Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hair-raising matters...

I've never had good hair. Well, I guess when I was really little, it wasn't too bad...

But as I exited toddlerhood and headed into little kid-hood, my hair became, at best, a nuisance. It was curly enough to achieve the "bed head" look without much effort, but not curly enough to look cute. Also, I hated having my hair touched, especially with a comb or a brush. (My, poor, sainted mother, who had to deal with my screaming fits whenever she'd approach me with any hair styling implements...) This didn't help matters, and there were many days when I cheerfully went about looking like this:

On those very infrequent days when I would consent to stand still long enough (still producing many an OW! or STOP IT!), my mom managed to get my hair into some semblance of neatness. Usually these days coincided with some Big, Important Event, like the first day of Brownies for example...

My mom never really knew what to do with my hair. It was the complete opposite of my younger sister's hair, which was stick-straight and fine. Her hair looked cute no matter how it was styled - pigtails, pony tail, barrettes, all looked great on her and with a minimum of effort. Mom's ultimate solution was just to keep my hair on the shorter side, so that it couldn't get too crazy.

As time went on, things went downhill for me in the looks department. By seventh grade, I was sporting braces to go along with my ginormous glasses and was hideously unfashionable in any and all clothing choices. I mean, this was the late 70s and early 80s, so it isn't like "fashion" was really all that great anyhow, but I was definitely not cool. So, the only hair solution for my entire look, of course, was a perm. A very, very tight perm.


Yeah. I rocked this look, or a variation thereof, throughout most of junior high and high school. The only difference, really, being the size of my hair and the color. I availed myself of some camomile soap with which I periodically turned my hair a rather odd shade of orangey-red. (As if any more evidence of my bookworm nerdiness was needed, I got the camomile soap tip from some novel or another, and by "novel" I don't mean anything popular. While I don't recall which book I read to glean this kernel of arcane beauty wisdom, it was undoubtedly some Victorian author's work that gave me this brilliant inspiration. Sad, I know.) Apparently my hairstyle icons were Ronald McDonald and Little Orphan Annie...

By senior prom, my hair was huge, as befit a teenage girl in New Jersey in the late 80s.

College, while not in NJ, didn't help much in the "get away from the large, permed hair look" department.
If anything, having the freedom to go get my hair styled however I wanted was worse than the Jersey Perm. I think the worst it ever got was when I tried going blonde (with professional help, mind you - I didn't attempt bleaching it on my own):


That was the zenith - or was it the nadir? - of my hair follies. After that, I went back to something more closely resembling my natural color (though still dyed) and started growing my hair out. In a few years' time, it went from this:

to winding up looking something like this by the mid-90s:

As you can see, medium-long wasn't any better for me, as my hair resolutely clung to its Jersey roots and tried to be big no matter what. Eventually, it got long enough that I could do things with it. Alas, it turned out that having had shorter hair my whole life, I missed out on crucial hair-styling experience. My long hair style repetoire consisted of a ponytail, braids (referred to by my coworkers as my "Pippi Longstocking" look), a faux-French twist using a massive butterfly clip, a barrette at the back of the crown of my head, or just plain down. I would try to blow it out straight sometimes, but it wouldn't last thanks to its natural curl. Occasionally, I'd implore a friend of mine (who insisted that I was ridiculously tender-headed, *humph*) to French braid my hair for me, and when she did it always looked nice. She couldn't be persuaded on a daily basis, however, so usually I wound up in the barrette or scrunchie. I stuck with the long hair -

- until the kiddo was born and developed a passion for wrapping my hair around her itty-bitty wrists and yanking with all her baby might. By the time she was 8 months old, my tender-headed scalp had endured quite enough of that, and I marched into my hair stylist and asked her to cut it all off. This led to the next phase, that I think of as "the Mom 'do" era -





Throughout this latest phase, I've felt, at best, ambivalent about my hair. I like that I broke my decades-long dyeing habit and have gone au naturel, color-wise (and my bank account likes that as well). I liked the concept that having it short enough meant I wouldn't have to worry about it, but even at its shortest, it isn't ever truly "wash and go" - that was more the case when it was longer. It still has just enough curl to be problematic and require more fussing than I care to deal with, and even when fussed with, the end result is still Mom Hair. So, I decided about 6 months ago that I was going to grow it out again. Apparently I suffer from some sort of amnesia regarding exactly how painful it is to grow out one's hair. I've been stuck in that awkward "in between" phase since practically the day I decided to grow it out. As it has gotten longer, my hair has taken on a life of its own. It defies styling attempts - no mousse, gel, or spray can tame it. My current style is best described as "Wolverine Van Beethoven" as you can see here:
So, what to do? It's like my hair is trying to be six years old again, albeit with several more (coarse, wiry) gray strands than I had back in the day.
I know it's reaching a crisis state because lately, I've been considering (and I can't believe I'm going to type these words) getting it permed again. Not the crazy perm of my youth, but a light wave just to give it some style as it gets longer. I'm thinking if I could regress my hair from age 6 back to age 3, I'd be all set...

In the meantime, I'm just glad my kiddo has good hair. It is curly but not crazy, relatively easy to style and looks good more than not. Whew!!

53 comments:

Lylah M. Alphonse said...

I recognise that Miss Piggy poster in the background of your Senior Prom pic! I think it's still there, in what my kids now call the Mama-shrine.

If I ever have the courage to post them on line, I'll have to dig out my old pix and challenge you to a 'fro off...

My name is Andy. said...

Heather, that was fabulous! Thanks for sharing all the great pics.

Heather said...

LOL Lylah! I had a feeling you'd recognize that background! :D You know, I came across several photos of you/with you in them from back in the NJ 80s Big Hair days when I was digging through my old pictures for this post, so just say the word and I'll gladly post 'em.... mwah ha ha ha ha ha!

Andy - Glad you enjoyed the entry! At least my bad hair is good for something - amusement, hee hee! :)

Sarah said...

Go back to the blonde do with the red top! man, that was HAIR!
Yours enviously

Lady Di

Momof3 said...

That was too Much!

cocokrispybeans said...

Okay, so listen, I have the exact same hair as you.

I spent years being miserable over my hair, lusting after shiny, straight locks.

Know how I finally beat it? My flat iron. Not just any flat iron, but the flat iron that goes up to 400 degrees. Between the hiar dryer and the flat iron, my unruly head full o'cowlicks has finally thrown in the towel, muah ha ha!

Givinya De Elba said...

I am so excited for you! You're an awesome blogger and deserve every bit of fun you get on your SITS day! Congratulations!

When one leaves a comment, one only has 1 tiny photo to show off. Your readers never knew how many hairstyles lay behind your one cheery photo!

Mandy said...

I wore that same brownie uniform. Ahh, those were the days. Have a great SITS day! I enjoyed your posts! :)

April said...

love the time line of hair! don't fret, i've had long hair my whole life and still don't know what to do with it. ponytail holders are about as far as i go.

~Trish~ said...

I think everyone should do a post like this, your not alone!!!

Creative Junkie said...

ROTF! love your pictures!

I hate my hair ... can't do a thing with it. I want to have a mid-life crisis so that I can cut it punk-short and dye it all sorts of colors.

I'm just counting the days.

Dee said...

Ahhh, we should all walk back in time to our hairdo's of the past. I have weird hair too, coupled with a hairdresser phobia, as I just am never happy with how it turns out. I am considering opting back to the perms too, wash and wear for me.

Heather said...

Yet another Heather! Yay for your SITS day (I'm still basking in comment love down here in Ohio). I am cracking up over this post. I had huge hair in the 80's and 90's...the bigger, the better. Then short mom hair, like yours, then grown out hair, and now back to short. It's like we're living parallel lives...must be the name :)

Elizabeth said...

I personally like the current "wolverine" look. Don't go getting a perm!
Happy SITS day!

Jen said...

Don't do it, just don't. Perming is not the answer. I don't think that your hair looks bad at all. Kinda cute.

Melodie said...

LOL! I need to do a post like this.

lynn said...

Happy SITS day!

You know, I don't think I've met a woman yet that likes her own hair! I've had long hair most of my life and suck at styling it.

Lindsay said...

CONGRATS for being featured on SITS! I enjoyed reading you posts...funny stuff!
Have a great day!!!
Now, I need to see your hair with the body wave that you were speaking of in this post!!! :)

elizabeth said...

Happy SITS day! And what a great post!

Maren said...

How fun of you to share your hair-ography! I feel like my hair has changed so much over the years, I never know what to do with it!

Mrs. S said...

don't perm it...perms are bad. I found out in 4th grade. I haven't done one since...no no.

My mom's hair is a lot like yours but naturally curly and sometimes SHE does a perm (what?!?!). It never turns out unless she's going for that poodle look.

Karen said...

That was a fun hairstyle journey ;-)

I once had a perm that looked like a mini afro. Had to have emergency surgery a couple of days later and the effect of the anesthetic flattned the do. Thankfully !!!

Amy said...

Stopping by from SITS. Love all those pictures!!!

Aubrey said...

You crack me up! LOL
"Wolverine Van Beethoven"

Your hairstory is great! You're a brave woman. I don't think I could show all my 'dos for all to see!

CanCan said...

My junior high years are very painful to revisit. Mine involved large bows paired with enormous glasses.
I rock the mom hair now, too!

Amy said...

My hair was always horrible. I found a solution....let it grow long, straighten it every day, leave it as is. All I could do :D

Brooke said...

I think we all wish our hair were different. I know I do!! Mine is so fine and straight that it will not do anything! I have the same 2 or 3 styles and that is it. Pretty sad. :( Oh well.....

Simply Stork said...

I think we all went through the "hair" wo's when we were kids and even now! I have very thin hair so I had the complete opposite problems...so funny!

happy sits day to you :o)

~simply~

Rhea said...

The grass is always greener with women and hair.

Your hair has a lot of body and character, that's for sure!

Ronnica said...

So what's your hair like now? I grew mine out, but it's in desperate need of a haircut! I'll have to wait a couple of weeks, though. I might cut it all off...I haven't decided!

Stephanie said...

Oh what fun and what heartache our hair can cause! I've hated my naturally wavy hair for most of my life. Right now it's fairly short, and fairly low maintenance - as long as I blow dry it right out of the shower! If not, heaven help us!

Ali said...

Girl, I don't think there are very many people out there who love their hair. Albeit, some have more difficult hair than others. I actually like the do in your latest pictures though, do what makes you feel beautiful. ;)

PS - maybe you should try the glitter aka "pixie dust" (ok, j/k) ;)

Jacie said...

I think all women have issues with their hair. I know I do.
Happy SITS day!

Shannon said...

Those pics are priceless. Sometimes I look back on my Sun In-ed, Aquanetted hair and think, "Why? Just why?".

wendy said...

As a fellow Jersey Girl with curly hair that was never curly enough to be cute, I can totally relate! I wore it in braids every day till the third grade when my grandma decided to cut it short. Now, after two kids, it's much curlier and I finally can wear it down, curly, and cute.

Happy SITS day!

EmmaP said...

Hi-Larious! Or shall I say Hair-Larious!!! bwahahahaha! Thanks for sharing. BTW, you should post about the whole Jeopardy experience...how fascinating!

Melanie said...

Wow so many styles. Unfortunately I have extremely curly hair so I have never had many options.

Nessa said...

I can share your hair woes, as I have the crazy curlies as well. Mine is always in a scrunchie or clip. Loved your pics!

Tracy P. said...

That's hilarious today, because it's picture day at school, and Bethany left VERY MAD over her hair. I told her I was fine with her getting retakes after she undid the do in protest. (The "do" was that I braided a little bit of it off to the side to get it out of her eyes. Exactly how she happily wore it yesterday.) I am so mean!

My hair has gone through much the same evolution. My "mom hair" was of the long/throw it in a ponytail variety. I've been "fighting frumpy" since the kids have been in school. I just wish that weren't so expensive!

Melissa Lester said...

I guess we will always look back on our past hairstyles and wonder what we were thinking back then. I feel like we are only getting better with age, but I guess a few years down the road we'll be ready for something new again.

jennifer said...

Bravely going where this blogger fears to go... You know, I have always griped about not having good hair. But these days it is leaping from my head at an alarming rate. I even have the extended part right up front... nice pink scalp. I will take every grey hair, every fine limp icky strand. I REALLY want to what I have left!!!

April Kennedy said...

So...did you end up getting a perm?!

Felicia Eis said...

LOL I love your posts. You definitely deserve your SITS day! Happy SITS day!

Trish said...

I have concluded that there is no such thing as "good hair". No one likes their hair type. I have fine thick wavy hair; presumably, this is a wonderful hair type to be stuck with. And I absolutely hate it - it won't do anything right!!

I wish you luck in finding the perfect hairdo.

Z's Mom said...

Wow! And I thought I changed my hairstyle a lot....you've got me beat! ;)

Judy @ In His Grip said...

I know if I looked all the way back just at my hair I too would have some crazy doos. I loved you in that Brownie uniform, I had ne just like it!

dddiva said...

I'm willing to bet your sister with the stick straight hair wished for an ounce of body, especially back in the day when big hair mattered. I know I did and not even hot rollers and massive amounts of mousse and spray (what was available) didn't help me for more than a few minutes- the minite I went anywhere POOF it deflated.
Rock what you were blessed with.
Happy SITS day, glad to *meet* you.

Michelle said...

First congrats on your SITS highlight! I have really enjoyed your three posts!

I have one word for you.......professional flat iron!! I love mine and wish I had one when I was a teenager. It would have made life so much easier. :)

mrsmouthy said...

Don't blame your hair...blame the 80s and 90s in do's. BTW, you were a FABULOUS 80s chick!

Michelle said...

Actually, your nadir as the blonde reminds me of a Princess Di hairstyle. It wasn't that bad. I will say that I so feel your pain. My hair generally looks like it's never heard of a brush within 5 minutes of being brushed. So now I try to scrunch it and go with the touseled curly look. Usually. Of course, I frequently go to the salon and say "I hate my hair; do something" which never turns out well.... Good luck growing it out :)

Liz Davis said...

Ah there was a time in my life that I thought my father wished that I was a boy. I was the fifth daughter and when I was eight I had my long locks cut off to a very short do... Then while trying to grow it out again, I actually managed to have both a short and long hair style. Don't ask how but my older sisters still like to tease me about my "SHLONG" hair do. It was a little bit short and a little bit long... I am so glad that I have a little brother now to handle all that boy stuff! Happy SITS day!

mrsbear said...

The photos are great. I loved the flashbacks. You're hair actually looks nice, it's a good length, sporty and flatters your face so...there.

WheresMyAngels said...

Great post, I loved looking at your different ummm styles!! lol

You were rocking the 80's weren't you!