Bangs are like cilantro—you either love them or hate them.
My relationship with cilantro is a lot like my relationship with bangs, indifferent but really great when they’re done right. While I don’t currently have bangs, I’ve had them twice in my young adult life—once in high school and once in college. Each time I got bangs I received a multitude of unsolicited opinions from friends who warned me repeatedly, “You’ll regret it!” There was a vibe of fear around bangs that permeated deeper than simply not liking them.
While the backlash bang-haters create seems harsh, I’ve learned it’s actually well intentioned. Bang cutting is often associated with a woman on the edge of an emotional breakdown (cue every movie where an emotionally distressed female character cuts her bangs shakily in front of a mirror). As a result, “bang warnings” have become an epidemic, a feminine propagated anxiety that has shaken society to its core.
As children, most little girls have bangs. Just take a look at class pictures from preschool age and on. To outsiders it looks cute (it probably was), but the vulnerability that comes with youth often blurs the reality of the situation. Our embarrassing, awkward stages are often entirely out of our control. Their perpetrated by meddling mothers, hormones, gullibility, and uninformed decisions. Bangs are a physical reminder of our childhood trauma. Even if they could actually serve as a viable fashion statement, the trauma associated with bangs often travels into adulthood and influences our present-day decisions. Women think, “I was ugly, I was awkward, and I had bangs.” Bangs become the scapegoat for our past insecurities.
There’s also the issue that bangs are a pain to grow out. If you want to grow out your bangs, you run the risk of having them covering your eyes for around 3-6 months. Bangs make women anxious because it means they are willingly agreeing to about a half a year of bad hair days. And since a woman’s worth has been dictated by her hair for centuries, women subconsciously prescribe to the notion that hair is a means of validation; even today. Bangs “jeopardize” beauty so women have started to proceed with caution.
Bangs also intrude on the routine of everyday life. What used to be throwing your hair into a ponytail and going for a jog has become struggling with how to deal with greasy bangs. Sometimes no matter what you do to them, bangs can never seem to rest nicely on your head. They are not a hairstyle that’s conducive for a quick, five minute morning routine. Bangs are literally like a target on your forehead. Any stray hair and the world knows you are unable to tame them.
Finally, there is the quintessential unthought-out and unplanned hair change that many women (or men—we all like a change!) go through after facing something traumatic. Often, when a woman brings up bangs to her friends, they know that this might be the case, so they put her on blast. This concern could get misconstrued into dislike for bangs rather than a simple warning.
Lindsey Goldin, a Communications major, impulsively cut her bangs during midterms her sophomore year. “I wasn’t in a bad place at all; honestly, I think I was looking for inspiration, maybe even artistically, because I felt stifled and bored with my current look,” Goldin said. What happened next was a mistake. “They looked pretty bad because I cut them myself. [My friend] Delia’s mom, who’s a hairdresser, fixed them for me. But I had to go all the way to western Mass to have her fix them.”
There are some women who rock their bangs (peep Rashida Jones). Some women can’t imagine life without them. When getting bangs, it is important to consider whether you actually want them or just think you do. It’s important to think over the consequences—will this affect how I part my hair? Is my hair the right texture that it wouldn’t require too much work? Would I have to straighten them? Do I have the patience to grow them out? Do I actually want them or have I just watched too many Zooey Deschanel movies? Unplanned bang-trimming just adds more fuel to the bang-hating fire. Women who don’t properly think through their bang decisions will blame the bangs rather than blaming themselves. This gives bangs a bad name and, trust me, they don’t deserve that.
Illustration by: Eleanor Hilty