Evolution of a Curly Head

Posted by Kathy Torrence on May 31, 2008 in Family Stuff, Yardsale Finds

While I was out yardsale-ing yesterday, I came across this little gem from the past:

P5300015 P5300014

That would a “Barbie Friend Ship” fold-out airplane from about 1972. I had one of these when I was a girl and when I saw this one for $2, I decided to pick it up for Emily. It cleaned up nicely and brought back some childhood memories…

Then yesterday afternoon, I got my hair cut. I was talking with my stylist and mentioned that someone had told me at work the other day that I had “model” hair and that I just couldn’t believe that someone would actually like my hair.

The stylist and others in the salon went on to tell me that same old standard line that straight-haired people always say to people with curly hair: “Lots of people pay lots of money to have hair that looks like yours.” This usually comes along with the line, “You’re so lucky to have naturally curly hair!”.


This got me thinking – straight-haired people have NO idea what it’s like to grow up with kinky, curly hair in a world where straight hair is considered the standard for beauty. Celebrities with curly hair are still forced to straighten their hair to fit in with Hollywood (Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, etc).

I’ve seen studies done that say that people with curly hair are not taken as seriously in the business world as those with straight hair. They’re seen as “fun and flighty” – not exactly executive material.

And I also saw recently on the Bravo show, “Millionaire Matchmaker” that the matchmaker told her curly haired women clients to straighten their hair because men don’t like curly hair. She said that men want hair “they can run their fingers through”…doesn’t sound so lucky now, does it?

And just to prove my point, I decided to take my new scanner and put together a little jaunt down memory lane inspired by my hair cut (which turned out great, by the way) and that 1972 Barbie toy. I’m going to show what it was like to grow up with naturally curly hair in the 1970s and 80s (when the only real hair product available was Dippity Doo). Keep reading if you dare, but let me warn you, some of these photos are very graphic (in a bad-hair kind of way)…

First, a sweet little baby photo…

Baby photo

Doesn’t look so bad, right? But the curly-hair monster was always lurking not far away…

Baby wild hair

Actually, as a young child, my hair was fairly under control (relatively speaking) – take a look at these kindergarten and first grade photos:


1st grade

Not too bad – my bangs were even blond and shiny!

By 2nd grade, my hair started to rebel just a tiny bit:

2nd grade

You can see the little wisps sticking out in the back…

Then came third grade. Again I warn you…some of these photos are pretty graphic…

3rd grade

What happened here (fashion aside – what’s with the yellow scarf and zip-up jumpsuit)?!? Lesson learned – NEVER brush out curly hair after it’s dry, or you’ll end up looking like you’re wearing a helmet. But please do take note of my cute little patriotic barrette for the 1976 bicentennial…

I think my mom tried to tone it down a little bit for 4th grade, but I feel that this style is slightly reminiscent of Princess Leah from Star Wars (maybe that’s the look she was going for):

4th grade

She tried to use curlers to tame the frizz, but the result was very odd…

Now for some strange reason, my mother decided to give me a perm when I turned 10. Maybe she was hoping to cancel out the natural curls with some manufactured ones? (By the way, my mother has perfectly straight hair.)

We moved to a new house in 5th grade, and so this was how I met all of the kids in my new school…looking like this:

5th grade

I’m still traumatized by this hair – just the smell of perm solution brings back bad memories. The good news is that somehow, I managed to make friends in spite of this horrible hair.

Oh…but it gets even worse, I’m afraid…take a look at 6th grade:

6th grade 2

Um…yeah. I don’t even know what to say. More curlers and some adolescent hormones resulted in this fine, fine photo. The year here would have been about 1980 or so.

The next year, I decided to try to at least let my hair grow a little longer – and I tried some sort of weird ponytail configuration. Here’s 7th grade:

8th grade

Again, let’s not even talk fashion here. Focus on the hair, please (and that’s not too hard to do).

I tried something new the next year – I let it grow out and always wore it pulled back in a ponytail:

7th grade

Notice my feeble attempt at ‘feathering’ my bangs – it’s as close as I could get to the Farrah Fawcett look!

When I started high school, I tried to go a new route – I cut my hair shorter and left it curly with LOTS and LOTS of gel:

6th grade

Yes, that’s right – you’re looking at a curly-haired mullet. I’m so proud! I even wore it to my boyfriend’s high school prom that way:

7th grade prom

Fast forward to high school graduation – I kept my hair short and curly all through high school – it was the best I could do with my lack of curly hair knowledge and the few hair products available in 1986:

High School

Wow. I warned you that the photos were graphic! And those are just my childhood photos – maybe if I have more time, I’ll share with you my adult hair-escapades.

Oh – and if any of you curly-heads (or non-curly heads) are brave enough to share YOUR bad childhood hair photos, please send them to me so I don’t feel so alone being traumatized by my past hair blunders…

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