If our hair is our crowning glory, then a big fluffy hair bow is the jewel in the crown of all little girls in the South. Boiled down to the bare bones truth, a hair bow represents how much love a mama has for her precious darlin’ lamb. Matching every outfit, with special editions for each holiday, a poufy bow adds an extra touch of cuteness to an already adorable child. Even if the little belle loves to play sports, the bow will always be there, coordinating with the uniform and often monogramed with the team logo.
I thought little girls everywhere wore hair bows, but a friend new to our area of Alabama, who has never lived in the South, was both amazed and in somewhat of a panic when she asked, “Where do I find these hair bows? My daughter suddenly has to have some to fit in with the other girls in Miss Penelope’s Preschool Ponderosa.”
Having only boys, I had no idea what to tell her about finding big bodacious bows. They seemed like such a natural piece of the puzzle, I always assumed the accessory came with the pink swaddled baby the day she was brought home from the hospital.
My own childhood hair bows somehow automatically showed up on my head and I never thought about how they got there. Back in the days when I didn’t have enough hair to hold a clip, and you couldn’t . . .
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. . . buy Velcro (at least not in Florala), Mama resorted to Scotch Tape to hold the mandatory accessory neatly in place, which taught me lesson #24 in the Southern Belle play-book, "it's better to look good than to feel good."
I asked around, and one friend told me when her daughter was in first grade, she had over fifty different bows, with 12 of those having a specific Christmas theme. Looking into space and tapping on her fingers, she recited, "There was the reindeer bow, the snowman bow, the wise men bow and of course, her favorite, the angel bow, which had little silver bells sewn in."
One thing all my girlfriends agree on, is that if you have a daughter who refuses to wear a hair bow when she's a tot, then you had better lock her up now, because those are the babes who grow up to be wild women. I remember reading somewhere that scientists at The University of South Alabama found a direct correlation between girls who reject childhood hair bows and those who grow up to dance on tables at the Flora-Bama.
After little girls out-grow the regular, daily hair bows, they move into the teenage years where cheerleaders and the all-American majorettes sport the team colored hair accessories with their names monogramed on the edges. "Olivia", "Alivia," and "Oliveeah" all flip and march across the field with their beautiful bows bouncing and make their mama's hearts swell with pride.
But the real reason we place beautiful bows on the heads of our precious girls is to prepare them for the ultimate crowning glory . . . tiaras. If your head is accustomed to holding a bow, then you instinctively know how to rock a row of rhinestones.
Later, we advance to pretty hats, which aren't as bouncy as bows nor sparkly as tiaras, but still great fun to wear. Popping on a pretty hat in the South is not only stylish, but has the added benefit of taming the gosh-awful humidity-induced frizz which is our one and only curse for living in a place otherwise considered paradise (if you don't count the mosquitoes and hurricanes).
I can only hope and pray my boys will someday marry young ladies who were blessed to have worn big, fat, fluffy hair bows as little girls. But if these girls tell me they didn't like wearing bows . . . well, let's just say we won't be dining at the Flora-Bama any time soon.
*This story can be found in the book, "The Majorettes are Back in Town and other things to love about the South."