Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I was born in 1957.  In those days brush haircuts were the fashion for men.  Really short.  There was some variation among the style, super short on the sides (whitewalls), flat on the top, buzzed the same length all over.  But short hair was in. 

There was a contingent of roguish men or beatniks whose hair was long in relation to the standards of the day.  They stood out.  

As a child of the 60’s, hair was super important.  It said who you were, where you stood on social issues, how lenient your parents were.  My brothers and sisters attended Catholic school, where long hair was not allowed.  There wasn’t much thought about freedom of expression with the clothes you wore or how you wore your hair.  It was all quite simple.  For the boys it was long dark dress pants, white shirt and tie.  Hair was supposed to be above the collar of your shirt.  For girls it was a plaid skirt (which had to touch the floor when you knelt – and we did lots of kneeling as we went to Mass every school day as well as Sundays), white blouse and, if you were in first or second grade (no Kindergarten back then in the Catholic school) a beanie held to the crown of the head with bobby pins.  It certainly was a great equalizer.  Rich or poor, or somewhere in the middle – we all looked the same. 

In the mid sixties, many of my friends would have preferred long hair.  The hair length of movie stars and singers was getting much longer.  Who wanted a crew cut when the Fab Four and The Monkeys had those fantastic moptops? 

So it was always a struggle when my mom lined us up and pulled that horrible electric razor to buzz our hair.  It wasn’t new or sharp any longer so, besides the insult and shame of not even going to a real barber, getting haircut from my mom was painful.   I always complained (no, I probably whined) about having my hair shorter than EVERYONE ELSE and looking like a MAMA’S BOY and so OLD FASHIONED.  So my mom, in her wisdom would compromise with a 5 guard instead of a 3 guard – against her better judgment of course. 

When I went to high school, still in Catholic school for two years, the rules governing hair length were a little more moderate.  I always went to the acceptable limits.   But when my family moved in the summer between my sophomore and junior years, all bets were off.  I attended a public school for the first time and there were essentially no dress codes!  At 16, my parents sort of threw up their hands and figured that the length of my hair was not as important any more and I think I went at least three years without a cut.   Looking back on images of myself during those years, I was pretty bizarre.  I’m sure that my parents just gritted their teeth and figured that this wasn’t a battle they wanted to fight any more. 

My head was like a bush.  My hair was so thick that it stuck out in every direction.  I didn’t care.  I was into letting my freak flag fly.  And it sure did.  When I pulled it back into a ponytail after a swim or shower, it didn’t really ever dry.  When I wore a bandana it stuck out crazily wherever it could escape the confines of cloth.  It was clownish really.

But I wore it that way for years.  Finally, I met Heidi Mills and she convinced me that it needed some trimming.  It was way out of control.  The result of her first haircut was a little uneven, but it had to be far better than the crazy clown wig I had been wearing for the previous few years.  And I was madly in love and anything that Heidi would do for me would be fine. 

And I’ve worn my hair roughly the same ever since.  I do go to COST CUTTERS now.  And the part is slightly to the side – instead of straight down the middle.  But for roughly 30 years, my hair has been the same.  A little shaggier - then a little shorter. 

We all go through the changes of fashion.  My parents probably went through some similar things with their parents.  Skirt lengths, necklines, makeup, hair grease, widths of ties.   At some point most parents are old fashioned to their kids and kids are outrageous to their parents.  Part of life I suppose.

Our oldest son, Devin, has great thick hair.  He was self-conscious about it as a kid.  It was wavy and didn’t stay down.  He wet it and wore hats to bed.  And for a while, would never be seen outdoors without a hat. 

Once when he was on an overnight religious retreat with his teenage friends, he called us and asked if he could get a Mohawk.  We said, “No!” without hesitation.   “But thanks for asking.”  There was something a little suspicious about that conversation.  I had the idea that he was asking after the fact.   Our suspicions were confirmed when he came back home with a complete buzz cut.  At least he got rid of the long hair down the middle. 

We put Colin through an awkward stage with his hair.  Heidi insisted on giving him a bowl cut.  He had it for years.  It looked “European”.  As soon as he knew his rights (4th grade or so) he said NO to the bowl thing and opted for very long hair that sort of stuck out all over.  People said a few times that he looked a lot like Justin Bieber.  That was the end of that.  Now he has a handsome, relatively short, neat look.

The thing about fashion is that it is…  so… ridiculous.  What’s in, goes out.  What’s out, comes back.  And who decides?  I guess the short answer is “designers” decide. Whoever they are.  Obviously the idea behind fashion trends is to part consumers with their money.  If my perfectly good jeans aren’t what’s cool, they go to GOODWILL or simply to the trash so I can go out and buy something new. 

Same with hairstyles.  Depending on which famous people wear their hair a certain style, many people will change how they look in a minute to match.  Take Justin Bieber for instance.  (Please.)  If he were to get a crew cut, chances are that it would make a momentary bump in the fashion trend du jour.    


Chris Hass said...

I'd love to see a photo of that head of hair. Although, I can almost imagine it.

My worst hair style was the mullet my sister gave me when I was in middle school. I fear my mother might have photos of this somewhere. I've also had spiked hair, feathered hair, buzzed hair, and even long hair. The long hair was my favorite. I cut it the afternoon before my first date with Tricia. This was a wasted sacrifice because she didn't care how long I wore my hair. I wasn't about to grow it back out though because I didn't want to have to endure that awkward flippy stage.

Fun post.

Nic said...

I am growing mine at the moment. I hope to have it long and wavy and hippy like it used to be. Currently it is neither one thing or another and a complete mess. I get to this stage every time and end up getting it cut again. But I am determined: I have a picture on my computer of a lady with long hippy hair - a stunning lady with stunning hair, and somebody who I will never, ever be, which makes the whole pictorial incentive pointless and makes me want to cut my hair again. :/

Emily Whitecotton said...

So I have a kid in my class now with a gelled mohawk. I know that mohawks are the thing now, but his family shared with me that he's had his for about 5 years now....and I've yet to see a kid with one gelled like pointy pointy punk rocker gelled. SO cool.

I've always wanted super short hair. It just seems like it would so much easier to deal with than long girl hair. Maybe one day I'll have the guts to really get it all chopped off...until then I'll just dream....