For most women, there are several rites of passage we all experience like wearing lipstick for the first time or being asked out on your first date. Wearing your hair in curlers overnight would definitely fall under this category.
The first time (and one of the only times) this happened, I was about 5 or 6 years old, my mother had scheduled some time with the local Sears photographer to have some nice snapshots taken of me. The night before my photo studio visit, my mom and grandmother got into a tizzy discussing frilly outfits, matching shoes, bows, etc., they went on and on until finally they got into the business of my hair. After deciding I was too young to have my beautiful silky strait virgin hair heat styled, my grandmother suggested curlers to get me picture perfect. I was not a happy camper.
That night, I showered and washed my hair as I regularly did and was met with a specific set of instructions laid out by my grandmother, them being to comb my hair out very well (no knots allowed), and to come to her with the set of curlers when my hair was damp, meaning not wet but not bone dry.
I tried to hide from her but to no avail between her and my mom, I was being watched like a hawk. So when my hair finally reached it’s desired level of dampness, my grandmother began to work her magic hands, taking small sections of my long hair and effortlessly rolling them around the hard plastic roller and pinning it to my scalp. She asked me if I wanted to try one and ended up mangling the section, leaving the ends frayed even after only being pinned down for a moment before she re-did the whole curl.
She finished up by securing all the pins in my hair leaving my head and scalp feeling tight. Then came the scarf that cover the curlers, so they wouldn’t come loose or unravel in my sleep, and what a horrible sleep it was. You basically cannot sleep unless it was on top of your own face making it quite difficult to breathe and when you finally fell asleep, you find yourself waking up from trying to fit into your usual sleep position and being blocked by the plastic cylinders pinned to your head.
I honestly don’t remember much about that next day at the photo studio. I was so tired from the un-restful sleep caused by those infernal curlers. But if you look at those portraits now, you’d never guess because my hair had fallen flat before the photographer could capture my curls in all their glory.