I've never been great at styling my hair, and nowhere is this more evident than in old photos of myself, a stark reminder of how dorky I was back in the '90s; but looking back at these pictures, it's hard not to think that I could outdo myself now that I've got a few more years of beauty experience under my belt. So I decided to recreate my '90s childhood hairstyles, to give them a modern update and to prove to myself that I was secretly a stylish kid despite my lack of butterfly clips.
I had five or so go-to hairstyles that I relied on when I was a kid, which was probably because I was always impatient and hated sitting around for my hair to be done. Plus, my hair was always so long that brushing it out was painful. I never took good care of it, never brushed it unless the hairdresser threatened to chop it off, and never wanted to do anything complicated. These days, I brush or comb my hair at least every other day, which is much better than never, especially since my hair is longer now than ever before. I also take the time to condition my hair and am a bit more patient when it comes to styling it. I figured all of these factors would be in my favor as I recreated five of my childhood hairstyles, and there was always the chance I would find a new go-to hairdo. So here's how it went:
When I stumbled upon this picture, I knew I would have to recreate it because I look adorable, and that doll is hilarious and basically life-size. (I also wonder what happened to that jumper because I would be stoked to have that fabric turned into a skirt.) I had more hair than the average baby but definitely less than I have now (because I was, you know, a baby), so I modified that tuft of hair into... a top-knot! A top-knot is my go-to hairstyle anyway, so it took all of a minute to twirl my hair around, plop onto my head, and tie it off. Baby Maxine knew what looked good, let me tell you.
The Half-Up, Half-Down
Whenever I had a "nice" event to attend, my mom would put my hair into a half-up ponytail, but it's not a look I have ever really tried since gaining the autonomy to do my own hair — even though it's now a trendy look.
This time, instead of trying exactly what my mom would do, in part because I don't really remember exactly what it was she did and because I'm a rebel, I went for the full-on Ariana Grande half-ponytail, which is a surprisingly simple look to achieve. You pull the top half of your hair into a tight, high ponytail, and do some light adjustments until it looks like a longer ponytail. Most of the looks I felt could be upgraded into something more mature, but this one made me feel like a kid again even if it was pretty cute.
Whoever let me hold that newborn baby made a terrible mistake, as did the person who thought my hair would stay in place with just a plastic headband. My hair has always been thick so a headband has never been the best way to secure it, and that holds especially true today because my hair is much longer.
All I did was create a straight middle part, pull my hair back, and pop on a headband. I loved that I looked like Blair Waldorf, but the style itself didn't last much longer than this picture. I also didn't have a newborn baby easily available, so I swapped in my pup who was equally unhappy to be held by me, which I really think adds a nice bit of realism to this recreation. So the headband is still an adorable look and still not the most practical, and I still shouldn't be allowed to hold babies or pups.
The One-Sided Up-Do
It was 1998. I joined the local soccer league because all of the cool kids belonged to the local soccer league. I hated the local soccer league because I hated running. I would play goalie just so I would have an excuse to run less. Upon further reflection, maybe part of the reason I hated running was because I had my hair in this weird one-sided up-do instead of a practical ponytail or a braid.
But let me tell you, that look totally works today, especially now that my hair is a good foot longer than it was back then. All this took was a couple of bobby pins and some hairspray to tame some of the fly-aways, and I was good to go (to a party, that is. I would never again wear this to play soccer... or play soccer at all, if we're being totally honest).
The Low Ponytail
I spent a month in Paris with my mom one summer, and all of the pictures, like this one of me in front of the Louvre, feature me with this tight, low ponytail that now makes me cringe. But at the time, I was convinced that this hairstyle was super hip, and often paired the look with long, dangling earrings because why not? I was definitely teased for this ponytail back in the day, but I look so happy in these photos and remember totally loving this look and feeling really sad when I had to change it to fit in at school.
When I took on this experiment, I became determined to give this look an update and make the low ponytail hip again, but this was probably the hardest of the five hairstyles to recreate without still looking totally dorky. But after much trial and error, I think I've done it. There was a lot of combing and hairspray involved to keep the stray and baby hairs from standing up, but I eventually wrangled my hair into place. The key is keeping a middle part so that there's still some volume and interest, even while the rest of your hair is plastered to your head. It definitely had a cool, athletic vibe that I wasn't able to achieve when I was 12. So suck on that, kids who made fun of me for my low ponytail in eighth grade.
Images: Maxine Builder