Beauty Torture- First Perm

I found a picture which I am sharing with you, because it is an example of the beauty routine I was forced to endure as a very young child. You are very fortunate that you were children born in the eighties and were not subjected to this periodic form of womanly torture. I am guessing that I was approximately five years old when this photo was taken.

Alan, Karen, and Billy- about 1960
Alan, Karen, and Billy- about 1960

The curlers you see in my hair were the result of what was known at that time as the greatest invention to women—the Toni home permanent. It was a long process, and as the mother of three girls, I wonder how I was able to endure the awful procedure at such a young age.

First Grandma washed my hair, then she wrapped thin little papers around sectioned-off strands of hair before rolling them on tiny little rods. Next, the most god-awful-smelling solution in the world was dabbed on each curler (it was a cross between rotten eggs and a dead body), and then you waited for the curls to set. This was probably when this photo, the only one I have with Billy and Alan, was taken:

The next step was to wash my hair (in the kitchen sink), apply a neutralizing solution, and then wait again before Grandma finally removed the curlers. As fans of Legally Blonde, you all know that Grandma could not wash my hair for forty-eight hours. So I had to continue to endure that smell, although it was a bit weaker than when wet. I was such a good little girl!

For years, I continued to put up with Grandma and Toni until I was old enough to curl my own hair. At that time, I would go to bed every single night with curlers in my hair. This was clearly not very comfortable but for me, but it was a better choice than a day with Toni. (Yes, the smell was that bad!)

I continued to do this through my college years. In fact, I recall one night when I wanted to visit my friend, Sue, who lived at the other side of campus. In order to avoid being attacked, my friend Karen and I devised a strategy, which was to roll our hair in curlers (to look ugly and unappealing to all potential assailants), and grab a couple of baseball bats. Our plan worked, because we are both still alive today to tell the tale. I wonder if she remembers that story.

So girls, consider yourselves lucky that you were able to have all your hair treatments done by professionals in salons instead of by Mom in the kitchen.