Girls on Film: The Movie Hair that Shaped Us
And potentially nearly caused a few straightener-related fires along the way
I can vividly remember the first time I watched 10 Things I Hate About You. I saw it three times in a row when it first came out. I only sort of knew what a “Prada” was and I was mesmerized by all of the belly buttons. More than that, however, I was completely and utterly besotted with Julia Stiles’ hair. It was curly in all the right places and straight in all the others. It hung by her waist as a sort of fortress. Yes, she was smart, fiery, feminist-y. And yes, she got Heath Ledger in the end (by being herself!). But it was her hair — her long, twirling mane spiraling down her back that inspired me for years to come.
It’s pretty amazing that I still have hair given what I’ve done to it in the name of mimicking the on-screen women I’ve loved (straightening, waving, applying potentially illegal chemicals that required I wear a FACE MASK during the procedure). But these cinematic hair-muses shaped my childhood, teenage years, and if I’m being completely honest, even now. So rather than fight my hair with an iron, I’d like to celebrate these women and raise my round brush to the following:
Cady Heron, Mean Girls At the apex of her career, Lindsay Lohan made me want to be a redhead. Her character in Mean Girls, Cady Heron, was the ideal high school movie heroine: she became popular, claimed the iron throne, learned her lesson, and then realized that life was about a lot more than pretending to be bad at math. In fact, she was fantastic at math. She was also funny, wordly and smart, which meant her hair — that auburn, loose-waved hair — was too.
Cher Horowitz had a heart of gold. She also had The Most Perfect Blowout of all time: silky, full of body, with the ends flipped under like a shampoo commercial. I spent hours in the bathroom trying to copy it — a goal I almost achieved once. But that’s the thing about (almost) getting your hair to do exactly what you want…it only happens sporadically.
Cher’s better half, Dionne, matched her in both plaid outfits and tress ferocity. Her hair was an amazement of flawless braids that she’d toss over her shoulder with a manicured backhand and major attitude. Sometimes, for Val parties, she added ribbons. She also clearly wore the baggy pants in her relationship with Murray and mastered his vernacular: “Most of the feminine pronouns do have mocking, but not necessarily misogynistic undertones” is something I vastly underrated at the time. But not her hair. I immediately appreciated her hair.
Wednesday Addams: The Addams Family
I lived for Wednesday Addams’ widow’s peak, and long, braided, jet-black hair. She was scary in a boss way, and her side-eye could cut a bitch. You did not mess with Wednesday Addams. I spent a solid four months braiding my hair in different ways to emulate her…mostly when I played softball in the outfield because nothing ever came my way. Looking back, it was time well spent.
Ali MacGraw’s character Jenny Cavalleri was mesmerizing. She was fierce, funny, independent, sexy without being sexualized and most importantly, confident. Because of her I wore oversized collegiate sweatshirts, parted my hair severely down the middle and very seriously considered ironing it with an actual iron.
I still have a picture of these women in my mind, and I have an actual picture of Julia Stiles taped to my childhood bathroom mirror should I feel inspired to bust out the old crimper/product-cocktail. But in reflecting on these women at the age I am now, I’ve realized that the fascination was not only about the hair. It was about the heads each strand was attached to — strong, funny, intelligent heads — which means that personality adds just as much to a hair style (if not more) as the actual hair.
Now it’s your turn. What movie ‘do inspired you?