My Life in Hairstyles: A Tragicomedy in Many Parts

Little known fact: I am vain. I wasn't always this way but, at some point after coming out, I figured out what to do with my dull, lifeless hair and it changed the way I saw myself. I found my confidence and power in cutting off all my hair. I was going to make a Samson and Delilah reference here because I knew that story had something to do with hair but I am not good with Bible things because I was all about the macaroni art in Bible school and not at all about the Bible learning part. I also drank the Kool-aid but literally, not metaphorically. So, I had to look the story up and it is the opposite of my situation so there goes my lesbian Samson comparison. The point is that I have come to love my hair. If you've ever talked to me for any length of time, chances are I have talked about my hair. So today, I am sharing my life in hairstyles, the journey from awful to awesome.

Our story begins in 1970...


I was a bald baby so it is not surprising that at the age of two, this is all the hair I had. Please note the jaunty flip of my hair which suggests that I was separated at birth from Hermey the Elf and Nancy of Midlife Mixtape.


Once my hair began to grow, I left behind my life as a mechanic and joined the pageant circuit.


I was four when this picture was taken and, sadly, I did not take home the title of Little Miss Sun-N-Surf. My sister blamed it on the black shoes but I think my pale skin and unremarkable hair did me no favors. My hair remained long and straight until I turned five and my sister left home. My sister is 14 years older than me and she always took care of my hair--shampooing and conditioning and brushing it like I was her living My Little Pony. About a week after she left home, my mother took me to her hairdresser and this happened:


I cannot explain the crooked bangs or the stray hairs above my left eye. My mother was appropriately horrified by this cut and allowed my hair to return to pageant length and it remained that way until high school when I entered the Era of Perms.

In 8th grade, my stepmother talked me into a cut and perm as seen in this rare picture from that period.


I know...that's not really a picture of me but my hair looked just like that only it was brown. Of all the perms I had, I regret that one the most which is probably why there are no clear pictures of me during that time. I spent a couple of years growing out that perm before getting the one that would define my life from 1985 through 1989.


When my daughter saw that picture, she said, "Oh my god, mama! You had a mullet!" I then spent approximately 15 minutes explaining that it was a bi-level. She insisted that a bi-level by any other name is still a mullet and now tells anyone who will listen that I once had a mullet before correcting herself and saying bi-level with accompanying air quotes. I am cutting her out of the will.

In the summer of 1989, after my sophomore year of college, I went to stay with my mother who lived in southern Missouri. Nothing good happens to hair in southern Missouri. The week before I returned to school, she suggested I go with her to her hair appointment, promising me lunch. It was a trap! And that's how I ended up getting a spiral perm at a place called The Hairport.


I had no idea how to take care of that perm but I can tell you now that you shouldn't brush it like you are brushing down a horse.

The spiral perm was a turning point, however. Some of my friends from the rugby team took me to a salon to get my hair cut. Maybe they pitied me and my wrecked spiral perm. Maybe they were trying to make me gay. Either way, I got my hair cut and, for the first time in my life, I loved my hair.


Shortly after that picture was taken, I came out and then, as is required by the National Lesbian Charter, I got a flat top.


During that time, I got my hair cut at the Iowa Barber in downtown Grinnell. I'd walk into town and sit in the barbershop and wait my turn with all the old farmers. Fortunately, I realized quickly that I do not have a forehead that should be visible and settled into the hairstyle I would have for most of my 20's.


I loved that style but, as I moved into my 30's, I wanted something edgier, probably because I became a mom. In fact, I remember telling my stylist, "Do whatever you want but just don't make me look like a suburban mom."


That style worked for me for a long time and was probably the hairstyle I kept the longest. About two years ago, I was ready for another change and started growing out my hair again. Some days I love it and some days it gets in my eyes and makes me want to go back to the Iowa Barber but this is me now.


The funniest thing about this picture is that my hair looks almost exactly the same as it did in the first picture. As the old saying goes, "You have to get a lot of perms before you find your style." Yes, I appropriated that quote about kissing frogs but this is hair wisdom, people. Write it down.


This post is part of a blog hop started by Nancy of Midlife Mixtape. Check out the following blogs for more stories and pictures and hairstyles!

Ann's Rants

Good Day Regular People


Midlife Mixtape

The Flying Chalupa