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Mean Girl Story


Everyone Has a Mean Girl Story—Barbara Tells Hers

Everyone Has a Mean Girl Story — Barbara Tells Hers

No! You can’t become a nun. You’d have to cut your hair.” That’s me pleading with my friend of the half-way down her back strawberry blond soft curls. It’s too beautiful.” I croon. She tells me and the other girls we know that her hair is beautiful all the time. We nod and agree. 

It is 1959. A few weeks before, we had seen The Nun’s Story with Audrey Hepburn. We are ten years old. She of the strawberry-blond soft curls has a publicity photo of Audrey thumbtacked to her attic bedroom wall. I stare at Audrey. She is so beautiful. My friend and I pose like Audrey, hands palm-to-palm in prayer, towels tacked around our heads, glancing toward the heavens with pious eyes.

Pre-Audrey, becoming a nun had not been on my list of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Me silent for long periods of time? Never. Post-Audrey, taking religious orders seemed better than being a nurse, teacher or secretary. I am, like lots of little Catholic girls, beautiful-nun-crazy. 

The Nun’s Story did big box office, and the media cashed in on nun-mania. The Million Dollar Movie,” aired The Song of Bernadette, a 1943 film with Jennifer Jones. She is beautiful and devout and dewy-eyed. In Catechism Class, we are studying for Confirmation, learning about the miracle of Lourdes. All of us girls want to know the ecstasy Bernadette experienced at the sight of Mary. Pretty much all of us take Bernadette for our Confirmation names. We practice saying and writing our new names — first, middle, Bernadette and last names — so proud. 

One afternoon, my strawberry-blond friend and I are weighing the pros and cons of heading off to a nunnery. We can’t become nuns until we finish high school unless our parents say it’s okay.” I remind her. Do you think your parents would say yes?”

My friend’s soft curls bob up and down. She’s laughing. Of course not.” She looks in the mirror and tosses her hair this way and that. I’m too pretty to be a nun. I’m going to be a movie star like Audrey Hepburn and Jennifer Jones.” She turns to me , But you. I’d ask your parents about becoming a nun right away.”