My Mom Helped Me Re-create Her 1964 Sweet 16 Look

What better way to bond with my mother than letting her jab bobby pins into my head?
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Tiye
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What better way to bond with my mother than letting her jab bobby pins into my head?

My mother has been an unconventional beauty inspiration to me because, growing up, I rarely ever saw her use beauty products at all. She always claimed that makeup made her look "like a prostitute." 

My mother doesn’t even use hair conditioner (!!!) and her 65-year-old naturally jet-black hair has never been dyed once in her life. She has never used face products until recently when I got her hooked on a few natural goodies like Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser and Egyptian Magic.

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Usually, when I come across pictures of my mother, she is the epitome of a hippie, with long shaggy hair flowing down to her bottom, not a drop of makeup, and Gloria Steinem glasses firmly in place.

Her minimalistic take on beauty is a much bigger influence on me now, having come out the other side of regrettable experiments in sparkly eyeshadow. I’ve settled on several compromises: I still use hair conditioner but always air dry, and I still wear makeup but keep to a minimal no-makeup look most days.

Me and mom, today.

Me and mom, today.

I had spent my teenage years playing with pancake makeup and frying my hair with various colors and treatments, but I never really understood why my mom never put up a fight or said anything about it. I started to put two and two together when I recently came across a scrap book from her 16th birthday party.

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In 1964, dressed all in pink, my mom had her sweet 16 in her hometown in New Jersey. This would be three years before she traveled abroad, got a shag haircut, and returned to the states at the dawn of the flower child revolution.

My mother in pink with her mother in blue.

My mother in pink with her mother in blue.

It turned out that, like me, my mom also spent much of her teenage years experimenting with makeup and hair. As an ode to my mom’s hidden teenage years spent playing dress up, I decided to recreate her Sally Draper-meets-Snooki look.

My starting point.

My starting point.

 To recreate my mother’s sweet 16 big hairdo, I pulled my hair into a tight ponytail. The idea was to separate small sections of hair and tease them before rolling the sections towards my crown and securing them with a bobby pin.

I quickly realized that while I may be an expert at a sock bun, I needed my mom's help to perfect this look. 

Nothing like having pins jammed into your head to make you remember how much you love your mom.

Nothing like having pins jammed into your head to make you remember how much you love your mom.

Sitting between my mom's legs while she jabbed bobby pins painfully into my skull really took me back to my earliest beauty experiences, having my mom do my hair for school and ballet recitals.

Here is the finished product of her masterful work. Pin the tendrils so that the bun is somewhat even, but not uniformed and perfect.

Here is the finished product of her masterful work. Pin the tendrils so that the bun is somewhat even, but not uniformed and perfect.

For my makeup, I referenced her teenage passport photo. As a child, my mom was constantly told by strangers that she was like a little Judy Garland but I can’t help but think my teenage mom was the spitting image of her daughter, Liza Minnelli.

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To recreate this look, I used Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner to rim my upper lid and then under my eyes, bringing the lines to a point facing downward giving me an exaggerated puppy-eye look. I then applied fake eyelashes.

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I was far less glamorous than my mom was as a sixteen year old girl. I'm pretty sure I wore a bad halter top to my sixteenth birthday party so I'm relieved I can't find the photo. 

Sad to say, my mom no longer owns a pair of white cat eye glasses.

Sad to say, my mom no longer owns a pair of white cat eye glasses.

I love that hair and makeup can be used to tap into different sides of our personalities. Seeing two sides of my mother's beauty past--the glamour girl and the hippy--I identify with both versions of this woman, and I feel most myself nestled right in between.