If you can believe it, I was quite the demanding (and too smart for my own good) child. So when I was about to enter first grade (GRADE SCHOOL, BITCHES!), that meant it was time for a grownup hairdo, which in 1989, was obviously a perm (or a “permanent” as the salon professionals would say).

I convinced my cousin Lindsay that she also needed a perm to be cool and mature like me and forced her to back me up on the issue. We told our moms…and I did NOT get the response I was hoping for. See, my mom has naturally curly/wavy hair, but I had stick-straight strands that she never really figured out what to do with. I swear, you would have thought I had the locks of a little black boy as clueless as she was with how to make me look cute in the head region (stay tuned for a future post on my infamous bowl-mullet). Also, my hair was short…and I had bangs. You perm short hair and what do you get? A Jew fro.

“I just don’t think your hair will hold a perm the right way,” she said. (Oh, NOW she wanted to act like she knew something about my situation.)

I don’t remember exactly what was said after that, but I eventually wore her down, and Lindsay and I were booked for perms at what we thought was the fanciest salon in town. Looking back, it was in a strip mall and probably had the word “Cutz” in the name.

When we got to the salon, there was hushed talk amongst the adults about my hair type and style not being ideal for a perm, but my mom didn’t dare crush my dreams. Knowing her sense of humor, she probably knew how it would turn out and just thought, “This should be good.” OF COURSE, Lindsay’s perm turned out perfectly and she rode off into the sunset on her horse with her curly blonde locks flowing in the wind (that bitch did have a horse, too.)

And here’s how I looked on the first day of grade school:
perm 1I mean, that is the hair of a child who doesn’t even have a mother. Actually, that is the hair of a child who doesn’t even have a home.

In case you think maybe I mussed it up on the way to school, here’s a picture of me waiting for the school bus, straight out of my mom’s care:
school busAnd what is that grocery bag-looking tote? I mean, can I get a Jansport?! But at least I was rocking a romper (#trendsetter).

I never quite figured out how to style my perm. The hairdresser at Whatever Cutz told me to use a pick instead of a brush, and I think you can imagine that neither my mom nor I ever mastered that one. It just turned into this big, hot ’80s mess, so I had to go around pretending I was in Flashdance all the time.

Although my dance moves weren’t quite at provocative.

The perm finally grew out but plenty of fails (read: ’90s Jersey bangs, Angela Chase-inspired dye jobs, skunk-inspired highlights) followed throughout my formative years.

It’s a good thing I was smart.


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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. I am seriously CRYING laughing at this

  2. I definitely had the same exact experience, down to the strip mall salon, but it took me until 2nd grade to wear Paula down. Oh, and my story is even more sad because my hair was down to my ass with perfect, shiny waves that I spend hours trying to recreate with various heat tools now. I hate 7 year old me.

  3. ROFL, my mom and aunt used to HOLD ME DOWN kicking and screaming and forced me to get home perms! It was pure child torture! They did it from the ages of 5 thru 10 and I finally put my foot down and screamed and yelled and fought them off until they finally gave up. Perms SUCK! UGH!

  4. Darling, you would have fit in perfectly in my Hebrew school class.

    Shalom, Ashley!


    Your favorite blonde Jew

    PS I also have hair PTSD. My hair grows out of my head looking just like that only blonde and my mom felt it necessary for me to rock a very short “Yellow Bozo the Clown” ‘do for the better part of 2nd and 3rd grades


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