Sunday, August 16, 2009

The 80s

Glitter, metal and mousse

IMG_0349Image by Mikey White via Flickr

Was there ever a decade when hair conspired so mightily with fashion to create such an indelible look?

We’re talking big hair as in mall hair. Nothing subtle about the look, though conservative Reaganomics in this decade reigned supreme. As the incoming president talked about making government smaller, we made our hair, well, larger.

Yes, skinny ties were in (again), but everything else was big –– as in Tom Hanks BIG (the movie). Or world events, via the new Internet. Chernobyl came at us disastrously fast and huge. The space shuttle Challenger disintegrated before our eyes.

All the while, we 9-to-5 girls kept our heads high (kind of like our hair), strutting our stuff in pantsuits shaped by spongy shoulder pads. Evenings, headed out, we pumped up the volume even more, channeling our inner material girl, hair crimped and even pinned right of center.

Unisex salons replaced wash-and-set beauty parlors as skinny young hipsters went[CC1] androgynous. Straight (hair, that is) was out. Punk was in: buzzed sides with bleached or dyed gel-spiked tops took the prize for outré.

Mothers sighed. Stylists moaned then competed to shock. But our concerns ambled elsewhere. Abroad, the Cold War was ending, the Berlin Wall coming down. On the other side of the world, students shouted for revolution in Tiananmen Square.

It seemed silly to worry about parachute pants or ripped sweatshirts worn off the shoulder a la Flash dance. So what if we couldn’t solve Rubik’s Cube –– the stock market was barely crawling out of its crash.

Some comfort came from knowing we could count on Boss Springsteen, try out the New Coke or find convenient nutrition with salad-in-a-bag. The parents of the coming Generation Xers were falling in love with E.T., Hamburger Helper,

The Helping Hand in a Hamburger Helper commercialImage via Wikipedia

hair bands, leg warmers, Healthy Choice frozen dinners and a rascally new family called the Simpsons.

Cabbage Patch dolls had started making their rounds, along with the Cabbage Soup diet. We’re betting you bought your first answering machine or CD and learned to use a fax machine back then.

If hair was bigger, food was faster. Taco Bell, The Olive Garden and Pizza Hut threw their edible hats into the circle of yum. But until we yearned to entertain in style, setting cloth napkins and crystal wine glasses next to our real silver and best china plates. Between experiment and tried-and-true, we chose the former: baked brie from Ladies’ Home Journal, penne a la vodka (McCall’s). And by now dinner conversation was beginning to turn to an esoteric company that sounded like some kind of ingenious new fiber: Microsoft.

BrieImage by ex.libris via Flickr

Let’s get stuck in the eighties for a while, shall we?

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