The Painful Ponytails Of An 80s Upbringing

Shani Silver
2 min readNov 5, 2022

And other horrors.

My childhood, in a physical feeling, is the acute temple-area strain of my hair being pulled back into a ponytail tight enough to qualify as a face lift. Until I was about ten, my mother did my hair every morning in the one style I would tolerate. However, if I saw so much as one bump of misshapen or out-of-place hair on my crown disrupting the ponytail’s smoothness, I was undone. My mother’s solution to this was to simply pull tighter and tighter because heaven knows there’s no gentle way to achieve smoothness, that would be silly.

For years we did this morning dance, bringing each torture session to a close with the plunking of a giant bow atop the ponytail. What Southern girl among us didn’t have her collection clipped to a ribbon and displayed like merit badges somewhere in the bathroom? The artistry of crafty 1980s women in spare bedrooms knew no limits when it came to grosgrain ribbon, metal snapping clips, and hot glue. Sometimes puffy paint was involved and things really got interesting.

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