When I was in junior high, the hairstyle to aim for was straight, shiny (see Breck ads), and rolled up at the ends. My friend Linda always had perfect hair, a shoulder-length sheet ending in a neat hair-tube curving around the back of her neck. I had no success at this. Curlers would fall out in the night. Locks of hair would flop or go askew. Then all day I’d be conscious that I looked wrong, wrong, wrong.
For a while I had shorter hair that required me to wind the pieces in front of my ears around my finger into pincurls at night and clamp them in place with crossed bobby pins. I had puffed bangs, and at their central point I pinned a tiny velvet bow each day, a different color to go with whatever outfit I was wearing. The effect was supposed to be cute and perky, two adjectives not applicable to me. Also, the bows would lose their grip and slide sideways and down as the day went on.
Somewhat later there was the sprayed-in-place style that made your head bubble-shaped and the surface of your hair hard enough to knock on. There was also the poodle cut. Did I ever have a poodle cut? I believe I did, briefly. I prefer not to think about it.
In high school once, we had something called Grub Day, when we could wear jeans and do our hair any way we wanted to. I let my hair alone that day, and it was the only day in all those years that I really felt I looked good. I looked like myself. Luckily, a few years after high school, the Sixties arrived and my hair was finally set free.
Jeanne DuPrau is a writer of fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is best known for The City of Ember, a New York Times Children’s Bestseller, and its three companion books, The People of Sparks, The Diamond of Darkhold, and The Prophet of Yonwood. The Ember series is read by children from the age of ten on up and often by adults as well. It was made into a movie starring Bill Murray in 2008. Jeanne is also the author of a young adult novel called Car Trouble, a memoir called The Earth House, several non-fiction books, and various essays, book reviews, and stories.