On Language columnist William Safire traced the origin of the term “bad hair day” to an allegedly fabricated quote in Us Magazine attributed to comedian Gary Shandling in January 1991. “They said I told them I was having a bad hair day,” Shandling told a Seattle paper. “They didn’t even talk to me!”
After that, the mousse was out of the can. The phrase was uttered by every teenager with frizzies or split ends from San Diego to Nova Scotia. I remember it appeared on baseball hats, which were presumably worn to cover the aforementioned bad hair. I also remember surprisingly impassioned conversations conducted over Zimas at parties in Brooklyn about how one’s appearance could, in fact, have a tremendous impact on one’s quotidian happiness. And then we’d go fix our hair and then dance to Spin Doctors.
Soon, of course, the usage of the term was broadened, as Safire points out,Â to express “a sense of frustration at a time when one seems to lose control of the ordinarily manageable details of life.” In that sense, “bad hair day” shares a definition with “having children.” And having children affords you very little time to take care of your hair. Hmmm…
What I wouldn’t give for a literal bad hair day. Let me rephrase: What I wouldn’t give for a bad hair day to be this Formerly’s biggest beauty issue**. I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been contending with something much more onerous:
The bad face day.
There is no headband or gel or baseball hat for a bad face day. Sure, there are creams and serums that over time might make a smidge of a difference. There’s sunscreen, too much, too late. And there are expensive poisons doctors might inject here and there like the guy at the automotive body shop might bang out dings and dents, if you have the money and the inclination.
But on any given morning, if you wake up with creases and craters and crop circles for pores and dark chocolate croissants under your eyes and blemishes not next to but on your wrinkles, and broken capillaries–oh yes and let us not forget, whiskers, the man kind–you’ve got no choice but to stare yourself down, go through your eblutions, and then start spackling on the concealer if you have time and vanity enough to do so. Which of course I do.
The good news is, after about 45 minutes of being vertical, many of the symptoms of a bad face day (puffiness, indentations on your cheeks from the chandelier earrings you fell asleep in, bleary eyes) subside on their own. Othes be painted over (The best thing in the universe? Estee Lauder Double Wear Light Foundation.) Still others can be yanked out with tweezers or, yes, shaved if things get really out of hand.*** And then, of course, there are ginormous Mary Kate sunglasses that hide half your face.
Still, I’m not loving the way things are trending.
Maybe bad face days are why everyone thinks old folks are so damned boring. They get thrill enough just by waking up in the morning and not knowing what new shocker awaits in the mirror. They can’t handle one more little surprise so they eat their bran twigs, watch the same channel, then shuffle off to their same old routine while their fresh-faced offspring roll their eyes.
Any solutions, aside from the unfortunate obvious? Unless something changes, I’ve ruled out anything involving ski masks, plastic surgeons, fasting or high colonics. Please comment below.
**Please note, bad hair days have become the norm, and as such are almost unworthy of comment. Nonetheless, hair–specifically, the loss thereof–will be the subject of a future post. Stay tuned.
***If you are edging toward a full beard and you are a Formerly, you might have polycystic ovarian syndrome, and should get your hormones checked. Either that, or you’re of Mediterranean descent and should get laser hair removal. Or both.
April 30, 2009 at 7:54 am
When you stop caring, your face muscles are not as tense, and you look better. Or at least that what you assume since you’ve stopped looking in the mirror.
April 30, 2009 at 11:40 am
Cover all mirrors in your house and tell guests and family that your great aunt once removed from Romania died and you want to honor her by following the Jewish tradition of covering your mirrors while in mourning. Good?
May 2, 2009 at 10:30 pm
I try not to look in the mirror until I’ve showered and had coffee–too frightening otherwise!