Meg Ryan’s choppy, messy bob was one of the defining hairstyles of the ’90s. And it all started with a curling iron mishap.Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images
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As Ryan wrote, she and stylist Sally Hershberger had been trying to figure out a style that would fit the character in her latest movie, “French Kiss”:
I got the famous haircut mostly by accident — in “French Kiss” I played a character stranded in Paris without luggage, money, or a place to live, so it was a stretch to think she had much opportunity to shampoo. Sally had to figure out hair that looked bad but sort of good all at once.
It was while they were trying different looks that Hershberger accidentally set fire to Ryan’s hair:
While we were working it out during the camera test, she punctuated some remark she was making by pulling the curling iron way over her head. A sizable chunk of my hair had singed off and was still wrapped around the iron. I noticed the flame first. For a second Sally looked like the Statue of Liberty: frozen, torch aloft, and a little green.
Having burned off a portion of the star’s mane, they had no choice but to create a haircut that worked with it. Ryan added that she didn’t blame Hershberger for the accident:
You can’t really blame her for the iron’s overheating because of the different voltages in Europe. She was left to scissor away until we got what we got.
Ryan said she found out the haircut was famous from Hershberger, who was soon besieged with requests for the same cut (reportedly an impossible task for those whose hair is too curly or too straight.)
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Even today, Ryan still has the odd sensation of seeing her old haircut in person. She wrote:
I still see it on people in New York. Occasionally, it suits the person sporting it but mainly not, because it was the 90s after all, and its time has passed.
Though she mostly finds it “funny” to be a person with “famous hair,” Ryan said that her children haven’t been as fond of the style changes that go along with the role. Once, after getting her hair done for a photo shoot, she checked in on her sick son and found that he wanted to be comforted by a mom with messy hair:
I looked in on him sleeping and touched his flushed little face with the back of my hand. He opened his eyes, took one look at me, and burst into tears. He mooshed my hair around and felt better, I guess, because he went directly back to sleep.
Her daughter evidently feels the same:
My daughter also finds disorienting anything approaching organized hair on me. She’s 12 now, but when she too was about 6, I had my hair flat-ironed for some reason, and I kissed her good night.
“I love you,” I said.
“Say that to me with messy hair,” she whispered.
Ryan admitted that she’s always had issues with fame, which makes her experience with “famous hair” even more ironic.
Last year, she told Vanity Fair:
“I am a terrible celebrity. If I started my career today, I wouldn’t have a chance. It’s a totally different experience. Social media has changed things. It’s so vast and big. I couldn’t handle the constant attention and the judging.”
Though she said she tries to avoid reading about herself or getting wrapped up in social media, Ryan does have one valuable lesson to pass on. She wrote:
“I speak only with the authority of a person who can still see her haircut from 20 years ago on a stranger, that is to say none, but life is more fun when you’re less interested in what other people think of you.”