Christina Hendricks’ throwback high school photos show the beauty of being different

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Christobel Hastings
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For better or worse, every teenager experiments with their look. And while we may want to hide those high school photos away in the attic forevermore, Christina Hendricks’ proved that the occasional throwback can help us honour our individualism. 

Most people have a box of photos sealed away in their attic that they vow will never see the light of day. Because those photographs are testament to the awkwardness of our teenage years, as we struggled with severe braces, dodgy haircuts and even more questionable outfit choices. And very often, we’re completely unrecognisable.

However much we dislike our ‘ugly duckling’ phase though, those photographs open a window onto a past world, one in which our continual reinventions helped us develop into the adults we are today. Whether we experimented with purple hair dye, baggy stonewash flares or overplucked eyebrows (who didn’t?), our throwback looks, however dubious, can be a poignant reminder of our personal evolution.

Christina Hendricks reminded us of that when she took a trip down memory lane at the weekend, showing that even Hollywood A-listers have undergone major style transformations, just like the rest of us. 

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We might know Hendricks as Joan Holloway from Mad Men, the flame-haired office manager of advertising agency Sterling Cooper & Partners, but long before her famous femme fatale character came into being, the actress had a radically different look. And, safe to say, it’s a striking contrast to her glamorous 60s aesthetic, one that once earned her the title of “sexiest woman in the world’. 

In a set of candid throwback photos shared on Instagram, we see Hendricks as a full-on goth, complete with a black leather jacket, plaid skirt, and jet black hair cropped short beneath her ears. “Some high school flashbacks…. hard to be punk/goth in front of a ship-shadowbox. But trying SO HARD!” she captioned alongside the photos.

In the second photo from her days at Fairfax High School in Virginia, Hendricks stands alongside a group of friends in a spaghetti strap red dress before a school dance. 

Granted, Hendricks looks absolutely gorgeous both as a goth and as a 60s siren, but the high school reinvention wasn’t purely a fashionable whim. In past interviews, the actress detailed how her dark fashion sense was a coping mechanism to deal with high school bullies.

“We had a locker bay, and every time I went down there to get books out of my locker people would sit on top and spit at me,” she told The Guardian in 2014. “So I had to have my locker moved because I couldn’t go in there… I felt scared in high school. It was like Lord of the Flies. There was always some kid getting pummelled and people cheering.”

Despite the torment, Hendricks found solace in the drama department, where she began to channel her rage through acting. At the same time, she reinvented herself as a goth, turning to fashion as a means to both cultivate a unique look, as well as armour herself from the taunts.

“My parents would say, ‘You’re just alienating everyone. You’ll never make any friends looking like that,’” she continued. “And I would say, ‘I don’t want those people to be my friends. I’m never going to be friends with the people who beat up a kid while everyone is cheering them on. I hate them.’”

Three decades later, and Hendricks has six Primetime Emmy Award nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and two Critics’ Choice Awards to her name. And whilst her goth days are a thing of the past, her throwback photos show her metamorphosis to a Hollywood icon was rooted in overcoming adversity. So dig out those old teenage photos, and look back kindly on all the various looks of your youth - good, bad and downright unacceptable. As Hendricks proved, they’re a marker of individualism, and we should honour the memories. 

Image: Getty