted — and got — mullet haircuts (short on the sides and long in back, with bangs) in the early ’90s.

“Mom, how could you let us get mullets?” they’ve asked persistently when leafing through old photo albums.

“Because that’s what you wanted,” I keep telling them. They remain horrified.

Even worse, apparently, is the “mushroom top” cut I imposed on my younger daughter. She now claims that hairstyle brought her to tears when she was 5 because she was teased about it. I continue to defend it. It was adorable.

These days, anything goes. Long, short, shaved, colored, you name it, it’s out there. But ladies, if you want to be on the cutting edge of hair this year, Harper’s Bazaar advises you’ll want one of these ’dos: the textured “cool girl” bob, long ’60s-inspired fringe, top knots and choppy crops. And apparently the ’70s shag is back. No mention of the mullet, however.

News editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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