My Reigning Days as Miss Midwest Afro Queen

When talking about a girl’s body image, you have to go back. Waaaaaay back. All the way to the early years. Because a child will remember if people noticed her and whether they said nice things or a plethora of backhanded compliments. You know the ones.

Oh she’s as skinny as a beanpole!”


She eats just like a bird!”


Thankfully what I remember hearing is comments about my hair. I had long strawberry blonde hair and strangers would often comment to me or my mother how beautiful it was. They also commented occasionally on my freckles, which when you’re 6 are adorable. I can’t say the same at 28 because now I only have them on my arms and they’re called moles.

*le sigh*

Back to my hair. On nights before big school days, my mom would often braid my hair in two pigtails. Then one or both of my older brothers would grab hold of the braids, making motorcycle noises as they “drove” me screaming around the house.

The next morning, my mother would help me get dressed in some sort of skort or jumper, as that is all my closet consisted of. Then she would take out the braids and begin brushing my hair.

Then she would brush even more…

and brush just a little bit more…

until my hair was the equivalent of one of those static electricity balls you see at science fairs.

And that is why I held the title of Miss Midwest Afro Queen, circa 1991.

Exhibit A:

Afro Hair 1Exhibit B:

Afro Hair 2Exhibit C:

Afro Hair 3Exhibit Holy Friggin D:

Afro Hair 4Thank god there was no such thing as selfies then! My hair wouldn’t even fit in the shot!

 Afro Hair - close upI used Xpro II to make me look tan.
What do you think?

 Tell me your thoughts! What comments did you hear growing up?
What fashion choices make you happy instagram wasn’t around then?

Should my mother be allowed to touch anyone else’s hair?

25 responses

  1. I heard from adults: “Oh, what beautiful curly hair!” From kids it was more like “frizzy head” or something like that. LOL

    1. Yah, along with my hair color, I also got called out on my numerous cowlicks with always made for crazy looking bangs.

  2. Oh, I can identify! My mom was a beautician, and at the beginning of each grade school year, the night before they took class pictures, my mom washed my hair, set it in rollers, and I slept in them. The next day, she combed it out and I got my picture taken with a bouffant hairdo!! Can you say Dippity-Do??!! It doesn’t compete with your Afro Queen, though. 😉

    1. My mom really liked hairspray too. She would curl my hair for piano recitals and even curl my bangs! How horrifying!

  3. My mom would do that too, only in a bunch of braids, I was WAY frizzy.

    1. Yikes! Can you imagine us in the same room together? We could provide electricity for a small country!

  4. Oh Jess, this is hilarious! What precious pictures. I too grew up with hair issues. Curly and wavy while my sister’s hair was straight and smooth. Of course, I wanted hers and she got a perm to have it look like mine. There is something called, “duby-duby” (my cousins may have created it) that was my saving grace, growing up. Before going to bed, you wrap your curly hair to one side around your head, securing it flat with tons of bobby pins, then you put a bandana on tightly over your head. You sleep all night like this and wake up in the morning with flat straight hair (and a massive headache!). It really works! LOL.

    1. I’m amazed that hasn’t caught on, Maria! And yes, I was a little like your sister and got my hair permed. I still regret that because every now and then I still get one wonky curly hair growing out of my head!

  5. I’m a little older, grew up in the ’50s, and curly hair was in (a leftover from Shirley Temple, I think). Of course, mine was straight, but my mother assured me that if I ate my bread crusts, they would make it curly.

    1. My grandma told me bread crusts put hair on your chest! I never trusted her advice again!

  6. I used to put Audrey’s hair up in pigtails and am kinda bummed I never thought of the motorcycle thing back then…

    1. You were a mean brother, weren’t you?

  7. Love it (and the fashion sense too!). But hey, at least you had GIRL hair. As opposed to the boy cut so popular on girls in the early 1970s. More than once, my parents were asked my gender…because apparently, it wasn’t clear from my hairdo and my clothing. And yeah, I’ll have to dig for the photos! 🙂

    1. I was also the queen of culottes! LOL

  8. O M friggin G! You were so cute! I am definitely glad instagram didn’t exist when I was a kid. I made some questionable wardrobe choices. I also wore an orthodontics headgear and people asked me what radio stations I got.

    1. Kids are so mean. I was the first to get braces in my class and then I had a GIANT retainer in for awhile too that I of course picked neon colors for. So anytime I opened my mouth, you couldn’t miss it. Ugh!

  9. Think the 80’s carried over into the beginning of the 90’s for you=) But I can’t say much. There are pictures of me with shoulder pads somewhere. Maybe they’re lost now…hopefully they’re lost now=)

    1. It’s truly shocking to learn I WASN’T a child model, isn’t it?

      My mom had clothes she sewed shoulder pads into!

  10. So you looked like you stuck your finger in an electrical socket. So what? Big hair was in. Oh wait. That was the eighties. You weren’t born yet. lol. The point is, you were adorable! What mother wouldn’t love you? What stations did you pick up by the way? Sorry. I just couldn’t help it. 🙂

    1. I was born in the 80s as a matter of fact, and apparently did not want to leave them behind.

  11. Well I am in my early 50s and my hair always has been the frizzy, “stand-out-from-your-head-a foot” hair, still is and I have never had to work at it. The first four and a half decades of extra curly, extra fine, extra dry fly away hair was enough for me. I always wanted long hair down to my waist and I finally have it, but it is so poofy that I could pull off a Cousin Itt imitation with no additional hair added. Which is why I keep it twisted on top of my head in a bun 24/7 now.

    I think your hair looks adorable and is not all THAT poofy… comparatively! 😉

    1. I LOVE Halloween and think you should get a whole group of people together and dress as the cast of the Addams Family. That would be spooktacular. And I volunteer to be Wednesday. Now…where did I set my headless doll?

      1. Well thanks to our three elder brothers taking our doll heads when they couldn’t find their baseballs… I think I can cover you on the headless doll! Thanks to my shrinking with age an stooping form the bad back I am almost the same danged height as Itt now too *disgusted sigh* We can use my 15 y.o nephew (6’2″) for Lurch unless you have someone taller at hand?

  12. What a cute little girl and what an effort it must have been for your mom.

    1. The same effect would have happened by my brothers rubbing a balloon on my head.

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