bad hair day attribution

AAllan at AOL.COM AAllan at AOL.COM
Mon Jun 17 18:53:32 UTC 2002

A person who is sought out by the OED as the originator of "bad hair day" is
very happy to have the honor:

Not Just Another Bad Hair Day

Newspaper columnist and author Susan Swartz (BSJ ’65) doesn’t get offended
if people know her for having a bad hair day. The Oxford English Dictionary
(OED) editors have credited her as being the first to publish the term "bad
hair day."

Swartz is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Santa Rosa, Calif., who
has also written a book that was read on National Public Radio (NPR) and
performed as a play.

<<<that's all that's on the website, but the story in the print version goes
on at length. Excerpts:>>>

Prevously, the term had been traced to comedian Garry Shandling, who in 1991
complained to a magazine about having a bad hair day. But reserchers
persisted and found an earlier use of the term in one of Swartz's 1988
columns in the Houston Chronicle. . . .
  "I really kind of wanted it to be mine, but in the essence of true
fact-finding, I was helping the researcher. I thought, maybe I heard it on
Seinfeld, but that show wasn't on in 1988. I said, maybe I read it in the
'Cathy' comisc, but they researched all those," Swartz said.
  Swartz pointed out that she will be known for inventing the term "bad hair
day" just like writer Alice Kahn is known for creating the term "yuppie."
  "I truly don't know if I made it up. At that time we had teen-age girls in
the house, and as any good columnist does, I'm always stealing things from my
relatives for my writing. Maybe one of them ran out the door saying her hair
was going to look bad all day," Swartz said.
  The OED counts only who published the term first, and that was Swartz. The
sentence she wrote was: "Even those who emerge from the sea to casually braid
their shiny wet vines into a thick coil with a hibiscus on the end also have
bad-hair days."
  "Anyone who writes is hoping his or her words will be immortalized in some
way. Although this is such a silly little thing, it has been really fun," she
  Swartz, who said she has endured teasing from friends, said few of them
will receive autographed copies of the OED. "You can't just go out and buy a
whole bunch of these to sign for your friends. The OED is this huge, mammoth

- Allan Metcalf

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