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Meredith Vieira shares haircut 'horror story' with Jenna Bush Hager

A perm she got early in her career didn't exactly go as planned.
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/ Source: TODAY

It’s the ultimate hair nightmare: getting a style so bad that you just have to chop it all off and start over.

That’s exactly what happened to Meredith Vieira early in her career.

Meredith was chatting with Jenna Bush Hager during TODAY with Hoda & Jenna about hairstyles gone wrong after hearing about Ellen DeGeneres’ recent hair disaster.

Meredith found a way to turn her hair nightmare into a positive experience for her career.Nathan Congleton/TODAY

“I have such a horror story,” Meredith said. “I had great hair but it was very straight and I thought, 'I’m going to perm my hair.' I wanted that look.”

But the perm didn’t go exactly as planned.

“The first perm didn’t take,” she said. “It didn’t look like I’d done anything, so I went back two days later, which you should never do.

"They said, ‘Okay, we’ll do your hair again.’ My hair started breaking off in clumps. It was like straw. It was terrible.”

Now, Meredith can laugh about her hair "horror story."Nathan Congleton/TODAY

Meredith panicked, because she was just about to start her new job as a national correspondent for CBS News. She turned to her good friend, a hairstylist, for help.

“(My friend) said, ‘I’m gonna just have to chop it all off, Meredith, there’s no other other way,’” she recalled. “So I ended up with sort of a modified pixie, which is not a good look on this face. It did not look good.”

Meredith rocked both short and long hair during her early days at CBS. The look on the right might be her pixie in the process of growing out. Getty Images

It turns out the pixie cut had a huge impact on her career. For the first few months of her new job, she wore a hat at work to conceal her short style. But eventually, one of her managers asked her to take off the hat.

“I could see a look on his face,” she said. “And I don’t know if this is why, but I was shipped to the Midwest bureau a week and a half later.”

Meredith said that in the Midwest she would have to wear a hat every day. So, no one would see her hair for months.

This was an unexpected blow, but it ended up jump-starting her career.

“It ended up actually being the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “At that time in the Midwest, the farms were failing, there were a lot of bad things happening … I was on every single day reporting form the Midwest. So, I got instant name recognition and credibility because of that.

“If I had not chopped off my hair, who knows what would have happened?”

She and Jenna also compared some of their past, "questionable" hairstyles.

Honestly, they both look great in these old photos — and as Meredith's pixie story proves, even a "questionable" hairstyle can open unexpected doors.

"Lemons (to) lemonade, it happens all the time," she said.