80s Big Hair and the Earrings that Ate New Jersey

Blazers with shoulder pads suitable for Pittsburgh Steelers defense...

Pencil skirts with waists that reached the upper clavicle region...

And a white patent leather pocketbook emblazoned with a cartoon barnyard print... (This is something which I know I did not buy myself, and which may have been a remnant of my one Miss Piggy Halloween, where for years thereafter, everyone felt inspired to gift me with random pig-centric items.)

Anyway, these were just a few of the things I found when cleaning out my basement boxes this last week. And it was tucked into the aforementioned example of Barnyard Couture, that I discovered my 1980s high school ID...

Given the width and height of my hair in the photo, it is truly a remarkable example of physics at work, that it actually fit in the purse.

Ah, I remember these days well, too... Where the outgrowth of half an inch of perm meant-- not that I could finally run a comb through my hair and let the squirrels return to the woods. But that it was...

Time for another perm.

My hair was fried better than the Colonel's extra crispy. But what it lacked in, say, softness, and health and, oh... shine... it totally had in diameter.

Which by 1980s standards was very, very cool.

Ah, look at the eyes, smudged with Wet n Wild's colored eyeliner, the best that $0.99 could buy! I spared no expense when it came to beauty.

Look at the smiling yet pained and sweat-misted expression. Because I probably had come straight from having to wrap my leg around my head in the Jane Fonda Workout portion of Phys Ed class. And there's nothing you want to do more after getting yourself in a pretzel position for 40 minutes than have your photo taken for posterity for ever and ever and ever.

It must also have been after lunch, as I completely bucked conventional portraiture traditions by posing with food in my teeth. That was my undaunted rebel nature at work.

(Also because there wasn't enough time between classes to ever really use the restroom.)

And last, I suppose you probably are wondering if I planned to address the elephant in the room-- or rather, the great satellite dishes dangling from my ears.

Yes, those are, in fact, earrings-- those items that look like what would happen if the Care Bear Cartel took over Dish Network.

Well, I am proud to say, I made those myself. Yes, those are official, 100% hand-crafted, hand-beaded, hand-melted-with-Mom's-iron-making-stink-enough-to-scare-the-smoke-detectors, original, 16-ounces-apiece, clip-on, earlobe-screaming tat.

All in rainbow colors, too-- as in the 80s, rainbows meant Joy and Magic and Trendy and, in some cases, Vibrant Overcompensation for Depression. And not, y'know, Diversity like it does today.

So when you get up in the morning, look in the mirror and think, "I have seen better days," just smile and remind yourself:

Your hair fits safely in your car.

Your earrings aren't a smart substitute for a free weight workout.

And the only rainbows you'll see hopefully will be streaking across the rain-spattered sky... and not on your knit sweater, shoelaces, and Trapper Keeper unicorn notebook. (Actually, okay, I still kinda think I might like the notebook.)

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So tell me, folks-- what past fashions do you look back and regret? :)

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39 comments:

ReformingGeek said...

I love the photo.

I had naturally wavy hair but insisted on a perm in the early 80's. UGH! I liked it for about five minutes. I'm hoping all photos of me during that time period have been burned.

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- Oh, we ALL had perms in the 80s. It was virtually mandatory. :) If you could walk through the door without turning sideways or ducking, your hair wasn't big enough. :)

Lili said...

Early 90s for me [after some 70s perms that were just depressing], and at the time there were blonde streaks in my hair, so when the perms were first in, I looked a little like a black and gold sheep.

Jenn Thorson said...

Lili- Ah, I remember that, but I didn't think it looked bad. It is funny though to think you're another person with naturally wavy hair who ended up perming.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I am so glad I was only like 8 in the 80s and only have a pair of red suspenders, paint splattered white pants (made to look that way mind you) and a perm that went waaaay wrong, to haunt my childhood memories.

Jenn Thorson said...

Lisa- You feel about the 80s the way I feel about the 70s. I'm so glad I wasn't responsible for some of the stuff I wore then. :) And YES, that paint spattered stuff was EVERYWHERE. I believe I had a jumpsuit with spatter.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

I let out this little involuntary squee when I realized that was YOU.
Early in school I had the shorter demi-mullet that was like one big wave from one side of my head to the other. This contrasted nicely with my braces. Senior year I had the long hair and bangs that I got up at the crack of dawn every morning to curl with a curling iron and then shellac with Aqua Net.
I confess also that I WANTED Jersey Big Hair for my wedding. In fact I wanted the Jersey Big Hair Full Mass Catholic Wedding With The Big Dress. And I got it.
Oh, I guess I'd better blog. With pictures.

Jenn Thorson said...

Shieldmaiden- Heh, it doesn't look much like me, does it? I look forward to seeing what you come up with, photo-wise! My hair did not rival some of my school mates. One girl was amazing-- she sprayed her hair upside down, straight out. Rumor had it, she used a can of Aquanet a day.

It was art. :)

Jeff said...

Hair parted down the middle. (Class of '89 here, too.)

Jenn Thorson said...

Jeff- Ah, yes-- I remember it well! I had to forgo the middle part when I discovered Aquanet, but many a classmate sported that style. :)

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Class of '83 here. I sported the Scott Baio "Chachi" haircut. Back when I had hair.

unfinishedperson.com said...

For me, it was big glasses...

...and a mustache that rivalled many a porn star.

Jenn Thorson said...

Chris- You pull off the no-hair thing well. And hey, have we seen Scott Baio lately? Do we know his hair per capita these days? :)

UnfinishedDude- Ah, yes-- I recall the photos. It was an impressive 'stache, my friend! You were the only 40-year-old teenager I'd ever seen. :)

Deray said...

Fortunately I was too young in the 80s and my mom wouldn't let me get a perm. I did, however, wear lots of colorful leggings and big t-shirts or sweaters. I also had a pair of multi-colored shoes that combined well with all my clothes, they were bright orange, red, blue and fluorescent green *facepalm*, jajajajaja.

Jenn Thorson said...

Deray- Ah, yes, the fluorescent colors that could burn out our retinas-- ah, how we loved them! I'm impressed you were able to find them all in one shoe-- I imagine that was a huge hit with your classmates then. (I recall wearing jeans with all sorts of patterns printed on them, and thought they were fantastic. :) )

TJ Lubrano said...

Aaaaaaaah look at you! Look at you!! I love the picture! You hair isn't THAT big hehe. Gosh, you should see my mom and dad's picture from that time...they will kill me if I put it on the web I think...

Gosh! I was just a baby in that time. Ooh love Deray's outfit too heheh ^_^. I can imagine her running around like a bright little rainbow!

Ciaoo *waves*

Jenn Thorson said...

TJ- Heh, now don't do anything rash and get yourself killed by your folks. You're too far away for me to fly over and prevent the killing in time. :) Remember: the 80s were a happy time, full of poppy music about walking on sunshine-- also, (ahem) paranoia and nuclear war. :)

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

I had perms in the 80s and....I did them mySELF! With zero training - I had no idea what I was doing, but what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

But you know what? I love that picture of you because it IS so 80s. And I love that you posted on the interwebs for all of posterity!

Jenn Thorson said...

Nanny Goats- So did you look like a starring member of the Little Orphan Annie cast? :) I recall many of my own perms headed that direction.

Re: the photo, I figure there's not much more the Interwebs can say about it that I haven't already joked about, so hey-- why not share the bounty.

Beer Drinker Rob said...

Holy Shit! I almost mistook you for my wife. As 1990 grads of a HS just a few hours outside of Pittsburgh, I was thinking it could be a PA thing. Seriously, my wife looked like a lion and her hair was a pretty bushy mane.

BTW, you forgot to mention the text book protective jackets we were forced to make out of old paper grocery bags, but could then decorate. If I had a kindle now, I'd make one for that! LOL.

Jenn Thorson said...

Rob- Heh, I lived in New Jersey at the time, but it definitely was an 80s look (one that still lurks IN various parts of Jersey and PA, I might add.) I'm sure your wife has since recovered from her lioness locks. :)

Ah, yes-- the garbage bag bookcovers. We even had one grocery store that intentionally put on patterns during the late summer, early fall season that you could color in, knowing full well we were all going to use the paper bags for our bookcovers.

One of my high school friends used to add the logos of all his favorite heavy metal bands to my bookcovers (whether I listened to that band or not).

Ah, I will never forget Yngwie Malmsteen, as a result!

Ladygoodwood said...

Oh My goodness - my kids used to watch a TV show called recess - you look like the girl in that.

However, you got away lightly being a teenager in the 80's. I was a teenager in the 70's - known as the decade when fashion went on vacation.
I tottered around on ankle-breaking platforms, lived in cheesecloth and velvet and wore glitter in my long curly hair and on my cheekbones. My favourite colour combination was black and yellow. I looked like a wasp on stilts!
I am grateful my IT skills are limited so I cannot post a piccie on this comment!
Great, giggly post.
Smiles.

RecycleCindy said...

Gotta love those big hair days! Yes I remember having one of those big hair do's and having it permed all the time. And Jenn those earrings are quite a fashion statement.

Theresa111 said...

You look fabulous and I approve heartily. Admit it ... you miss those fun days.

Jenn Thorson said...

Lady Goodwood- Oh, yes, indeed-- the 70s was not my favorite fashion (or decorating) period. You have my full sympathies-- you and your formerly sparkly self. :)

Cindy- Have you ever tried making earrings out of recycled bags? It could be your new niche market. :)

Theresa- Actually, I really like these days better. I grew up in a really strict, confining family situation, so while some of these memories do put a smile on my face, I wouldn't want to go back. :)

Claire said...

I feel sort of let down by your hair, I was expecting much more volume!

How many extra inches did those earrings add to your lobes?

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- Heh, tough crowd. :) The earrings were clip-ons, which is totally what spared me and my lobes.

Claire said...

Urghh clip ons! That is worse! Haha.

Although I didn't get my ears pierced till I was 18, after my first tattoo and belly button piercing.

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- Heh, I think you went the wrong way with the Increasing Incremements of Pain guidelines on that one. :) I bet after what you endured with the tattoo and the belly button piercing, you probably fell soundly asleep during your ears piercing. :)

madtexter (corey james) said...

I'm a child of the '80s myself and the one thing I regret was wearing a shiny silver & black striped suit with red tie that I wore for my senior picture. Oh, and my STILL post-70's feather coiffure.

It took me a few more years to learn it, but less IS more.

OMG 'Trapper Keeper' - that's a CLASSIC reference!

Nandoism™ said...

I have hair envy now. In those days, I wanted to have high hair like that--but it was allowed on boys, or Mexicans...and I was both! Oy! But today,I will show them!

Great post! Your new fan!

Jeremy said...

I had a frightening bourgeois, Tommy Hilfiger faze in the ninth and 10th grades in which I attempted to fit into a crowd where I didn't belong. Glad I quickly got over that.

Robert Crane said...

i, unlike you with your hair and pads and skirts oh my, had a rather stylish pair of gray bell bottoms with maroon pockets, something i long for once again, if only in a 34+ waistline for an inseem that has moved a good four inches south as a result (and i'm pretty sure of this) global warming.

you guys killed fashion, if i may be so bold!

Thoryke said...

BTW, how many people saw those earrings and wanted to yell "Showtime, Synergy!"?

wordtapestry said...

OOh, rainbow embroidered (down one side, across the butt, then down the front of one leg) jean overalls matched with copper/brown velvet sneakers, long-sleeved t-shirt, Strawberry Smackers lip gloss, and long hair that weighed more than I did. It was like I was trying out for a competition with Karen Carpenter, Cousin Itt, AND Doug Henning. Sigh. I do miss being able to stop in at the Rainbow Store (not the clothing one, the one that was filled with prisms and unicorns and ribbons). With all that hair, ribbons were kind of addictive.

Lili said...

And then there's this sign of Dooooom: leggings!

http://educatedandpoor.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-wait-until-2012.html

Jenn Thorson said...

Corey- Actually, that sounds pretty sharp! I mean, out of context now, but by 80s standards, very "awesome."

Nandoisms- Heh, I hope that works out for you. High hair is coming back. Also hats!

Jeremy- Ah, well, just don't leave much evidence lying around, and you'll be safe.

Bob- But we had fun doing it! :)

Lil- Those earrings were a big hit back then. They weren't even considered crazy-big then, even though they were the size of trash can lids.

WordTapestry- You just described one of my favorite outfits. We would have gotten along swimmingly in high school!

Lili- See, I was trying to tell someone that leggings had come back and she refused to believe me. (Or maybe was just in denial.) :)

WILL. NOT. WEAR. STIRRUP. PANTS. AGAIN.

Janene Murphy said...

Too funny. I swear you could just cut out my high school photo and place it right on top of yours. The hair? The earrings? The same! There's so much I regret about Eighties fashion. Capezio dance shoes, remember those? Ugly as sin. Members Only jackets? Yikes! Still, I thought I looked wicked awesome. Thanks for taking me back!

Yael said...

I wish I could have been a teenager back then, but no, I was stuck being born in 1997, when I watch John Hughes movies, I always think, "Wow, being a teen back then must have been super-fun". I have two high-school yearbooks from then, they are my uncle's, I love looking at all the hairstyles and clothing, honestly, there is no better decade.