Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Story of my Big Hair

My last entry was about men’s combovers, toupees and moustaches. I suppose in the interest of equality we need to address the Big Hair issue also. When I think of the torture I put my hair through as a girl/young woman, it’s a miracle that I have any left on my head.

When I was in high school if your hair didn’t match the width of your shoulders you just weren’t part of the In Crowd. Everyone “set” their hair every night on brush rollers and then somehow managed to sleep all night on them. Those who couldn’t find rollers big enough to satisfy their needs in Woolworth’s had their mothers save juice cans, cut out both ends and wrapped their hair around them. In the morning it was imperative that you allow at least an hour just to fix your hair. This consisted of giving your hair one more coat of hair spray before you took the rollers out, letting the lacquer dry thoroughly, removing the rollers and then back-combing the hell out of it. When you finally got it standing up and out as high as it could go it got one more swish of Aqua net hair spray before you started styling it. Styling consisted of barely touching the surface, just enough to get it all to lie down and cover that rat’s nest. Once you were happy and thought you were having a good hair day it was time to fumigate the bathroom with the Aqua net again, and spray your hair until you could push on one side and the whole head of hair would move. Those puppies weren’t going anywhere in the Minnesota wind, believe me!!

I kept my hair pretty tame compared to some of the other girls. I was usually successful enough so you couldn’t see any of the teasing below the layer of combed hair. I remember one girl in particular – she stood about six feet tall and two feet of that was dyed black hair – I swear she never even attempted to smooth the surface of her hair. When you followed her down the hall, all you could see was a tangled mess.

Everyone carried a can of Aqua net in their purse, and stopped in the bathroom between every class to give your hair another squirt. Believe me, you needed a gas mask when you entered the room. You’ve heard of mesothelioma – I think we all graduated with Aqua-net-ethoma. It cost a whole 79 cents a can back then. Fortunately it was cheap because we used a lot.

About the time I joined the working world wigs and hairpieces were the rage. Ole bought me a human hair wig for Christmas one year and I practically lived in it. For the life of me I don’t know why because I had a headache by the end of every day. I finally gave up on that and bought a synthetic hairpiece, which made my life really simple. Fix the sides and the back and plop the hairpiece on top and away you go. By this time I had graduated from 79-cent a can Aqua net to something a little better, probably White Rain or some such thing.

Here’s the hairpiece – hard to tell it’s not mine, huh?

When we lived in Iceland I would get my hair fixed in a beauty salon every Friday night after work. After all I had to look “beautiful” for my big date with Ole every Friday night. The gal was a single mother who operated her shop in the basement of her mother’s home. I could get a wash, set and style for 50 cents. I wore my hair longer then and she would send me home with some of the most elaborate hairstyles. It was fun.

My hair was very thick, so it was easy for me to have Big Hair.


Don’t cha’ just LOVE those sunglasses? I was SO COOL!!

Then came the Hippy Days – or the closest thing I ever came to them. I was living in Florida while Ole was out on a Med Cruise. It was always hot and humid and raining, so Big Hair with lots of hair spray was out of the question because it always felt like wet glue and you couldn’t get it to stand up anyway. I spent a lot of time at the beach then, and wanted something easy to take care of. So I grew it long and wore it straight, or as straight as my hair could get. I never resorted to ironing it though – I’d seen too many gals that had burned theirs.


Somewhere along the line came my version of the Afro. Remember when everyone would get so many perms that their hair was fried, but that was okay because it was a wash and dry style. You didn’t have to do anything with it except pic it out when it was dry. Carrying a comb wouldn’t have done you any good anyway. I don’t think a comb would have gone through it. I was a young, working mother at the time, so in that respect it was a good style for me. But certainly one of my more unflattering styles, although I was COOL, or at least thought I was.


Pssst – there’s Ole’s comb over again!!!

I never got into the mall hair with the Closer-to-God-Than-You bangs, the mullet or any of those kinds of styles. Once Lovely Daughter was born, I kept it short and mostly curly – sometimes shorter than others. I had it really short and spiky at one time, and I loved it, but Ole didn’t, so that didn’t last long. If he had his wish I’d wear it waste length – sorry Ole – you’ll never see that in this lifetime. There comes a time in every woman’s life when long hair is just not flattering anymore. It’s like the male comb over – cut it and deal with it!!


Despite all I’ve put my poor hair through over the years, I’m fortunate enough to still have thick hair that is somewhat curly. Over the years I’ve given up trying to fight what it wants to do and pretty much just let it go it’s own way - with a little help from a stylist who gives me GREAT haircuts.

So that’s my story on Big Hair – and I’m stickin’ to it . . .
Love Lena




58 comments:

harrietv said...

Would you believe, one of my college roommates used toilet paper cores for setting her hair? I didn't even use brushes in my rollers, since I slept much better without; I simply dampened my hair (it was called Hair So New spray) so that I could roll it up.

I'm somewhat older than you, so I was a "working professional" when hair styles got really big. We were expected to be a bit more conservative. With my thin, fine hair, I didn't have much choice, but I didn't need a wig until forty years later, when the chemo took my hair. It came back, of course. I'm healthy.

Susan said...

You are good looking and a good looking teen. I have so few pictures of mysef during those early years. I remember all that hair nonsense. I even slept with a portable electric hairdryer whizzing away. Do you remember those plastic rack-like combs that would pull your hair into a ponytail and then clip today on the top? Also, then there were the pink foam rollers. Lord help me!

Marge said...

How did we ever sleep with those brush rollers in our hair. EVERY night! And then the rat's nest we teased up every day. I, too, did the perm thing for years and then cut it short short and let the grey take over. Now it's ear length and as grey/white as can be and I love it. No upkeep other than a hair cut every 5 to 6 weeks. What we women won't do to make ourselves georgous! Ha!

Paula said...

I missed all the big hair style days. I was a little bit too young for the big hair of the early 60's, although I looked with wonderment at the big girls on the block who had it, watching through windows hoping that I too someday would get to fuss over my hair. I missed the 80's big hair because I was too busy looking after a little one. I did however indulge in the afro...I had a black girlfriend who couldn't do a thing with her hair tell me how much she liked my "natural"....Hmm..on her, perhaps natural...on me...completely done by my stylist, Angelo.

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