Curls On Film: The Most Epic Perms In Movie History

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Ah, the perm. A remnant of ’70s and ’80s “fashion” that we can be glad to have left behind. But have we really let go of the perm? With Bradley Cooper sporting an impressive man-perm in American Hustle recently, a nostalgia has been sparked for the admittedly stupid, but strangely endearing, hairstyle.

In the ’80s, when it came to perms the motto was “bigger is better” and everyone from the obvious Dolly Partons and Chers of the world to the more innocuous Shannen Dohertys and Julia Robertses was sporting artificial curls. Anyone who was anyone tried out a perm at one time or another. Even those with naturally curly or wavy hair would perm it up for a more manicured curl — the most obvious giveaway being the vertiginousness of their new, curated curls. The brave would then tease on top of it (hello, Kelly LeBrock!). Hell, if you were a little girl at the time (as this author was), you probably made your mom braid your hair into lots of tiny little braids before bed, so that in the morning, you could take them out and tease your hair up into a mock uber perm. Side part optional.

Look, we’re not saying bring back the perm. Natural curls are just fine by us. Those bouffants, in our time, are just crazy talk. But we would like to take a moment to celebrate the hairstyle that was, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight as well as with fondness. Before “ombre” was the style du jour, before we had The Rachel, before even the mullet died, we had The Perm. Behold: the curliest, boldest, most awesome perms ever to hit the silver screen.