In this election cycle, Chelsea Clinton has kept busy on the campaign trail. She’s been to Raleigh to cover women and tech, then Columbus to talk about millennials. Through it all, she looks happy, dressed in her trademark chic style with sleek locks that, for a certain generation of women, bring to mind what isn’t there: the boisterous curls of her youth.
I first remember seeing Chelsea Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, where she wore a sailor dress, white with blue piping. She was 12 years old. I had a sailor dress of my own -- blue with white piping -- that I wore to church with white nylons and Laura Ashley ballet flats. Like her, my head was a mass of frizzy curls. My hair had been pin-straight until puberty hit, when suddenly, I found myself topped with curls that I was completely unequipped to style.
In my Republican, evangelical Christian home, the Clintons were not celebrated, though never vilified (we were a PBS NewsHour family in those idyllic days before Fox News). The same could not be said for our local megachurch. I once overheard a member of my parent’s bible study saying he felt sorry for the White House’s dog: “They should put that Chelsea down!” It took decades for me to learn that lovely bon mot originated with Rush Limbaugh and not the gentleman who volunteered in the church’s youth group.
After that, I wore my hair in a tight, slicked-back bun, a look that was not particularly flattering but at least wasn’t so up-for-debate. I slumped in oversized clothing and obsessed over my bad skin and crooked teeth. Then Blind Melon’s “No Rain” video came out and my chosen look went from bland-but-safe to 100% deadly when paired with my chubby face and thick glasses. I looked so much like the girl in the video, kids at school would come up and "dance" in front of me while pointing and laughing. Fun times.