Skip to main content
Help fund us

The Big Data

of Big Hair

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, one could argue that the hairstyle in your yearbook photo is at least 990 of them. Hair is decade-defining — it’s hard to think of the 1930s without finger waves, the 1960s without beehives, the 1970s without afros, the 1990s without mullets, or the 2000s without frosted tips.

And, if you think of the 1980s, well, you probably think of hair teased to the heavens. After all, “the higher the hair, the closer to God.” But were the 1980s really when big hair reached its height? That’s where data comes in.

Using deep learning and neural network classifiers (more on this in the methodology), we looked at a dataset of more than 30,000 high school yearbook photos from 1930–2013 to see what should really be crowned the “Big Hair Era.”

Watch the video above and explore median hair size in the chart below to see what we found.

Women's most average style in the 1930s

Men's most average style in the 1930s