Cookin', Critters and Chillun

I love big hair – no ‘teasing’

I love big hair. No “teasing.” I can’t help it. I was a child of the ’50s and ’60s, when big hair was the thing, teasing was something girls and women did to their hair by back-combing it with a teasing comb, and Aqua Net was king.

I come by the fascination with hair honestly. My mother was a hair dresser. Today she would be called a stylist, I suppose. But when I was little, women went to beauty shops, not salons. Some of my earliest baby pictures show me with a “rooster comb” of hair brushed up into a peak to look like I was a baby with hair.

My mother confessed she put a permanent wave, only two or three curlers, in my hair by the time I was a 1-year-old.

Some of my earliest memories were complaining about the smell of permanent wave solution when my mother was giving one of her sisters a home permanent in the kitchen. I also hated sitting still with the cold, stinky chemicals dripping down my face and neck.

“It smells like money,” my mother would respond, thinking back to the days when she was in beauty school and then had her own shop in Tifton, Ga.

I don’t come from big-haired women, though. My mother had thin, fine hair. I have enough hair to cover my head but it’s straight and I have to use mousse (OK, “product”) and a hot air brush to make it look like I have curvy hair.

I am sooooooooo glad that somebody invented curling brushes and mousse and other magic tricks so we girls and women no longer have to sleep on really uncomfortable rollers overnight to have curls the next day.

Although my mother kept a permanent in her hair all the time, when she died at age 93 she had a cast on her right leg and hadn’t been able to sit up long enough to get a permanent wave in months.

Poor little thing, her hair was stick straight. I made the funeral home in Georgia promise to “fix” Mother’s hair so she would look nice in her casket. She did.

I knew if there really is such a thing as people coming back to haunt you, my mother would do just that if her hair didn’t look right for the last view people had of her.

I’m not obsessed with my own hair, but I admit if I’m having a bad hair day, I just don’t feel everything is right with the world.

And I realize that someday, I will probably lose my hair to age or illness and be bald. Wigs are out. I can’t stand the feeling of something perching on my head like a furry animal wrapping around my ears. So I’ll just have to convince myself that bald is beautiful.

But I’d rather have big hair.


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  • Guess who gave me my first perm.? Well, your mom tried to give me curly hair like my mom’s, but they wouldn’t take as I have been blessed with the hair from the Gross side of the the family. We surely are related!

  • Without any intention of doing so when I wrote about “big hair,” I evidently offended wig wearers, at least, a 37-year-old woman who said she wears a wig because of health problems. Her Sunday night message on voice mail in response to that one sentence about my not liking the feel of wearing a wig was: “You’re very uneducated not to think of other people out in the world…until you’ve been there and walked in someone else’s shoes who has to wear wigs every day, I think you owe Salem an apology,” the unnamed reader said, and she added, “When I read this that really hurt my feelings to be so down looked at.” She didn’t leave her name or phone number, so I’m apologizing to her here, and to anyone else who needs it. Again, my column is just that: a column, my personal opinion. I invite you to share yours.

  • I must say your article made me laugh outloud. I too love big hair. So much infact that I have invented products to help create the big hair look.
    I have very difficult hair to style. My daughter and I laugh all the time about someone at a funeral home trying to do my hair. I can’t even imagine what it would look like. Like your mother I too would come back to haunt her! (Ha-ha)

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