horrible hairdos of my 1970’s childhood

I thought I would have a little fun at my own expense on the subject of my various childhood hair arrangements. I’m afraid I’ll have to drag my sister into this one too.  This fun will also be had at the expense of my parents which is just fine with me.  I hold them partially responsible for these “hairdon’ts”.  Every time I have questioned them as to why I was dressed or coiffed the way I was in the 70’s, it is met with a response such as “Oh honey, that’s just what people did back then.”.  REALLY?

Chrissy - 1975, 5th grade

Julia - 1975. 2nd grade

Why DID people do this to their children in the 70’s?  This is not a rhetorical question.  I’m looking for answers.

Chris - 1977, 7th grade

Another question. Why did my father cut our hair at home?  He had no discernible barbering skills and we did not seem to own any professional haircutting tools (such as sharp scissors).  We lived in a college town, so certainly there had to have been some decent beauty shops?!?  We were not poor, though for some reason we only seemed to own one single comb, and several of those horrible lime green and hot pink Goody plastic brushes with the pointy ends.  The pointy ends of those brushes had many other applications, for example my sister once used one to express her anger over some injustice by ramming it through the vinyl headrest of our family Gran Torino station wagon.

My adorable daddy aka:The Hair Butcher

Speaking of those brushes with the pointy handles, my best friend’s mother would subject us to pigtails any chance she could.  Pigtails were very practical for long summer days spent playing in the yard.  She would sit me down and furiously brush my hair into submission.  Then she would wield the sharp end of one of those flourescent brushes like a shiv.  She would press it against my now-stinging scalp to create a part from the middle of my forehead to the nape of my neck.  At this point she would again vigorously brush and tug and wind the hair into two pigtails.  As a finale to this excruciating ordeal, she would secure the pigtails with the elastics with brightly colored plastic balls on the ends requiring that she temporarily pull the pigtail even tighter.  She pulled the pigtails so tight that my eyes would water, and the skin on my face would pull back into a shiny, distorted mask.  God forbid we should complain.  She was from Texas after all, no wussiness allowed!  As soon as she had dismissed me with a loud “RUN ALONG!”,  I would disappear and release my facial skin.

My niece Mia demonstrating the power of tight pigtails.

My sister has graciously allowed me to include this delightful picture of her mock-Suzanne Sommers hairdo from the 5th grade.  I guess this ‘do was something she cooked up on her own without my mother’s permission. Maybe she’s still proud of that.  I think these side ponytails were popular for a while because I wore them too.

Julia - 1978, 5th grade

Meanwhile, my mother was a goddess in the 70’s.  She wore her thick, jet-black, shiny hair long for years, and later cut it into a fashionable bob.

My mother and father - 1973

Late 70's

MY hair as a child however, was not goddess-like.  It wouldn’t do anything I wanted it to.  It was terrible when I tried to make it feather, or curl back or lay straight or be curly.  Here is an example.

Chris - 1979, 9th grade

My mother seems to think it appropriate for women to wear their hair short at a certain point, maybe somewhere around menopause.  When she has an opinion like this, it triggers a childish yet powerful urge in me do the opposite.  I might end up being one of those eighty year-old women with a giant bun just to test her theory.  I do admit though, that this rebellion against my mother has not worked out very well for me in the past, so maybe by the time I am 80 I will have given up on it.

The 80’s and 90’s were not always kind to my hair either, but that is a whole different post, and I won’t be able to blame it on my parents.

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15 thoughts on “horrible hairdos of my 1970’s childhood

  1. Lordy, I remember all those hairstyles and more. I had short hair and was cheered “atta boy!” at the Heart of the Valley Road Run when I was 8. I managed to gasp out, “I’m a GIRL!” Realigning gender confusion seemed more important than breathing at the time. And it’s put me off running forever. (That picture is exactly as I remember your parents btw – your mom’s hair was(is) gorgeous.)

    • Funny Kate! As I was trawling through the old photo albums looking at pictures for this blog post, I happened upon quite a few old photos of you. Including your school picture from the time you mention…so cute!

  2. And don’t even get me started on the hair products – or lack thereof. I can’t recall using hair conditioner until the 80s. Did it not exist, or were my parents just cheap? (hum, maybe better not to answer that) Daughter Liv was incredulous. “But how did you comb your hair when it was wet?”

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