Posts Tagged ‘curly hair’

Farrah Fawcett as Jill Munroe circa 1978 (public domain)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.

Class of 1979, high school graduation portrait, me donning a bad Farrah Fawcett hairstyle, 1979, image © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reservedNonetheless, 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.

Class of 79, classmate who had the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle down pat, streaks and all (I'm sure I hated her in high school)

                      Class of 1979, a classmate who tried the Farrah Fawcett look (with mixed results)

                                                  Class of 1979, a classmate who went with her own hairstyle

Michael Jackson 1979 (public domain)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.

        Class of 79, a classmate with the Michael Jackson afro and polyester shirt AND vest

                            Class of 79, a classmate with the Michael Jackson afro and polyester shirt

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.

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I have brown curly hair. I am the only one in my family with curls. Not just waves, but corkscrew curls. People asked throughout my childhood: Who has curls in the family? The answer to strangers was: Her grandmother had wavy hair. To friends and one another, we joked: Her father was Zorro.

Zorro is what we called the postman who delivered mail on Neat Lane. Zorro stayed out in front of our mailbox and talked to Mom for hours. Literally. He would sit in his little postal truck and Mom would lean against the mailbox, and they would talk.

None of us knew his real name, and no one, not my dad or my older sisters, must have honestly believed that Zorro was a threat. I do wonder, though, what all the other housewives thought as they waited for their mail while Zorro frittered away the morning chatting with Mom.

Mom says my hair started out straight but that after the tracheotomy at 18 months, the time I nearly died of croup that became pneumonia, my hair got curly. She says I was in an oxygen tent for days and that as I lie sleeping and sweating, the ringlets formed.

Like a flower growing, in those nature shows where they speed up time, time lapse photography, that’s how I picture me inside the oxygen tent. Mom and Dad peering into the plastic then wham, straight wispy hair curls up all around, my forehead covered in drops of sweat. I even see their eyes growing bigger, as if witnessing something unnatural. And even though I’m sure this isn’t at all the way it happened, it is forever pressed into my consciousness, my own little film about a time in my life that I was too young to remember.

Nowadays my hair is long. If I were to straighten it, it might even reach my shoulder blades on my back. I usually straighten it when I have a meeting, like in China or with people I don’t know.

Something about straight hair, the notion that it’s not actually me underneath it, allows me to slip into a more businesslike, more powerful persona. I like having the option, and even though I’ve come to love my curly hair, I like that at any time I can blow it out and make it as straight as straight can be.

I was remembering this morning about a time, maybe in my 30s, probably after Em was born, when I lost a lot of hair. I was thinking about the thin-haired women, aunts and cousins, on Dad’s side of the family. I remember I went through a period where I had a recurring dream that I was one of those alien dog-men from Bewitched, the one who didn’t have much hair on top of his head but had instead long, hairy ears.

My dream was that I get up out of bed in the morning, wash my face in the sink, and as I’m rinsing the soap off my face I catch my reflection in the mirror. I am just like the dog-man on Bewitched. Bald on top, long floppy ears down the sides.

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – HAIR

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