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Hospital Hair - Grey's Anatomy

Karen Marie Shelton 
Date: 02/12/2006 - Revised 02/22/2006

Introduction

(Grey's Anatomy cast - top row) Isaiah Washington (Dr. Preston Burke) Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey) Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang), James Pickens, Jr. (Dr. Richard Webber), Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) & T.R. Knight (George O'Malley). (Bottom row) Katherine Heigl (Isobel 'Izzie' Stevens), Justin Chambers (Alex Karev) & Patrick Dempsey as "Dr. Derek Shepherd"

Beware! Grey's Anatomy is one of those "can't just watch one episode" television venues.  I'm really not kidding.  But then I’m not the only one that adores this quirky but endearing show.  Grey’s debuted to an audience of 20 million people and is not the third most popular show in TV land.

I approached my first viewing of the show "for professional hair watching reasons" and became so addicted that I had to beg, borrow and steal to get my hands on all the original episodes that I missed. I was beyond curious how Meredith and her hot doctor first got together at Seattle’s Grace Hospital, where the agony and ecstasy of human life take place.

Oddly enough, some people compare the show to that other popular hospital show - ER.  Frankly, I don't get it.  Grey's Anatomy is completely different in so many ways. Don't get me wrong, I still like ER but I have never been as invested in the characters as I am with the Grey team.

Maybe I find it different because actress Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) adds a personal touch with her ongoing voiceover dialogues that highlight her ongoing self-doubt. Not to mention the fact that is feels like real people with all their warts hanging out.  After just one show I felt like I knew most of the characters personally.  Plus the show does a great job of mixing real-life humor with tragedy.  Just like life is for all of us humans.

Besides the fabulous, true-to-life, but not-too-gory story lines, the addictive cast with major acting chops and the amazing guest stars like Rosanna Arquette and Christina Ricci, the hairstyles are also a true visual feast to behold.  After all, I'm a hair watcher, which is how I got this TV series monkey originally on my back.

Continued below ↓
 

Contrasting Hair Styles & Trends

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy

The main female characters, copper hued Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), raven tressed Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), blonde Isobel "Izzie" Stevens (Katherine Heigl) and dark brunette Miranda "the Nazi" Bailey (Chandra Wilson) are perfect opposites in their hair hues, textures and styles. Mix in the thick ruby red locks of Meredith’s enemy - Dr. Addison Shepherd (Kate Walsh) - and you have the full spectrum of imaginable hair happenings.

Grey's Anatomy is based upon the daily traumas, joys and triumphs of Meredith Grey, played brilliantly by a long haired Ellen Pompeo.  The spunky actress pulls you easily into her world where she constantly struggles with the stress of fighting for the most interesting patients, dealing with an impossible love triangle, handling quirky roomies and caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s.

You would expect nothing less than for Meredith Gray to wear her hair in an array of messy but edgy ponies, loose chignons and adorable tousled styles.  With a life as chaotic as hers, no woman would have time for perfect hair.  Bad hair days would be more the rule than the exception for someone with a life like Meredith.  The set hairdressers do a great job of creating hairstyles that clearly telegraph the frenzy of her life.  Never mind that her wardrobe consists of scrubs, scrubs and more scrubs. 

Symbolic Hair References

Yet hair still pops up from time to time in other symbolic ways. Ironically, during a recent episode where Meredith faces eminent death via a bomb implanted in a surgical patient, she anguishes over the last kiss she shared with Dr. “McDreamy” Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).  When finally discussing their final kiss, Shepherd, Dr. Great Hair, reminds Meredith of her “sweet smelling hair”, which Meredith explains was scented with "lavender". 

That little comment melted TV viewing hearts around the globe while underlining the humanity of the characters and the show.

Hairstyles That Underline The Character’s Roles

Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy 

The brilliantly charming Sandra Oh who regularly steals the show with her award winning acting (winner of 2006 Golden Globe & Screen Actors Guild Awards) offers yet another tressed viewpoint that perfectly reflects the personality of the character she plays.  Both her conflicted character Cristina and her hair seem to be just slightly out of control.

Alternately ignoring yet appearing to battle with undulating waves of cobalt black tresses, Cristina gives the impression that she has hair apathy that results in styles that "do its own thing". Cristina’s hairstyles, like those of her female cast mates, is symbolic of her character’s raw ambition, cool exterior, in-your-face intensity and neurotic ballsiness.  Sometimes her wild side pops out swirled through her hilariously brusque bedside manners which are reflected by messier, twisted styles.

Chandra Wilson as Miranda Bailey  on Grey's Anatomy

Aspiring surgeon Cristina alternates between wearing her hair down and up.  When she wears it down, she will often casually clip it back from her stunning face with a silver hued jaw or claw popped casually into the shimmering strands. When she wears her hair up in random twists and ponies, she sends the message that she just happened to roll out of bed looking like a million hair bucks.  

Miranda Bailey is affectionally known as “the Nazi” for her no-nonsense attitude. Her hair perfectly reflects this attitude.  Wearing a no-nonsense chin-length bob, Miranda’s hair style is the last thing you might notice.  Although she displays the constant need to be on target with her interns and her bosses, she does not suffer fools or bad hair lightly..

Hair Follows Fashion

Katherine Heigl as Isobel "Izzie Stevens on Grey's Anatomy

Beautiful blonde Izzie and impeccably coiffed Addison Shepherd provide different character viewpoints with an array of sleek styles that would definitely work in a busy hospital setting, but are much more finished and less tousled than Meredith Grey's signature styles. 

Both Izzie and Addie (as some of her friends call her on the show) alternate between wearing their lush locks down setting off their beautiful features and pulling their tresses into buns and chignons.  In a recent episode it was revealed that Izzie and Addison are similar in many ways.  Is it any wonder that they often have similar hairstyles on the show?

Recently Izzie looked sassier than usual showing up with a style designed around side swept bangs and slicked back sides and top.  Since her story line involved a sizzling love-hate flirtation with Alex, it made sense that the on-set hairdressers would give her a saucy com-hither appearance keeping with her story line.

More so than any of the actresses on the show, Izzie appears to enjoy wearing hair accessories that range from plain tortoise inspired hair sticks to a variety of beautiful but practical hairclips and barrettes. She definitely seems to have the most hair fashion sense. Of course there is always the reality factor that her character has to keep her hair out of the way for surgical procedures and when seeing patients on rounds.

Nothing Like Their Characters

Kate Walsh As Addison Sheperd on Grey's Anatomy

If you wondered whether the hairstyles worn by the Grey’s Anatomy characters reflects their true personalities and style, the answer is a resounding no.  In a recent DVD launch held at Hollywood’s Geisha House on February 13, 2006, actresses Katherine Heigl  (Izzie) and Kate Walsh (Addison) appeared in drastically different styles.  Both were wearing edgy mini-quiffs. 

Izzie’s normal studied softness was replaced by a hard core rock and roll vibe. 

Addison had her soft red curls and waves slicked back into a stark style that was completely different from what you would expect her character to wear. Even Chandra Wilson (Bailey) looked completely different.  She morphed into a soft and feminine look that played up her eyes.  Hard to believe it was really the Nazi.

Summary

Grey’s Anatomy is a fabulous show.  In fact, it is so addictive that you may not be able to only watch one episode and walk away.  You may be hooked forever.

Besides the great actors, plot lines and guests, the regular characters offer an every changing show of hairstyles that reflect the personalities of their characters and their plot lines.  However, the real life tresses of the Grey’s Anatomy actresses seem very different than the characters that they play.

Which goes to show you what acting is really all about.

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