Up until 1965, curly hair was the best kind to have. But a new style came about when the folk singer Joan Baez was reported to keeping her hair straight so that she could "escape the tedium of femininity." Also, many popular British singers were keeping their hair long and straight as well as models in fashion and on television. This all came about to influence young girls to keep their hair from being curly.
One sure way for girls with naturally curly hair to go straight was with the use of an anti-permanent. These were either expensive or odorous, messy, and unpleasant and soon led to the idea of using an iron. Though ironing had to be done after every washing, it was an easy thing to do. The girl having her hair straightened would sit at eye-level to an ironing board and lay her hair over it. Then a friend could go over it inch by inch and be done in less than ten minutes. One just had to be careful about not turning the iron on too hot and doing serious damage to their hair.
Some claimed that beside straightening hair, ironing made it fine and soft. But the best part about having straight hair was the dramatic change in appearance. Men were so accustomed to seeing teased and billowy hair that this new style proved shocking. A sophomore from Colorado Women's College said "My father almost fainted when he saw me in the straight hair look." Many adults were surprised that young women would go to such radical lengths just to change their appearance and few thought they did it just out of peer pressure.
Some had a fear of overdoing or overheating their hair too much. And in mid-1966 a New York University dermatologist reported that ironing "may cause so much breakage that the hair will look thin in places." But the story of a University of Wisconsin student who accidentally burned the shape of an iron into her roommate's hair didn't help this fad along very much either.
However, beauticians today say that all the fuss about harming hair was silly, since curling irons and blow dryers work in the same way as clothing irons. Whether ill-advised or not though, ironing hair was fast going out of style. Many went back to the old ways or found new ones for keeping hair straight since the look was still popular well into the 1970's.
*Return To GGG HomePage
Any suggestions for or comments about our site? Visit our general message board and. . .well. . .leave a message! You can also e-mail us and we'll try to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks once again for visiting our site!