Did Boomer Girls Choose Their Hair Length?

The prime boomer years of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s saw drastic changes in fashion, and with it, hair styles and length. Mister Boomer has previously talked about how long hair for boys and men grabbed the attention of baby boomers (Boomers Watched the Long Hair Trend Grow), but what was happening with girls and women?

When we look at TV programs of the the early days of the era, adult women wore a “moderate” style and length, often curled, while the young girls in the shows generally had shoulder length or longer hair. Take a look at Barbara Billingsley as June Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver (1957-63), or Jane Wyatt as Margaret Anderson in Father Knows Best (1954-60). In the movies of the early 1960s, however, a mix of hair lengths for women appeared on screen. Audrey Hepburn wore a popular bob style in movies throughout the 1950s and into the ’60s, while Marilyn Monroe sported the more natural look that made inroads with women after the War, and Brigitte Bardot epitomized the longer style associated with sex kittens of the era. Meanwhile, the beehive hairdo burst on the scene in 1960, and many music icons of the time adopted the style, including The Ronettes, Aretha Franklin, and Priscilla Presley, to name a few. Then, as now, popular culture — TV, movies and music icons — highly influenced the styles girls wanted to wear.

As with boys and men, the 1960s brought a revolution of personal expression. Hair lengths were marked at the extremes by the long hair of the Hippies to the short, even what some termed boyish-length hair like supermodel Twiggy’s pixie cut that she wore in her famous photo shoots. Both styles were rebellious in the eyes of boomer parents, yet girls persisted in experimenting with different styles and lengths.

Throughout the boomer years, for both boys and girls, the notion of hair style as protest was widely prevalent. In the 1950s, Black women associated with civil rights activism began to wear their hair unstraightened as a protest against the established hair styles of the previous era. By the 1960s, that trend continued among those involved in Vietnam War protests, the Feminist movement, and the Black Is Beautiful movement. The result was the style known as the Natural or the Afro, a spherical shape sported by the likes of women as different as Angela Davis, Pam Grier and Diana Ross.

To recap and very generally speaking, boomer girls wore their hair the way their mothers wanted them to in the 1950s and early ’60s. By the time they were rebelling teenagers, they may have wanted to experiment with styles they saw on TV and in movies, but that would have to wait. For many boomer girls, control over their own hair style would not be theirs until their parents put up their hands in surrender once their rebellious teen got to high school. (What’s the matter with kids these days?)

When the 1970s arrived, women had a wide choice of hair styles and lengths they could adopt, based on their own personalities. However, once boomer girls began their working careers, they found their hair styles were not so much limited by their mother or society as the companies for which they would work; the business world still had a hold on what it deemed acceptable. It is only now, decades later, that states have enacted legislation to protect a woman’s right to wear her hair in the manner that she chooses, and that is not federal policy.

How about it, boomer ladies? Do you have fond memories of early hairsyles, or were they traumatic experiences?

Boomers Watched the Apocalypse on Screen

When COVID-19 first began its spread across the United States, very quickly people created lists of pandemic movies that were either eerily similar to our situation or a good distraction to the reality outside our doors. Mister Boomer checked out a bunch of them, and found that the vast majority completely ignored films from the boomer era. Most started their lists with films released in the 1990s and later, and almost all included the movie, Pandemic (2016). We’re talking about our generation here, so those lists aren’t of much use in these parts.

When Mister B put on his thinking cap and let his fingers do the walking through the Internet, what he did discover was there were very few films made during the boomer era of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s that pertained to bacterial and virus-related epidemics. There was the occasional zombie infection and all, but take a look:

• 1950s sci-fi films were often metaphors about the perils of nuclear war. All the giant monster films begin with radiation turning smaller creatures into gargantuan size. Others featured alien invasions of Earth, either the bad aliens out for their own gain (to gather slaves, food, people as food, our water, etc.) or the good aliens coming to warn us against using atomic weapons.
• The 1960s went far-out there imagining all sorts of ways for mankind to be on the brink of extinction. Many of these films were foreign-made and most were unmemorable. One has to wonder if the era of experimental drug use influenced the writing of films.
• The 1970s films were a bit more interesting. The one that Mister Boomer recalls and would like to recommend is The Andromeda Strain (1971).

First the Book, then the Movie
Michael Crichton published The Andromeda Strain in 1969. It was the first of his novels published under his own name. Boomers will recall he went on to pen the Jurassic Park series of books and films, among others. The Andromeda Strain was brought to the silver screen in 1971.

Just over a decade after the first men were launched into space, Crichton envisioned a time when the U.S. military would launch a satellite into space for the express purpose of discovering and gathering microorganisms. Their intentions were to seek out microorganisms that could be made into biological weapons.

As luck would have it, a meteor containing such a microorganism crashes into the satellite, causing it to fall to Earth in a small desert town in Arizona. The town’s population is wiped out within minutes. This organism clots human blood almost instantly.

Naturally, the military gets involved and tries to cover up the entire project while scientists discover the true intent of the military satellite and rush to identify, contain, and neutralize the virus. Suspense and drama ensue.

In the end, despite heroic means, the organism can’t be controlled by human science and escapes its containment facility to a level in the Earth’s atmosphere that is more an environment to its liking, leaving the question of, if it is still out there, waiting for the moment when it will return to devastate life on the planet.

It’s a suspenseful movie that mixed science and fiction in a way that made people wonder if it could actually happen. Now that we face an actual Earth-bound foe that is wreaking havoc around the globe, maybe it’s time for us to once again view those monster, disaster and apocalyptic movies of the boomer era to digest the overarching moral that ties these stories together: namely, it’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature, in any part of the Universe.

How about it, boomers? Did you read The Andromeda Strain or see the movie when it was released?