Tricia Solo sports a volcanic eruption of hair at Metropol. (Pittsburgh Press photo by Melissa Farlow) Cornell High students David Quarles (left) and Ron Cononge were 80s trendsetters. (Pittsburgh Press photo by Andy Starnes) Enormous padded shoulders were hip. (Post-Gazette photo by Mark Murphy) Odd two-toned mullets got these guys fired from an Allentown, PA, restaurant. (Photo by Allentown Call, via AP) A Philip Pelusi style in Pittsburgh. (Post-Gazette photo by Joyce Mendelsohn) Carol Sinkler gets a hair weave in McKeesport in 1988. (Pittsburgh Press photo by Annie Lennox) This was known as an evening style. (Post-Gazette photo by Mark Murphy)

1985: Our ’80s hair and other painful memories

Those of us who came of age in the 1980s sacrificed greatly as we waged a costly war on prudent judgment. The wounds remain. We dig deep into our clothes closets and tearfully gaze upon our well-worn parachute pants and “Members Only” jackets. Flashbacks of Urkel haunt us. At night we awaken in terror, screaming, “Where’s the beef?”

When that happens, we repeat our battle cry, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Why have you deserted us, Rick Astley and Duran Duran?

Hair was the weapon we used with most tragic results. Proof is found in the PG files, in a folder labeled, “Hairstyles, 1980s.” Our arsenal included big hair, punk hair, weaves, asymmetrical wedges, big bangs and perms. We employed Aqua Net to forge hair into shapes resembling great natural disasters. Volcanic eruptions and catastrophic hurricanes come to mind.

Sadly, our enthusiasm led us to employ tools of such inhumanity that we now hang our heads in shame. Scientists continue to study the long-term psychological damage caused by a decade of exposure to the mullet. International treaties now bar its use.

We propped our well-coiffed heads on enormous padded shoulders and walked like Egyptians into the pop culture fray.

After humiliating setbacks, such as Toni Basil’s “Mickey” video and countless Journey ballads, all of which were insipid even by ’80s standards, we simply bought more hairspray and followed in the footsteps of Howard Jones, who proved to us that gravity didn’t matter. Then all of his hair fell out.

We were cool until Nirvana came along. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” rendered us irrelevant. Poison and Cinderella were banished to the county fair circuit. Our hip hair became ridiculous. Within a few years it turned gray.

Perhaps we never had a chance. We ’80s warriors bore the burden of having our ranks spoiled by the likes of Mr. T and Papa Smurf and young Madonna.

But weep not for us of the Pet Shop Boys generation.  It could have been worse. At least we didn’t come of age in the 1970s.

(Top photo: Students at the Fashion Institute of Pittsburgh show off their new wave style. Pittsburgh Press photo by Bill Wade)


— Steve Mellon

  1. mobrkfst reblogged this from pgdigs
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    Our ’80s hair and other painful memories Those of us who came of age in the 1980s sacrificed greatly as we waged a...
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    I was with him right until the, “ It could have been worse. At least we didn’t come of age in the 1970s”, comment. Truth...
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    But I seriously love the ‘evening style’ cut…
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