by Ferida Wolff
Does anyone outside of Hollywood remember Veronica Lake (1922-1970)?* She was an actress (females weren’t classified as actors back then) who made most of her films in the 1940s, which was just a tad, though not by much, before my movie-viewing time. She influenced a whole generation of women. Her long, wavy blond hair was draped over her right eye in what was called the peek-a-boo style that sparked many female copycats and lots of male admirers; she was a pin-up girl for many a soldier during World War II.
The Glass Key is a 1942 film noir, directed by Stuart Heisler and based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. The story had previously been adapted for film in 1935. Wikipedia
I never had wavy hair growing up. I had pencil straight bangs and braids. My mother (maybe she was influenced by Veronica Lake) would give me home permanents that lasted until the first rain. Then my hair reverted to its natural, stick-straightness. Of course, I was never in style. Curly hair was in back then so it was obvious that I was out.
Skip ahead a couple of decades, well, three to be exact, when my brown hair started to turn gray and lo and behold – waves. That was fine. A little pizzazz added to the pulled-back hippie hairdo I tended toward. It was a nice change.
Over the next few years I tended toward shorter cuts I thought more flattering and they were certainly easier to maintain. Then, for some reason, my mostly gray hair began trying its darnedest to imitate Veronica Lake’s style. My bangs developed a deep wave and the ends flipped up in a way that almost begged to me to let them grow. At first I ignored that request because it meant I would have to change my style but my bangs persisted, becoming so unmanageable I feared they would poke someone in the eye. I gave finally in and let my hair grow.
I still am not blond and I certainly don’t aspire to pin-up status but no one told that to my hair. If left uncombed, it will wiggle its way sensually down my back, its deep waves intertwining the gray with what is left of the brown. I don’t wear it loose, however; I don’t relish the thought of being a Veronica Fake. I am back to barretting it at my neck most days and twisting it up for fancier occasions. Fortunately, my husband likes it that way so I am actually getting compliments.
Who would have thought that hair could be so opinionated? It used to be reasonable, letting me do pretty much what I wanted with it. But then I guess we change in many ways as we age. Ideas we held in our twenties shift with experience and perspective. Foods we loved as teens often become indigestible later on (gluten sensitivity and lactose intolerance have become watchwords for a more mature generation). If our brains and stomachs can have opinions, why not our hair?
*Lake was one of the models for the animated character of Jessica Rabbit in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, especially for her hairstyle. In the 1997 film L.A. Confidential (based on James Ellroy's 1990 novel), Kim Basinger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a prostitute who is a Veronica Lake look-alike, and who is complimented by a police officer who tells her, "You look better than Veronica Lake".
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