I remember, many years ago, how proud I was when I mastered the ancient art of pin curling, which really wasn’t so ancient when I mastered it. For my younger readers, this was in the 1940s and 1950s when to get presentable hair one first got a perm.
There were two kinds of perms — home and beauty shop. As the permanent went its temporary way, one would bolster it by faithfully setting the hair in pin curls overnight as often as necessary.
To set a pin curl it was necessary to grab a hunk of hair, wet it, twist it in one direction around the index finger which was tip-first against the head, thus forming the curl. With the other hand one jammed a bobby pin or two or three through the curl to hold it in place.
The next morning, or whenever all the set curls were dry, the bobby pins were removed, the hair was combed or brushed, or both, and whoopee! A head of curly hair. Of course, our naturally curly-haired sisters just shook their heads and got the same results without perms or pins.
At times we professed to envy our prehistoric ancestors who apparently didn’t even acknowledge they had hair on their heads.
Through the 1960s and 1970s when I was busy raising our eight children, the annual home perm was replaced by an annual beauty shop job, which I looked forward to as some time away from it all while somebody pampered me.
In home hair care, the pin curls were replaced by curlers of various types. My personal favorites were the foam rubber ones because they didn’t create permanent dents in the head when I slept in them. Also males were not inclined to look at them and ask how many channels you got on that antenna.
At this time a popular “do” was the pony tail which was a Godsend. You simply swept fairly long hair back and high on the back of the head and fastened it with a barrette, rubber band or holder of your choice. For special events the ponytail could be shaped into an attractive mound of some type at the back of or on top of the head.
Then came the 1980s and 1990s. My hair-do became shorter, befitting my advancing age, and I rather lost track of the younger girls’ hairdos. I did notice my students had gone beyond hairspray and discovered mousse. This apparently meant they never had to comb their hair.
They got their hair into the shape of their preference and covered it with mousse, a gelatinous substance which hardened the whole hairdo into a hard helmet which seemed to be permanently attached to their heads. Just once I patted a student on the head. Her hair was so hard I was afraid I might crack it. I wonder if this is really why teachers stopped touching kids.
Now here we are at the millennium. I notice ladies of my advanced age are still “dressing“their hair. But as I look at the role models for the younger generation — television stars or personalities — I do believe the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I watched a “glam event” on the tube. The stars, wearing sparkling high-heeled shoes, stepped out of their limos. Their gorgeous gowns almost covered their bodies. The make up on their faces was flawless. And their hair looked like they had caved in totally to the “styles” of their prehistoric ancestors.
Either it hung in straight hunks or hanks, or it was grabbed in one hunk, twisted and somehow jammed atop their heads with errant stubs sticking out at various angles. Either the stars have forsaken their hair dressers to do their own thing, or the Hollywood hairdressers are collecting vast fees for doing absolutely nothing.
Is it possible that these ”hairstylists” to the stars have managed to convince said stars that less is better, a la the Hans Christian Anderson tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes?”
Editor’s Note: This column was first published in The Daily Advocate on Jan. 19, 2000.