Pixied and Permed: My Life in Haircuts and Headbands

My life is largely a history of headbands and bangs, an ongoing effort to make thin, fine hair thicker and fuller, an evolution from baby bald to big girl curl.

It’s basically been a bad hair life, one I’ve tried to rewrite in pixies and perms, bobs and barrettes.

Hope you enjoy this scrapbook of styles—my history in haircuts and curls.

A Baby in Bangs:

My mom was big into bangs, or so it seemed to me. Maybe it was the era–what one did with babies’ hair in the early ’60s.  Either way, I wore my toddler locks chopped short across the forehead, a bridge of bang above big, blue eyes.  

Growing up with Brown Hair and Braids:

After first grade I insisted on growing my hair long.  It may have been the Brady Bunch effect—seeing Cindy with blonde ponytails and big bows.  It may have been primary school, an effort to braid my brown into bigger girl style, curly girl chic.   Regardless, I started second grade, a studious girl with lengthier locks.  

Professional Permed:

I finished my formal education in the mid-eighties—a time when huge hair was everywhere.  It was an era before products could mousse any hair into almost any style; and big-headed professor or not, with thin, fine hair, only a perm gave me personal puff.

Mad-Headed Medusa:

I lived much of the ’90s fighting bipolar disorder.  It was a decade spent revolving in and out of psychiatric hospitals with hair as varied as my mood.  Sometimes it was short, other times a little longer—even eventually I had mildly Medusa-like curls.

Lesbian Locks:

I emerged a saner, better version of myself after the millennium turned, embracing my sexuality and cutting my curls.  Whether or not I unconsciously morphed into the stereotype of cropped lesbian locks, I’ll never know.  However, I spent the first half of the last decade opening the closet door— gay pride with pixie cut.

A Blogger in Bobs:

When I returned to work mid-decade, I marked my passage back to the writing life by bobbing my hair and falling madly sanely in love.  With Sara, I’ve lived, luggage packed, passport in hand, first in Vietnam, later in Haiti.  I wonder what haircut I’ll have for our next destination.

How has your hair evolved?  Do you have a story to tell in bangs and barrettes?

A Prose Poem

Summer Circles Green

Summer circles green and my hair is growing another color, silver/white like tinsel or Christmas tree ornaments or snow on the slanted roof of the artist’s yellow house, who paints her daughter blonde, reclining as in a lawn chair, her oiled canvas stretching now in a museum down the road, where we, on Sunday mornings, relax like swans, drinking flavored coffee from blackened mugs so the darkened rims don’t show.  I despise the dirty rigs on my own blue mugs, like arctic circles, tea rings, skim milk spilling on the wooden floor beneath the picnic table benches.

Summer circles green and my hair is growing another color, preparing cob-webbed gowns we wear like gauze bandages, covering the cigarette burns on our wrists and upper arms, slices of roast beef for the noonday meal, when we should be eating turkey along with last year’s yellowed photographs, boxed memories of three years’ madness, the hospital gowns, green and open in the back, displaying what we’d prefer to hide behind some sturdier covering.

Summer circles green and my hair is growing another color, asking impossible questions about misplaced rooms and lilacs beside the brick house that stained my childhood brown, brown hair like dirty ponds in winter, though I pretended it was red, imagined I was burning, wondering—will I ever be consumed like bread crumbs scattered to the pigeons that roost on slate roofs, cooing, calling—