Looking Back

Looking Back: Hair Styles

Did you ever look at an old picture of yourself and say, ”What was I thinking?” I have a feeling that females say that much more often than males.

In fact, many males (my husband included) have worn their hair the same way throughout their lives. Perhaps that is why people they meet after long periods of time tell men they haven’t changed. However, in most cases time has probably worked its magic and gray hair has replaced the color of their youth. I have a feeling that this change is better received by men than having no hair at all!

While looking through some old pictures recently, I found grade school pictures where I was wearing bangs that were more than two-thirds of the way up my forehead. They were evidence of the proverbial bowl-over-your-head type of haircut.

In our younger days most of us had long hair, often pulled back with a ribbon or barrette. The longer the hair, the more tangled it became and combing usually generated a few tears.

Back in the late 1950s a friend and I decided we wanted a new hair style before starting high school. At that time the “DA” haircut was popular. (In case you don’t know, the letters stand for “duck’s ass!”) That meant the hair on each side of the back of your head was combed back until it met in the middle and formed the equivalent of a duck’s derriere. The sides were very short. If you were fortunate enough to have wavy hair, this was a great choice. My friend Elaine and I went to the hairdresser together to get this cut. She had a natural wave to her hair and ears that lay close to her head. I, on the other hand, had hair as straight as a string and ears that were not exactly flat. I think you can tell the outcome of this hair appointment. Elaine looked great. I looked like I should go into hiding!

Most teenage girls think about changing hair color. Most parents said, “Absolutely not!”

My friend Jayne and I took matters into our own hands. We took a bottle of peroxide and poured it into our hair. We were both brunettes when we started and had orange carrot-tops when we finished. The next morning Jayne’s mother made an appointment with a beautician to return Jayne’s hair to its own color. School was delayed that morning for Jayne until she looked like herself. I was told to go to school just the way I looked since I was the creator of the problem. I don’t recall that people paid much attention to my strange looks but I never again took it upon myself to change my own hair color. I leave that to the pros!

Back in the day formal dances usually meant upswept hairstyles. There was a certain amount of glamour to that era. Pageboys were often exchanged for French twists for dressy occasions. Let’s not forget the teased hair that increased the volume of your hair by several dimensions. The bouffant look needed lots of hair spray, which created a Brillo soap pad feel to the touch.

These hairstyles didn’t happen without a little bit of discomfort. Most of us slept on curlers that had bristles. They made it hard to get your head comfortable on the pillow. Sponge rubber curlers worked for some hairstyles and were certainly more comfortable. And who can forget the hairnets or bonnets we wore to keep the curlers in place? They were a fashion statement for sure!

Home permanents were quite popular for those of us who wanted some curls. My friends and I used to give them to one another and I have to say, they came out quite well.

Many of us opted for easier maintenance after awhile and a short pixie style did the trick.

The males may not have had as many choices as the females but they had short and long options too. Hair couldn’t get much shorter than the crew-cut.

Also popular was a slicked back hairstyle with a side-parted sweep. This slick look did not make women want to run their fingers through it. There was also the Ivy League cut which had the smartness of a crew-cut but the slick look of a side part. The 60s also had sort of a rebellion hair style and many guys wore their hair long. It was the time of the hippie era.

When you look at old pictures, you probably don’t even need to turn them over to check the date. The hair style tells it all! Looking back at the various haircuts will probably produce a few chuckles. But who knows, the best may be yet to come. For senior women there is always the grayish blue hair color complete with tight curls. . . . I hope I will be smart enough to avoid that look!

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