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Behind the controversy of bangs

If you happen to follow me on Tiktok, then you’re most likely aware that I got bored with my hair and gave myself bangs a few weeks back. It seemed like a good choice at the time, albeit I did need to get a hair stylist to help me fix it. I still stand by my bangs, that chaotic choice, and even their length. As I wrote to one of my friends, “it’s giving ‘70s, Lana, manic pixie, Sylvia Plath vibes.” As a male, not only did he fail to see the essence of bangs, but also their attractiveness. While I will state that despite his current frat boy behavior that makes me want to slap him in the face, his annoyance with bangs weren't directed toward mine. They were towards the haircut in general and his thought that it ruined a woman’s attractiveness. Now, because I’ve known him since middle school and have no issue with being a bitch (especially to my friends) you can imagine that this comment was addressed.

It was a while ago, it doesn’t particularly matter anymore.

Yet, the statement made me think. What was the history behind bangs and the cultural significance in the haircult? It’s so often viewed as a sign of stress, anger or even needing to leave part of someone's old life behind. Other women get this, they also see the beauty in the messy fringe which was proven in the past few weeks as random women I didn’t know compliment my hair.

Men, it seems, are not the biggest fans. Part of this can be traced to biology. It might be well known that men tend to go towards women with fuller lips and plenty of curves because it’s a sign of fertility, along with this men tend to prefer a higher forehead as this can be a sign of fertility as well. With bangs covering this part of the head, you won’t be able to see the whole face or all the forehead–explaining why most men often prefer side-swept bangs rather than a blunt fringe.

Besides the biological aspect, bangs also carry a heavy stereotype. From the thought process of ‘break-up bangs’ to the idea that a woman who gets bangs isn’t fully mentally stable. This can be traced back to the manic pixie girls in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but even the ‘mentally unstable’ Tumblr girls of the 2010s. As the writer, Allie Wach tweeted in 2018 as a semi-joke, “Personally I believe wanting bangs is almost never about wanting bangs and if u want bangs u should go to therapy first.” Underneath this tweet, multiple people backed up the claim. I won’t disagree, bangs are a sudden and drastic change that is usually done to evoke a sense of control over your life. Bangs can be seen as something only a fashion plate would wear or even something deeply feminist given men’s aversion to them.

In the ‘20s free-wheeling flappers not only embraced the bob but also bangs. Greta Garbo would embrace the haircut in the ‘30s. Audrey Hepburn sported side-swept fringe. Brigit Bardot popularized the haircut in the ‘60s making it seem like classic french-girl chic. In the ‘90s one might think of Courtney Cox playing Monica Geller, but by the 2000s the style seemed to have adopted its own personality. Mean, preppy, and uptight would be the words that come to mind. And then in the 2010s manic and unhinged were the choice words for girls with bangs.

I reside on the side of chaotic bangs, the vintage thought process that the style is quirky and cool. There are so many different styles of bangs and so many ways to frame or hide your face that there’s something to be said for the crazed 3 AM trimming of your hair that most women have gone through.

Maybe it's indie, maybe it's uptight.

But at the end of the day, some will like bangs and others hate them. They’re a dividing hairstyle. But mine? They’re here to stay for a while.

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