Lockness Diva

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

For the first time in over thirty-five years, I am flat, not fluffy, and it just seems so weird. I’m talking about HAIR! When I look back on my follicle history, I have mostly had BIG hair, except for a few periods of my life.

Up until I was two years of age, I had no hair at all. My mom used to tape pink bows to my scalp so that people would not think I was a boy. Then as I finally got hair, it looked like blonde peach fuzz. As I grew older, my mom’s favorite choice for me was pigtails. My photos of yesteryear are the spittin’ image of the little blonde Coppertone girl, big bangs and two big ponytails.

When I was six, I remember going to bed with socks in my hair to add fluff and curl the next day. We all wanted to look like the Lennon sisters from the Lawrence Welk show. Socks were a piece of cake compared to the curlers that followed. First there were the netted wire curlers and then the dreaded hard plastic ones with big teeth that dug into your head causing sleep deprivation.

Then, at eight years old, the most dreaded thing happened. My mother made me get a PERM! I hated it. I hated her. I hated the cosmetologist. Even though at the time, I did not know who little Orphan Annie was, I now know I looked just like her, except MY tight kinky ringlets were mousey brown. I looked like I had an afro, which would have been cool in the seventies, but certainly not cool in the late fifties when most of the girls had hair like Annette Funicello from the Mickey Mouse Club and all those Beach Blanket Babe movies. I looked like a misfit!

By twelve, all the girls wanted to look like LuLu from To Sir With Love. A short, sassy bob was all it took. I recently saw this English songstress on American Idol, and she looked better today than she did in the sixties, including her hair! Wish I could say the same thing.

Pricilla Presley entered the scene a few years later with gently teased and heavily sprayed locks. Keep in mind, I was not an Elvis fan, but Priscilla was highly regarded as a queen for having won the king’s heart. We all wanted to look like her and big beer can rollers with huge bobby pins made it all possible.

And then it happened. Summer Blonde hit the shelf. The TV ads promoting the product showed gorgeous women in skimpy bathing suits surrounded by handsome drooling hunks. I fell fast for it, my first introduction to adding “highlights” to my natural hair color. Yes, I resembled Christie Brinkley at first, but a few more days in the sun and I began to look like Lucille Ball. A few weeks after that, coupled with several visits to the neighborhood pool, the sun and chlorine made me look like a calico cat. Not pretty, even though I must admit I did attract a few handsome hunks that summer. Who knows, maybe it wasn’t my hair that attracted them?

My next phase of hair care took me into positions that were previously unknown to me. Ironing my hair became pure art, trying to straighten it without causing burnt split ends. I recall having a sore neck for over a week after one episode of carefully pressing my tresses bent over backwards like I was doing the limbo with the ironing board. Regardless of what it took, I was determined to have long sleek hair “Blowin’ In The Wind” like Mary from Peter, Paul and Mary.

Sweet sixteen featured the perfect flip, and when I say perfect I mean it. It had to be even all the way around. Not lower in the back, but a symmetrical semicircle of tootsie roll-like follicles. Teen icons like all those chicks on Shindig with their tall white leather boots forced us to buy our first electric curlers so we would fit the mold and look just like them. Frankly, I still have scars on my scalp and neck from those incredibly hot rods, which would supposedly make us look HOT!

College brought on bell bottoms and, once again, long, very straight hair was back in style. I was always proud when someone stopped me and thought I was Ali McGraw from Love Story. Whether I was dressed for the May Day dance, or for the Viet Nam war protest on campus, I was coiffed the same way.

Farah Fawcett hair was all the rage after college, and I adopted the look for the next twenty years. Okay, maybe I took it too far, but it was so easy. It looked as good piled high on my head for an up-do as it did shaggily hanging down. All I had to do to maintain the bi-levelness was to pull my hair up in a pony-tail on the top of my head and cut it, or curl it. But, as a result, I gained the reputation of big hair, big mouth and big boobs. Oh yea, I know what people say about me. Call me anything but naïve. Recently, I was looking back on some of my old TV shows that I hosted over the past thirty-five years, and the trio mentioned above holds true.

Last year, I finally got the nerve to cut my hair very short, but it was still BIG. Thanks to mousse, gel and the art of spiking, I could have passed for Rod Stewart. Now my hairdresser says the pageboy look is back, but this time smooth and flat. It was actually traumatic for me to buy a flatiron after the last quarter of a century with BIG hair. I have an image to uphold, and I feel like a hypocrite using it, yet I must admit, it is easier than the ironing board use to be. But what’s a girl to do? We’ve got to be in vogue. We’ve got to be stylish. We’ve got to be cool, because when all is said and done, what is HAIR today could be gone tomorrow!

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