I was going through old pictures at my mom’s house and came across two that defined my early life: the beautiful, dutiful third-grade daughter and the rebellious but awkward sixth grader.
All I could see when I first got my six-grade picture done was the acne on my face, but now that I’m older, when I look at the picture, I notice my wrinkle-free skin. What I didn’t notice right away and didn’t see until I took a second look at the picture was the mole on my neck and my fang. My fang was a tooth that got pushed out of line so high that whenever I smiled and then stopped my lip would get hung up on the tooth and it would look like I was sneering. Running my tongue across my teeth to push my lip off it became a habit. Even today, 35 years after braces fixed the problem, I still find my tongue sliding over to see if anything is hung up.
The mole on my neck was the part of my body that I loved the most back then. For some odd reason, I thought it made my neck look longer. Unfortunately, it became a victim of the seatbelt laws that were created in the 80’s. That mole was also in the exact spot that the seatbelt would touch my neck. Each time I moved the belt would rub and push and sometimes pull against the mole. So I had it removed.
But it was my hair that was the symbol of my rebelliousness. Some days, it rebelled on its own without any help from me…..who am I kidding, it was most days. When I was in elementary school, my mother used to do my hair every morning before I went to school. She would brush it out until she tamed the waves and either left it down or tied it back in braids or bows based on how wavy my hair was behaving that day. At the end of the school year, she would have it cut in a pixie style because I lived in the pool all summer long and she didn’t want to deal with combing out all the snarls that would be produced. Each school year, the hair would quickly grow back so my mother would have a “canvas” with which to create all her favorite hairstyles. But in the summer in between 5th and 6th grade, I rebelled. I didn’t want a pixie, I wanted a shag. (Hey, it was the early 70’s.) My mother told me no, that it wouldn’t be a good haircut for me, but I persisted and she finally gave in. If you don’t know my mother, let me tell you, she didn’t give in to indulge her child, she gave in to show me that I was wrong and mother was right. (And she was right, but I don’t ever tell her.) My Hair! What did I do?
But that moment in hair history was an important one. It’s the moment from which I started making the decisions on my hair. Although most of high school went by with permed hair, (hey it was the late 70’s!) I’ve found that I prefer short hair–so much quicker to take care of. And when getting it cut, I always tell them to cut the back shorter. I don’t want any shag nightmares coming back to me when my hair is growing out. Remember Carol Brady from the Brady Bunch and how her shag would curl up in the back? I don’t like that look…..so guess whose hair does exactly that when growing out? Of course, now that I have some skills with a round brush and a blow dryer, it’s not as bad but if my hair isn’t completely dried by the time I go outside, those curls come back.
There was only one other time that my mother had any say in how my hair looked, my high school yearbook photo. My original picture had me with long, permed hair or how I actually looked in high school. Mother didn’t like that, so she scheduled to have my pictures retaken at the photo studio and then made a hair appointment before the studio appointment. The picture doesn’t show the true me, it’s not how I looked in high school at all, but it’s how my mother wants to remember me. To this day, she has the pictures of all 5 of her children sitting on top of a corner cabinet. She can’t see them now, but she knows they are there. (I wonder if, when speaking to any of us, that’s how she pictures us in her mind?)