The Simple Life
By Michele Meier Vosberg
Affair of the Hair
It is a New Year and and thus a logical time for new beginnings. The magazine and newspaper ads would have us all organizing our closets and arranging our junk into matching Rubbermaid boxes. Everything you need to organize your life is on sale right now: file folders and cabinets, desk and closet organizers, and plastic containers of every conceivable color and size. They are practically calling your name. Get a fresh start! Start the New Year off right by organizing your closet and your life! Maybe it is true, our lives would be happier and more fulfilling if our closets were perfectly organized. I think for most women, however, the secret to a happier life lies not with our closets but with our hair.
I think it is probably safe to say that there is not a woman alive who is happy with her hair. We go to great lengths to change the appearance of our hair. Our hair is cut, styled, shampooed, highlighted, dyed, permed, thinned, thickened, conditioned, curled and braided. We wash, spray, mouse, gel and pomade our hair. We own an arsenal of hair care tools designed to make our hair do something it doesn’t want to do naturally. For those with straight hair, there are curlers (sponge, roller, and electric), curling irons and crimpers. For those with curly hair there are straightening rods. There are seemingly millions of products on the market to help us create the perfect hair, as if perfect hair, and thus self-confidence, could come in a bottle.
I was fairly young when I first remember wanting to have different hair. I had blond hair, which my mother kept cut short with little bangs. I longed for long, straight, black hair. I thought Morticia Adams of the Adams family had the perfect hair. It was practically to her knees, straight as a board, the color of coal, and best of all it swished when she walked. I would have settled for Cher’s hair, too; I loved the way she always pushed it over her shoulders. Unfortunately, I looked more like Little Lord Fauntleroy than Cher. Even Cher is not happy with her hair, I recently saw her on TV and she was blond. Go figure.
The hair heyday was in the seventies. The seventies brought us the shag. Nobody really looked very good in a shag, but everyone had one. Poor Florence Henderson will never live it down. We all had a “Dorothy Hamel” cut too, and at least it was an improvement over the shag. The be all and end all of all hairstyles was the Farrah. Was there a woman alive in the late seventies who didn’t have “wings”? This was the epitome of all hairstyles and the ancestor of the big hair of the eighties. The Farrah was truly a crowning glory, the kind of hair you could toss and shake. Farrah hair was casual and sexy. Millions of us believed that if our hair looked like Farrah, we might look like her too. There are women who hung on to this hairstyle for years, and some who are still wearing it today. Farrah hair was hard to give up.
Big hair was with us right through the eighties. Big hair went perfectly with big shoulder pads, which everyone knows make your hips look smaller. The hairspray industry went through its boom years then. I remember chaperoning a middle school dance once and a cloud of smoke was coming from the girl’s bathroom. Thinking that someone was smoking, I rushed right in. It wasn’t smoke emanating from the bathroom, it was hairspray! I’m not sure which is the greater danger, smoking or toxic levels of hairspray.
In recent years, hairstyles have gotten more casual. The messy look is definitely in. The idea is to look unkempt, as if you just got out of bed and didn’t comb your hair. It works for Meg Ryan and the Dixie Chicks, but I have my doubts about the practicality of this look for the average person. Can you go to work looking like you haven’t combed your hair? Hair color is big now, but it is fairly tricky to get it right. Stories of hair turned orange abound. I don’t think orange hair works unless you are a cat.
Still, a new year and new hair seem to go together. I made an appointment to get mine done. I know I’m not going to live up to Madison Avenue’s images, but I have hope. Getting a haircut is easier than losing twenty pounds and a lot more fun than cleaning closets. The hair salon was busy with plenty of women (and a few men) in search of perpetual good hair days. Why else would we wrap our heads in tin foil and sit under a dryer that looks like a space helmet?
I am fairly certain that what I come out with will be better than what I went in with. New hair is the quickest route to looking better and thus, feeling better. A few new styling products and I’ll be a new woman.
And if that doesn’t work, I guess I’m holding out for the return of big shoulder pads.