For many, a new whirl around the sun represents a new chapter, a fresh start, an opportunity to better themselves and their lives. I won’t presume to know what shape your personal betterment takes. Maybe it’s physical, professional, emotional. Maybe you don’t feel the need to change anything at all. Maybe you think New Year’s resolutions have morphed into a capitalist scam meant to trick you into buying a bunch of expensive trash you’ll use exactly twice. Regardless, there is one change I made this year that I think would make a great resolution for everyone — it is getting bangs.
Why bangs? Well, first of all: Michelle Obama; Brigitte Bardot; Rashida Jones; the Beatles; Jane Birkin; Alexa Chung; Rihanna; Leonardo DiCaprio; Marie Kondo; Audrey Hepburn; Naomi Campbell; Pikachu … I could go on forever. Chace Crawford in the early seasons of Gossip Girl! He’s another one. Sandra Bullock! Zendaya! Ina Garten! Okay, I’ll stop.
Bangs are both classic and ever so slightly edgy, practical and whimsical, a sweet little curtain of hair for your forehead. They give you a “look” without you having to learn how to create a “look.” This last point was the most compelling for me, personally, and is the reason I got bangs this fall (Saturday, September 15, 2018, at 1 p.m.).
Before my bangs, I had essentially the same hair from 1998 until Saturday, September 15, 2018, at 12:59 p.m. That hair was just-below-shoulder-length, frizzy-straight, and the color of a yawn. Its overall vibe could best be described as “apologetic.” I never experimented much with different hairstyles, because I was waiting patiently for the day that I would wake up and suddenly have the thick, bronde, waist-length, half-wavy locks of a minor reality-TV star. But years passed, and that day never came, and my hair remained the follicular equivalent of a rainy, anxious Sunday night. I wanted a change.
Briefly, I considered bleaching my hair into an icy blonde oblivion, but the high cost of going and staying blonde turned me off, as did my fear that the repeated application of hydrogen peroxide would fry my already flimsy tresses and leave me looking like Beetlejuice. Then one day, just as I was resigning myself to a life of hair that looks like stale coffee tastes, my co-worker told me about a crush of hers, French New Wave muse Juliet Berto. Berto, I discovered after a quick skim of her Wikipedia page, was a talented actress, director, and screenwriter from the ’70s and ’80s, but most of all, she was a woman with truly stupendous bangs — long, soft, a little unkempt, and impossibly, infuriatingly cool. Suddenly, I wanted bangs. I needed them.
I became a woman obsessed. I spent all of my free time Googling things like “famous bangs” and “best celebrity bangs” and “bangs on square face??”. I downloaded several of those apps where you can take a selfie and see what different hairstyles would look like on you, even though none of them worked and all of them made me look like I was wearing enormous Lego hair helmets. In the morning, I would stand in front of my mirror and create makeshift bangs by folding the front of my hair up over my forehead, which looked, I thought, surprisingly good. After several weeks of indecision, I decided to do it.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that the road to bangs is not without obstacles. When I announced my hair plans to my parents, my father dropped his head and mumbled, “Oh no…” and my mother said, “It’ll be fine!” in a really high-pitched voice. When I told the guy I was seeing at the time, he laughed, and then we never saw each other again, which may have been because we were emotionally incompatible, or may have been because of the bangs. Friends and colleagues tried to dissuade me, sending me pictures of their past bangs, which they said were terrible, and I thought were lovely. The night before my appointment, a friend texted me. “Are you really getting bangs?” she asked, and then, “Can’t you just dye your hair instead?”
I would not be deterred. And my dedication was worth it. After my chop, both of my parents exclaimed, “Oh wow, that’s actually not bad,” and my friends and colleagues said they looked “wow” and “great” and “good.” And I love them. My bangs make me feel more intentional — they are a conscious decision about my appearance, made and acted upon by me, as opposed to the waiting-for-something-better-to-come-along hairdo I sported for two whole decades.
Some people (haters) will tell you that bangs are high-maintenance, or unflattering on 80 percent of people, or too expensive, or that only children can pull them off, or that they’re the frazzled act of someone forehead-deep in an emotional meltdown. To which I would respond: (1) Not really! Just give them a quick straighten or blow dry in the morning and you’re good to go, (2) there are different types of bangs for different faces! You can go wispy or blunt, long or short, baby or TERF, (3) a lot of salons offer free bang trims, (4) did you not see my extremely comprehensive list up there? and (5) bangs are not always part of an emotional meltdown, but if they are, so what — cutting your hair is one of the least harmful things you can do when you feel like you’re spinning out. Lean into it.
I am sure your hair is already good, and lovely, but now is a time for new beginnings. Make this year the year you get rid of the people and habits and parts of your coif that don’t serve you anymore. Make it the year you gaze out at the world around you from under a soft, protective visor of your own hair, confident in the knowledge that you are standing of the shoulders of fringed greats, and that your forehead is safe and toasty under its little blanket. Please — join me in making 2019 the year of bangs.