Friday, July 11, 2014

Sepia Saturday: What Price Beauty?

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is very familiar to many women:  the beauty parlor.  Several years ago when my hairdresser announced she was giving up hair to pursue a college degree in psychology, I had only 2 things to say:  first, hairdressers ARE psychologists already, and second, it’s easier to find a new ob-gyn than a good hairdresser.  Am I right?

The vanity that drives me to keep a regular hair appointment every 6-7 weeks is surely inherited from my mother.  When I was a child, many women made weekly appointments for a shampoo and set.  My grandmother did, as did my mother for a time. 

But Momma was a do-it-yourselfer when it came to children’s hair.

She cut my bangs. ALL of them!   

Wendy May 1955
May 1955 on my grandmother's sofa

1950s-60s permanent rods
Rods 1950s
And perms!  My hair was so straight that Momma made me sleep in those torture rods to get the Tonette Home Permanent to curl.  (I’ll have to ask my hairdresser to explain the psychology behind saving the very thing that caused me such pain.)

From Google Images
I was never this cute though.
















When bleached blond hair was in vogue in the 1960s, I wasn’t allowed to follow that trend.  It was a moral issue.  But in the 70s, Momma was an early adopter of “frosting,” now better known as “highlighting” and “lowlighting.”  When she became fully blond, she decided it would be good for me to color my hair too so that people would think her color was natural.  (Momma wasn't really delusional -- she was funny.)

Another do-it-yourself project. 

Momma and Wendy 1971
DIY Hair 1971


The home kit included a little plastic cap with blue dots marking where to pull the hair through using a crochet hook.  The intended look required punching a hole in every other dot and hooking a few strands of hair for a light, natural highlight.  I’m pretty sure Momma went through EVERY dot with more than just a few strands. 

I still remember the look of horror on Momma’s face when she realized she didn’t have the right bottle of something. Toner, maybe?  There were no 24-hour pharmacies and Wal-Marts then, so I had to sleep in that plastic cap and hope like heck my hair didn’t slide back through the holes. 

Thank-goodness the next day was NOT Sunday, so Momma was able to buy whatever it was she needed and then finish her experiment on my head.

Blond hair looked pretty good for awhile. 

Wendy and Barry Oct 1971
October 1971 Selfie


But the growing out – not so much. 

Wendy 1972 Harrisonburg, VA
Typing with my eyes closed April 1972


Why we didn’t go to the beauty parlor to fix that mess, I can only guess.  Probably chemical processes then were too expensive by my family’s standards.   However, later in life, money was no object when it came to my mother’s hair.  She instructed her hairdresser to make her hair “baby chick yellow.”  Momma often quoted Dolly Parton:  “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.”


Why don’t you just “curl up and dye” with my friends at Sepia Saturday.


35 comments:

  1. This post made me smile! I too had short bangs like that - I think our mothers were just trying to make the bangs "even"

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    1. That's right -- just kept cutting until they were even!

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  2. Can you believe that the male hairdresser pictured in my blog this week still uses a version of that dotted cap and crochet hook method for tinting? Fine for him, he has virtually no hair and doesn't have to endure it, but it's so painful, and was one of the reasons I changed hairdressers a year or so ago.

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    1. My mother's hairdresser used the cap long after other hairdressers had switched to foil. Maybe he thought the cap guaranteed a better separation of the hair than doing it with a comb. I certainly don't miss the cap!

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  3. HA! This is great! loved all the pictures. Ya'll were cool.

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  4. I'd forgotten about the bloody bathing cap things. I tried it once and quit when I realized how much hair I was pulling out. Your bangs are adorable.

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    1. I was adorable in THAT picture, but I have one where my bangs were really jacked up. I am too ashamed to show that one. If I'm going to have short bangs, I at least need to be cute.

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  5. My mom used to give me Toni home permanents. I think my curls lasted all of a month, maybe. When I was older, I gave myself home permanents. I finally quit doing it after one time when I was right in the middle of giving myself one & was at the point where I needed to rinse all the chemicals out of my hair only to discover our subdivision had run out of water! I pulled some from the back of the toilet, but it wasn't enough. Frantically, I called my husband whose office was just 10 mins. away & he came right home with a big water can (like a milk can) full of water and a ladle. Luckily I got my hair rinsed before it burned. After that, I went to a beauty parlor for a permanent!

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    1. Oh no -- that's the worst! Using the toilet water was really an act of desperation.

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    2. Great story - I used to use the Toni home perms too in my student days.

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  6. "October 1971 Selfie"? Thought those weren't invented 'til after Y2K.

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    1. We invented the concept, not the term. ;-)

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  7. Great photos - as stylish as the theme itself.

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    1. Thanks -- always good to be in style with SS.

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  8. My mother used to go to the beauty parlor once a week too. When I was in college, she insisted that I go and have my hair frosted even though I didn't want to. It didn't look bad, but it didn't really fit my personality, and the frosted part felt very dry like straw.

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    1. Yes, the "frosting" does strip your hair of its moisture. I always used a cream rinse.

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  9. Fun post! I enjoyed all of it: pictures and story!

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  10. I completely agree with your opening! Also on the growing out stage, all too much! What perfect, and hilarious photos of the bangs-do (I also had a few of those) and of course the growing out color phase! Cute post Wendy.

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    1. It's always fun to have someone else who can relate!

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  11. i mentioned the cut at home bangs in my post. I also remember women going to the beauty parlour every week. You brought back some fun memories!

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    1. Yes, when I read your post, I noticed the bangs!

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  12. That's so funny that you had a photo of your mom giving you the frosted treatment. I remember having this done at the beauty parlor. Your mom was brave to try the home version. Or maybe it you that was brave!
    Nancy
    Ladies of the Grove

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    1. I think I was the brave one! Momma thought it would be very easy.

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  13. Loved this post. Laughed out loud several times. The things we do for beauty. And yes - hairdressers are psychologists :)

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    1. Yes, we definitely suffer for beauty.

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  14. What a fun post, Wendy. I'm amazed at all the hair photos you have.

    My sister once convinced me that she could do a great job cutting my hair. I was 6 or 7, she was 12 or 13, and she was babysitting me. No photographs exist and she denies having done the deed but in photos for the next few years my hair was short. I'm sure my bangs looked like yours, but the worst thing was being taken to my grandfather, the barber, the next day to have the cut "repaired." My grandfather cut everyone's hair the same: male and short!

    I especially like the photo of you and that handsome fellow.

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    1. My sister's little friend cut her bangs the day of kindergarten graduation. She was a sight! Momma was so upset.

      That handsome fellow no longer has those sideburns, just so you know.

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  15. Loved the DIY hair photo - so apt for this weeks' prompt

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  16. I love the "selfie".

    Yep, my mother cut our hair as well until we got to high school and kicked up a fuss!

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    1. That Selfie turned out well, especially considering we couldn't really tell whether we were even in the frame since the cell phone hadn't been invented yet.

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  17. Great fun stories about your hair. Me too, Toni perms at home. And more DIY dye jobs than I care to remember! But the few times I went to a beauty parlor, I was amazed how the stylist wanted to know all about me, and everyone in the next chairs would also just talk between everyone else about their lives. It was way too intrusive on my introverted self!

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    1. I could never be a hairdresser -- I'm not good at making small talk. My current hairdresser is a chatterbox, so she talks enough for both of us!

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