Sixty-Eight Years of Hair

On August 13, my friend Kathie from ChosenPerspectives wrote a post about her hair. (Kathie was responding to a post by Marilyn Armstrong from Serendipity.) I related to many of Kathie’s experiences and decided it would be fun to take a look at the 68 year journey I have had with my own hair. It has been fascinating to pour through all of my old photograph albums.

My hair in its natural state may have a touch of wave but is mainly straight. You can see that in these early photos of me.

In those days, though, curls were in fashion. Even though I have no memory of it, I believe that at bedtime my mother rolled small clusters of my hair into loops and pinned them to my head using bobby pins. The result- curly hair!

(Click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.)

At some point, my mother started giving me perms. The hairdo below looks like it could have been during that time but it is hard to say.

Around 8 years

My hair has always been very thick. My mother thinned it out a lot when I was young. I have always wondered if all the thinning caused it to become even thicker.  Probably not. Later in my life a beautician told me I had enough hair for 10 heads… or was it 20…. I don’t remember for sure.

Eventually, my mother started using rollers like these on my hair. It is even possible those rollers were the curling method used to create my curls in some of the photos above.


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Then came the big rollers. Can you believe we slept on these?


Photo Credit: Fifties Web

These pictures were taken when I was 12-17. I imagine I was using both perms and the big rollers in those days. I cringe when I look at a lot of the photos from this period.

I remember a particular beauty parlor appointment during my teenage years. The beautician was excited by how thick my hair was so she teased it, making puff way out. When I got home I combed out all of the teasing. My mother was furious since I had completely wasted the money that she had spent on having my hair done.

There was no picture of my hair after it was teased but I found a YouTube video that shows the process at high speed! I found it fascinating to watch. (I turned off the music; wasn’t in the mood for that part of it!)

My hair was medium length when I left for college.

Leaving home for college!

I found two photos from my first two years of college. As I looked at them I was struck  by how thin I was back then. It seemed even more strange since I remember being ridiculed during high school about my large hips and my protruding stomach. In high school someone actually thought I was pregnant.

I started letting my hair grow long as my hippie days began. The picture below is from 1970, the summer I spent doing migrant farm labor across the country. (To learn more about that experience click here.)

21 years

On my wedding day in 1971 (22 years) my hair was even longer.

It was still long when Sreejit (1974) and Chaitanya (1977) were born.

There was a time right before my husband and I separated in 1978 when I knew he preferred my hair to be long and my mother vehemently wanted me to cut it off. In those days, I was very angry with both of them and I didn’t want to do anything that would please either one of them. What a double bind that was! I decided to please myself and kept it long.

Around 1984, I finally cut it. That phase lasted for ten years or so.

Playing around
Playing around

I started growing it out again in the mid 90’s.

My hair has always had many colors in it. It was mostly blondish but there were also brown, gray and even occasional reddish strands. A  beautician once suggested I highlight my hair. I could see no reason for doing that. As far as I was concerned, I had “natural” highlights.

At some point, maybe around 1998 (50 years of age), I cut my hair short once again. During the years that followed, the beautician seemed to cut it shorter every time I went to see her. This photo of me with a friend’s newborn is the only photo I have from that time period.


Somewhere around 2006 (58 years), I began longing to have my hair long again, but I told myself old people don’t wear their hair long. I was also concerned that having it long would accentuate the fact that my face was beginning to sag.

After several years of holding that attitude, it became clear to me that my face was going to look saggy regardless of my hair length so I decided it was time to once again make a decision based solely on what I wanted to do with my hair… so I let it grow.

In my early sixties, a young man walked up to me in a parking lot, said “Thank you SO much for not dying your hair,” and then walked away. It was such a surprise. I had never seen him before, or since. It was a fun experience and validated my long held belief that I shouldn’t use dyes or any other product, other than shampoo, on my hair.

I love this photo a friend took of me six or seven years ago.


And here is one with my blogging friend Cheryl-Lynn from Quebec.


And last but not least one, that was taken a few weeks ago!

Karuna, Kathie, Dean and Lenore

While my hair has never been as long as it was in the 70’s, I still keep it at a length that I consider long. I don’t plan to change that until I am too old to take care of it. Of course, I could make a different decision at any time.

I imagine those of you reading this post have hair stories of your own. Consider sharing them in the comments section.

cropped-senior-salon  Shared with Senior Salon


46 thoughts on “Sixty-Eight Years of Hair

  1. This is all I can think of in response…

    The first is of the original singers who made it a hit.

    And the second a live, more current version of it. This one reminds me of how the play actually was. I went to the opening in LA in the 60’s with my best friend. He was blind and though I was used to “narrating” visual things for him, I have to say it was hard to describe what was happening as those actors streamed out into the audience singing and touching everyone’s hair!!!!! (or when they got naked later!!!)

    Terrific post Karuna!


    1. Thanks so much for the videos Kathie. They sure bring back memories for me! A friend and I went to see the Hair production in Seattle about ten years ago. And the Hair cast was present when I, along with 250,000 other people went to the Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1971. Thanks also for inspiring this post in the first place by writing about your journey with hair.


  2. Kathie put me on to this piece. Reading through and seeing the photos was an unexpected treat. Seeing some of your history is wonderful — and that’s especially so in light of your contribution to my life. Bless you in all ways, always, Karuna.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, it is so nice to hear from you. Such a big surprise. I hope you look through more of the blog. My life has been an amazing journey and I love blogging. I will click on the address that came with your comment and see where it leads.


  3. OMG hair stories!!! I love this as you know being raised by a hairdresser…I may actually use this post as a theme this week. I only started at 39 to let my hair grow. My mother as well as many people would say ,”You cannot wear black or have long hair after you hit 40″. Oh, Yeah! I like to contradict. I often say, “Why will short hair make my wrinkles disappear? Will I look younger with tight curls and blue hair?” I rest my case.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t remember that she was a hairdresser!

      L found listening to other people on the issue of my hair was rather crazy making. If I wore my hair long people would say it made me look young. Then when I cut it they would say wearing it shorter made me look SO much younger.

      I love your tight curls and blue hair retort!


    2. Did you see Sreejit’s version of the hair post? He wrote it last night and I reblogged it so you can see it both places if you haven’t. I think it is hilarious.

      I hope you do decide to write a hair post yourself. I sure would enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will check it later…I need to find photos of my shaved head and punk look in my 30`s with blonde, brown and red hair…I don’t seem to have a photo of my purple hair…darn!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice that you still have a lot of hair. I had a lot until I got sick. I think surgery, anesthesia, medication, and illness have taken a toll. At least I do still have hair. I’d prefer more, but I’m glad to have enough to cover my head 🙂 GREAT pictures. I think we all had the same high school senior picture photographer. We all looked the same 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, illness can certainly take a toll on hair. I’m glad that you still have enough to cover your head.

      Thanks for the laugh about high school senior photographers. The drape they used at that point is so not me.

      Thanks also for writing the post that gave Kathie, Sreejit and me the opportunity to write ours.


  5. This was my reply to Sreejit’s post. Re posting it here
    I first had my head shaved for pancha karma in 2006. Since around 2011 I keep it buzzed at #2 in summer, #3 in winter and #1 or 0 in India. Stroking my head when it’s just been buzzed at #2 feels like petting a cat. I love it! Haven’t used a comb in years and thinning hair is no longer an issue.🙂


  6. this was such a fun trip through history. your pictures (in fact, the whole blog) should go in a museum reconstructing the past 60 years. and thanks for the video of Hair…more memories.

    have been meaning to tell you that, very unfortunately, ‘these boots are made for walking’ from your post last Sunday has been running through my mind and I haven’t been able to stop it. washing dishes, walking, driving, any time I’m a bit quiet it shows up. help!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow…. thanks for saying all of this. I’m glad you feel that way about my post and my blog.

      Regarding the boots song…. I’d say just enjoy it…… now when I think of it I have the images of that video in my mind as well! I was so surprised they would make a video like that in those days. Fun……


    1. Consider writing a post of your own. I wrote mine because a blogging friend of mine did and she wrote hers because of a post she had read. We all have such interesting hair stories!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the subject of hair—and I think it ‘s great you don’t dye it now!
    Have you seen the documentary “Good Hair”—i thought it was so interesting?
    You can see my hair on my blog—it’s a mass of curls and I’m giving up dying it too—although the grey just look like blonde right now!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know if I’ve seen the whole documentary. I remember seeing parts of it when they were producing it.

      I’ve never dyed my hair. In fact, I’ve never used anything on it except shampoo.

      It was fun to see what your hair looks like now that you’ve stopped dying it. It will be interesting to see a photo six months and a year from now!


  8. When I look at my hair in high school and college, I always think I would have been so much wiser to just leave it alone. It looks better now that I do absolutely nothing except get a good haircut , wash it and let it dry on its own. No more 3 hour Saturday afternoon sessions or sleeping on prickly pillows. I enjoyed your memoir w/ photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started leaving mine alone in college. I have come to the same conclusion as you did. I think I look a lot better with it staying in its natural state.


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