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


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