Oodles of words have been spilled about the deaths this past Thursday of both Farrah Fawcett, at age 62, and Michael Jackson, age 50, and oodles more will be said. There’s little I can add, except perhaps this.
When I think back to my youth in the 1970s, I will fondly remember one gift among the many that these pop icons gave us, and that is their hair.
Ah, Farrah’s mane. Long, thick. My God, did she ever have thick hair! And all different shades of blonde on one head.
She was Jill, the sexy athletic Angel. Sabrina (Kate Jackson) was the smart Angel and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) the girl next door. But we all wanted to be Jill. Or at least, most the girls in my graduating class did.
We knew nothing of “blow-outs” then. Why today, with the right cut, I could replicate a Farrah Fawcett hairdo in no time, thanks to styling gels, leave-in conditioners, multi-sized barrel curling irons, diffusion blow dryers, and round bristle brushes. But back then we had few tools at our disposal.
Nonetheless, I tried my best to turn my frizz into Farrah’s layered mane. As seen in my high school graduation photo, I managed to feather my bangs, which I did by slowly pulling out (and in the process, singeing) the strands of hair clamped in my curling iron.
I settled with partial feathers, a sort of ready-for-take-off look that alone required hours to achieve. The rest of my curls I left be, except for the very ends, which I halfway straightened.
Some girls were excellent at emulating the ‘do, and I was excellent at hating them and their blonde streaks. But most girls, like me, failed miserably at transforming their natural waves into Farrah’s sexy look. And then there were the girls, in hindsight the courageous ones of our day, who didn’t even try to, through their hair, be anything other than who they were.
My hair was probably better suited for the male ‘do of the time, which in the late 1970s was donned by Michael Jackson, pre nose jobs, skin bleach, dimpled chin, and straight wig.
In 1979, his song Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough was in the Top Ten. We danced to his music and tried his moves. And the most fashionable guys — the foxes, as we called them — wore polyester shirts, vests, and slacks.
Not every boy could pull off a Michael Jackson ‘fro, but this had to be about the only time in the past 30 years where men yearned to possess curls worthy of clown wigs. For some, the ‘fro came naturally. For others, it was just a bad perm away.
You gave us many gifts, Michael and Farrah. How can a legacy in music and dance compare to the short-lived afro that even you, Michael, discarded once you hit mind-blowing fame and fortune? It is minor, I admit.
And Farrah, you were much, much more than the sum of the seemingly infinite hairs on your head. But in the late 1970s, those hairs were the goal of every female my age, and I don’t think we have ever worked in tandem to achieve a singular style since.
Thank you both. For being the ones who impressed us most when we were at our most impressionable.