UnNatural Beauty

Cindy Borsi 2022

So my very first image-changing experience was NOT my idea. My mother and grandmother thought it would be fun for me to get my first perm before starting school. Here is what I remember - it was painful and smelly! It may be the first time I ever heard the saying “Beauty is sometimes born of pain,” which I’m pretty sure my grandmother said to me as I complained. But truth be told, my first perm was NO BEAUTY! And I cried through the scalp burning and stink that occurred during this lengthy procedure. My mother, who loved to save money, learned so much that day observing the hairdresser, so my next few perms were “Toni Perms” performed at home by Mom. Ready to see my first perm? Here you go:

Here’s a brilliant photograph of an at-home perm (from back in the day):

Like many people, I looked at everyone else as attractive, and I was just a miserable "wannabe." The way I looked mattered far too much to me. There were days I wouldn't leave the house because my Mom had chosen an outfit that I'd rather die than be seen wearing. I was SUPER skinny and bony as a kid but also tall. And when I was growing up, finding clothes that fit me correctly was not in the cards unless my mother was in a sewing mood; then, I'd get clothing that fits but styles chosen by my mother, not me. Nightmare! My self-esteem suffered terribly because I considered myself ugly and seriously unfashionable. 

 Grade School, Middle School, High School were a "personal image" related nightmare. And along the way, I had some epic failures when trying to reinvent myself. I can summarize the first time I tried to take charge and "change my look" in three words: a complete disaster. I was in Middle School, and I took all my babysitting earnings, and without my parents' permission, I walked into a local beauty parlor [Yes! That's what we called it back in the day], and I requested blond highlights throughout my very dark hair. I walked home weeping many hours later because I had lost considerable hair (burnt to inches from my scalp), and my highlights were orange. No pictures taken.

 Hard to believe, but I continued experimenting with my look. Before Senior pictures taken in my Junior year, I thought it would be a great idea to get my haircut like Billie Jean King. Yup! That's right! Super smart idea. Even the hairdresser said, "Are you sure?" Because of the Internet, I was able to find the magazine cover I took with me for another disastrous image enhancement. Here are the results:

 

 UGH! What was I thinking? 

 By some miracle, by the Fall of my senior year, my hair grew just enough to add the Farrah Fawcett flip (or feathering) to the front of my hairline, and truth be told, I felt pretty damn good about the new hairdo and added highlights. And I took that Farrah Fawcett feathering right into college, and I loved it. It was the first hairdo that healed my ego. I gained confidence, lost some of my awkwardness, gained a little weight, and found peace. I began to feel like less of an outsider. With confidence came a healthy sense of humor about myself. It was a blessing. 

 

Since the Farrah Fawcett tread was such a massive success for me. Wink, Wink. I stuck with it for a very long time. When changing up was eventually required, I figured the Fawcett hair tread success meant I should continue following treads throughout my adulthood. As you will witness, there were more disasters. 

 With the 80s came the mullet. Yes, I had a mullet, and guess which occasion I chose to showcase my first mullet? I was married in my first mullet. And I'm pretty sure Paulette had one too!  Here a pre-wedding party were I am rocking my mullet:

After the mullet lost steam, I went back to perms. I know. I learned nothing! Zero. Zilch! Nada. But I have some fabulous pictures to share of my big hair days. Take a gander:

 

My perms lasted through the 90s and the "Big Hair" days. I must find and add a glam shot of me to this collection. Every mall in America offered glam photographs. You dressed in over-the-top trendy sexy clothing, heavily applied makeup, and "volumized" hair and posed. When I find my glam shot I will insert it at a later date. Here's a space-saver from the Mall Glam Era:

 

 After my big hair perm days, I fluctuated between medium length and super short hair for many years. Both lengths required daily washing, round brushes, hairdryers, and hair spray. See for yourself:

 Along with hair treads, I also followed fashion treads throughout, which is quite evident in the photographs I've shared. I wore some crazy stuff until the early 2000s, when I began to enjoy a more classic approach to dressing, leaning heavily towards comfort. It made dressing a lot less complicated. By 2008, I was determined to go from super short to long hair. It took forever to grow from short to long hair, so consequently, I got hair extensions for my second wedding. Here's a pic: 

 

I've been growing my hair long ever since (with and without bangs). I've made some minor color changes, nothing drastic until this month. I prefer it straight, but that might be because I suck at using a curling iron. :) When looking through my history in photographs, I've made the switch towards a more natural approach to my look and style with age. However, even at my age, I still enjoy seeing the treads, but I'm less inclined to jump on the style bandwagons. But this year, after a long period of COVID self-maintenance, it was time for a change, so I added silver highlights to my hair via extensions, and I've changed my glasses after wearing the same pair for over five years. 

 

 So that's my image story. It's weird to be sharing about myself but fun too! I sure would enjoy hearing or seeing some of your unnatural beauty.

Let's talk. Let's share.

xo Cindy

 


4 comments


  • Cindy

    Dave: What a great share!! Thank you. I really enjoyed reading about your hair :) and family. It’s funny and interesting that hair plays such a significant role in our personal history.


  • Dave

    Reading this, Cindy, brought back my hair choices and consequences.

    Grade school was the Butch cut, basically a High N Tight.

    Was allowed grow my hair a little in middle school, and in grew in curly blonde, which I
    of two minds about. Girls liked it, so great!
    Older boys hated me for the same reason, which afforded me the opportunity to learn to box, and get plenty of school yard practice.

    We moved to 1950s Pelham from 1971 Birmingham where long hair on those with Y Chromosome Poisoning, as my Sister’s called it, was gaining popularity.

    Jr. High, grew it a bit longer, appreciated it a little more and the practice as well.

    The kids in Jr. High knew me, for better or worse, I had a degree of acceptance with them, some were good friends.

    Thompson High in Alabaster/Siluria was an order of magnitude more complex initially.

    Freshman year started with a Bang. A lot of them. The pecking order had been shuffled with the introduction of a Long-Haired Hippie Drummer Alpha-Male with honed boxing skills and Working toward three Black Belts and a cool, confident laid back demeanor.

    The established pecking order had approximately 100 males in my age/grade while the remaining 200 or so were all older, mostly bigger and stronger, but not another Long-haired Hippie, except one very brave brother with a Fro picked to spherical perfection. We became friends a few days later, which went over as one would expect.

    Anyway, the two minds dynamic was amplified on both ends. A wise man once told me, “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.” so I leaned in, let the curly get longer.

    The summer before Sophomore year, I learned to wet my hair thoroughly and shake vigorously while bent over until most of the moisture was gone. Then stand up and shake till it hangs like I wanted.

    Had to do it every school day and/or school event.

    The daily doses of attempted bullying I enjoyed, allowed me and the Asst. Principle to hangout while getting lectured for defending myself successfully and issuing learning experiences to the testosterone poisoned.

    Saving grace was that I was received A’s and B’s,, was a band member and never started any of it, And the Asst. P. enjoyed my blow by blow comentary of the events, which he would hear from those who watched the proceedings.

    Never expelled, suspended or even written up or received a demerit.

    The long and curly hit sholder length and beyond and stayed through High School.

    After that the hair was cut to common adult lengths except during military service.

    My sisters whined about all they, like you Cindy, had to do with their hair, gave me a gratitude bump about my long & curly choices. Felt so sorry for them while they experimented with hair issues, and your blog post helped me remember it.

    Thanks, Cindy.
    Sorry, for this long-winded comment.


  • Cindy

    Lucia: Yes!!! I have memories of those caps too! However, I believe I was the person helping someone else with their hair and not experimenting with my own. I do remember the results were far from beautiful! ha!


  • Lucia

    How fun you shared, most of which I could relate to….except the skinny kid part! You had me on the mullet too, not enough hair for that one.
    You brought a smile to my face, remembering one of many, Sue, big sister stories.
    My biggest hair disaster was when a girlfriend spent the night and we frosted our hair. I wanted more highlights than before, so she pulled my hair through every hole. Pretty sure what little hair wasn’t pulled through was already frosted. Needless to say I looked like I had a bad bleach job growing out. With a scarf, yes probably 15, with a scarf on my head, my sister took me to pick out a brown hair dye. She pulled lots of that frosted hair back through the cap and dyed it brown. At least I only suffered a sore head from that crochet hook poking me and didn’t have to go to school with a scarf on my head. 🤣


Leave a comment