In recent years, bangs have been seen as attractive – Bettie Page, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Birkin, Kate Moss – so it’s easy to forget that the times we’re living in are something of an aberration. For most of history, cutting bangs has tended to mark a woman as odd, crazy, or suspicious. In the 1600s, conservative churches believed that bangs indicated you were about to commit a mortal sin. This was true even well into the 1920s, which is why bangs were key to the rebellious flapper bob. There are stories of parents suing hairdressers for giving their daughter this haircut in case it hurt her chances of marriage.
Those old fringe policies are back. Having bangs these days says one of three things: breakup, breakdown, or mutiny. You can’t get bangs with that in mind, but that doesn’t matter. Haircuts simply reflect the culture around them. You can’t explain your haircut to everyone you meet.
How did we come here? Here are some inflection points. The self-cut bangs of Hannah Horvath in the series of Lena Dunham Girls, which begins as an attempt to recreate Carey Mulligan’s pixie hairstyle and ends with a medieval bowl cut. Claire’s bob in Flea bag, making it look like a pencil. Michelle Obama’s 2013 “strike,” which she later called a midlife crisis: “I couldn’t buy a sports car. They won’t let me bungee jump. So instead, I cut my bangs.
Around 2018, bangs officially became a symbol of emotional turbulence. He says: impulse. It says: kitchen scissors in front of the bathroom mirror. He says: self-sabotage. He says, no, I haven’t had any therapy. In fact, in the United States, the “therapy for bangs” meme is so well established that in the last year, magazines ran articles like, “I have bangs but that’s not a cry for help. “.
At this point, I want to produce a male equivalent of the female fringe, but it’s hard to imagine one. There are male hairstyles that send out similar signals of distress: the mullet, the brittle beard, the man bun, the dramatic mustache. But none of these match the Fringe for their impulsiveness and capacity for regret. To grow a complicated mustache, a man must be in a chaotic emotional state for several weeks, repeatedly rejecting the chances of changing his mind. If he recovers at some point, he can just shave. Apparently, the male “curtains” of 1990s boybands are back, but this is somewhat different. The male fringes do not have the same background.
You might think you can escape fringe bias. You can not. American writer Kaitlyn Tiffany compared the bangs cut to Britney Spears’ head shaving incident in 2007. They feel liberating but put you in a box. They try to take control to lose it. They reject the judgment of the world to invite it more strongly. Bangs are a haircut paradox.
Beware of haircuts that set you free. And especially beware of the fringe. Almost every “bad haircut” on screen features bangs because there are so many things that can go wrong: short, pudding bowl, sideways, greasy. Bangs are dramatic, irreversible (at least for a month or two) and of all haircuts, the most tempting is to try it yourself. Most people are unsuitable for a bang, a fact normally only achieved after the deed is done. Resist.