Hair Today and Gone Tomorrow: Notes from the World of Hair
finishing its summer tour: HAIRevolution-"A multi-media,
sensory experience that explores the impact of music, movies
and pop culture" on hair. Here you
could revisit hairstyles of the past-like the Afro, bouffant,
mullet, and wedge-and get predictions by famous stylists of
what they will inflict on us in the future.
Apparently the coming looks are going to require us to don
a puffy pink clown's wig, swirl our heads around in a cotton
candy machine, or stick our fingers
in a socket.
could also sing along with the cast of Hair on Karaoke, "try
on" hairstyles virtually, and-here is something I've
always yearned for-visit the "fan" room
have your hair blown around, like a supermodel on a fashion
course, you do not have to visit HAIRevolution to see hairstyles
of the past. You have only to go to a mall or, even better,
a bowling alley. I mean a real bowling
alley, one that is devoid of children, dimly lit, hazy with
cigarette smoke, and redolent of stale beer. The kind of place
where all the male bowlers bear a
vague resemblance to Elvis, and the waitresses sport beehives
so tall that, for all you know, they could be hiding their
own bowling balls in them for use after hours,
beehives whose main structural ingredient is hairspray, so
you are wary of lighting a match within three meters.
I have to admit that decades of trendy hairstyles have washed over me with little impact. But that's true of most of us, anyway. We go through magazines, find something promising, and head to the salon, like the dowdy middle-aged woman in Educating Rita with her picture of Princess Di: "I want to look like that."
lacking time, an inexhaustible supply of mousse, and a personal
hairstylist on 24-hour call, we have to settle for something
now, straight hair is in. In fact, one fashion expert calls
it "the uniform of 21st century beauty."
Tousled hair, too. You know, like you rolled out of bed
schlepped to work with one eye open and without glancing in
the mirror. At last, my time has come.
hair is satisfactory, or would be, if it hadn't been for my
grandmother, who was otherwise a very likable person but started
going white at 25. But it doesn't
do anything. I have tried reams of hair care products
such as volumizing tonic or foam that would cause a normal
person's hair to harden into a rigid mass
that you could almost take on and off, like the hair on one
of those little Lego figures. Nope. Flat.
also have no talent for styling it. My hairstylist, Kim, classes
me charitably as "among the hair-impaired." Kim's
so talented, she probably could make that woman
from Educating Rita look like Princess Di. If she had
lived in the 1600s, she would have been made to wear a scarlet
"H" and burned at the stake by a
lot of guilt-ridden Puritans with great hair.
I was young, whatever time I spent on my hair was usually
in an effort to make it act or look like someone else's. Like
my sister's, thick and softly curling
and easy to style, or so it seemed to me. Or my friend Donna's,
streaked with blonde from spending so much time at the beach,
back in those carefree days
when we had an ozone layer.
course, we didn't have all the hair care products then that
we have today. Collectively, we probably purchase enough shampoos,
conditioners, gels, sprays, glosses,
mists, spritzes, and shines to rival the gross domestic product
of some countries. After a few years of this, you can sympathize
with Danny DeVito in Tin Men when he is throwing all
his wife's possessions out the windows and has a sudden inspiration
for what will go next: "Toiletries!"
had something like a shag for a while in high school, but
for the most part, I wore my hair long, which you can do when
you're young without people thinking it's
because you don't have enough imagination to do anything else.
This continued in college, when I was too busy to be bothered
with unimportant things like haircuts
and eating. Not that the dorm food made skipping meals such
a sacrifice. There's a weight-loss program for you: the Dorm-Food
the things I do to my hair are not to make it look like it
never was but to make it look like it used to be, which I
think was a sort of mousy brown. Every
once in a while I pull the lock of baby hair my mother saved
out of my jewelry box, just to check. Kim always sends me
off with something a little enthusiastic-perhaps
to encourage me, like those credit-card ads, to "master
the possibilities"-so it takes me a while to figure out
how to style it so it looks passable.
Terrific, the way she had it, is clearly beyond me. Right
now I could pass for one of the Thurmian women in Galaxy
Quest. Check back later.
MONTH IN "THE SKINNY:"
The Survivor makeup bag: What one makeup item would you wrestle a rat for?