Image Influence: A History of Celebrity Inspired Hair Horrors

By Tracie Banister

Have you ever walked into a salon, clutching a photo of some gorgeous, trend-setting celebrity, handed it to your stylist and said, "Make my hair look like that?" I'm sorry to say that I have, on numerous occasions, and the end result was always the same . . . DISASTER!

It all started back in the '80s. Big hair was in, but no matter how many hot rollers and cans of ozone layer-destroying hairspray I employed, I could not achieve the desired volume with my stick-straight hair. My dreams of looking like Constance Weldon Semple Carlyle were dashed. For those of you who did not watch the deliciously campy primetime soap Flamingo Road, Constance was the show's resident diva who had a propensity for wearing fabulous negligees and slapping people. As played by '80s icon Morgan Fairchild, Constance was all that was glamorous and stylish in my young, impressionable mind, and I would not rest until my locks looked like hers (I was already blonde, so I was halfway there!). I took my hairstyling woes, and a picture of Ms. Fairchild, ripped from the pages of a magazine, to my local salon, and a perm was suggested. I envisioned my hair expanding to new heights, with glorious, sexy waves cascading to my shoulders. Instead, after spending 4+ hours in the chair, I looked like I'd stuck my finger in a light socket! I spent months trying to tame that perm (I think I bought every conditioner, straightener, and smoothing oil treatment the beauty supply store had to offer), but nothing worked, and I was left with nothing but crazy-looking frizz for most of my freshman year of high school. Decades later, and I still twitch involuntarily every time the smell of a perm assails my nostrils. Post-Traumatic Hair Horrors Syndrome, it's not just an urban legend, people.

So, I gave up on ever having curly, or even slightly wavy, tresses. Cut to the '90s, when I became enamored of a little show called Lois & Clark. I didn't just love that program because Dean Cain was the hottest Clark Kent to ever don a pair of dorky glasses, but because I was obsessed with Teri Hatcher's look as Lois Lane. Lois had this whole retro '40s vibe going on with her tailored pantsuits and wide-collared dresses, and I adored her sleek, mid-neck-length bob. I just knew that with my straight hair I could pull off that style with aplomb! So, off to the salon I went, and I had a good six inches of my hair chopped off - SIX INCHES! I didn't care, thinking that it would be worth the sacrifice if my makeover resulted in me looking like Teri Hatcher's younger, fair-haired sister. What I failed to realize was that Teri and I do not have the same shape face. Hers is long and narrow with nice, high cheekbones, which looked great when it was framed by a bob. Mine is oval and full-cheeked and when it's framed by a bob, well let's just say it ain't pretty (moon pie would probably be an apt description). And to make matters worse, my hair, which had always been so flat and straight when it was long, suddenly became unmanageably poofy when it was above my shoulders. I looked more like Buster Brown than I did Teri Hatcher. It took well over a year to grow out that unflattering bob!

At this point, you would think that I would have learned my lesson about trying to copy the hairstyles of actresses, right? Wrong.The first time I saw that cute, layered cut sported by Rachel on Friends, my eyes lit up like a child's on Christmas morning. This was the one! The sassy, easy-to-care-for hairstyle that would suit me perfectly and make me the envy of women everywhere. Jennifer Aniston had a face shape similar to mine, didn't she? She, also, had a team of hairdressers who spent countless hours blowdrying and styling that famous 'do of hers so that it looked effortlesslytousled. I didn't have that kind of time, patience, or skill, and as a result, my hair just looked like a chopped-up wreck. It took forever to grow those layers out, and in the midst of that process, I had to be maid of honor in a friend's wedding. Needless to say, I cringe every time I see those pictures, and layers is now a dirty word in my household. 

After three failed attempts at hair mimicry, I finally gave up, and I'm proud to report that I haven't sought to emulate any celebrity styles in the last 15 years. The new millennium has actually been good to me as far as hair trends go. Straight hair is now all the rage, with women paying $500+ for Keratin treatments to get their tresses to look as smooth as mine do naturally, and the ombre hair color fad means not having to get my blonde highlights touched up very often! I've got a signature look that doesn't require too much maintenance, and I'm happy with it, although I have been covetously eying the coppery color of Amy Adams hair for a while. Wonder what I'd look like as a redhead?
I'd love to hear your celebrity-inspired hair horror stories, so leave a comment below and we can share each other's pain.

An avid reader and writer, Tracie Banister has been scribbling stories since she was a child, most of them featuring feisty heroines with complicated love lives like her favorite fictional protagonist Scarlett O'Hara. Her Hollywood-themed Chick Lit novel, Blame It on the Fame, was released in January, 2012. She blogs about books and other fun stuff at and her Twitter handle is @traciebanister.