Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bang Theory

It takes forever to grow out bangs. It takes - I’m not really sure how long it takes, because I’ve never actually managed to do it.

Since the age of 4 or 5 when my mother sat me on the kitchen counter, brushed my hair down in front of my face, ran a strip of pink tape just above my eyebrows and snipped, I have lived life with only half a face. The rest is obscured by bangs.

Every year and a half or so, a model or actress makes big fashion news by cutting bangs (or fringe, to the English or French, though this word indicates a certain lack of commitment). And all of a sudden, it’s seen as a stylish option - something women can blithely run to the hairdresser and choose.

How I envy them! For these ladies, hair is just an accessory. They don't know it's all a continuum of darkness and personality disorder. Often begun by a frustrated parent in early childhood (“for God’s sake, would you get that hair our of your face!”) and compounded by TV’s influence (That Girl and Mary Tyler Moore), it can have an everlasting effect. A lifetime of ducking, hiding, peeping and squinting. Of contrived coquettishness and implied insouciance, smiling and people-pleasing. Marlo and Mary did manage to break free for a while with side and center parts but you’ll notice they inevitably show up in bangs again.

I know I should avoid women's magazines - they exist mostly to sell products. But I can't stop myself - I at least want to know all the different ways I'm doing it wrong. (French magazines are a little more forgiving, with flawed looking women the norm.) On one page you'll see an irritating article that says noone over 30 should wear bangs - it looks like you’re trying too hard to hold on to your youth. A female version of the male combover? Yet the makeovers always have hairdressers “softening” an older woman’s appearance by cutting bangs. They don’t tell the women that they’ve just been inducted into a kind of mafia of the hair, where you will try to get out and keep getting pulled back in. Some are strong enough to break free. Not me. I’ll get a little extra confidence going and almost manage to grow the bangs out. But the thought of full disclosure is terrifying or downright impossible. A bad day, a glass of wine, a mirror and a handy pair of scissors, and the months of pushing my hair to one side or the other while the front pieces grow out is washed down the drain. And the cycle begins again.

I’m thinking of starting a support group for the forehead-impaired. The members would mostly be women, although we would certainly consider accepting guys. We’d call each other up and talk it through in weak, haggard moments when the barber shears beckon once again.

But then some Goldie Hawn movie would come on TV and it would be all over...

Prompted by Sunday Scribblings


Sherry ~ Cherie ~ ms. herbes de provence said...

Amy -- you had me at the pink tape over the forehead!!! I have been in that chair--too many times!!

Loved this piece!!!

Devil Mood said...

Oh this post is fabulous! :)

I used bangs (I'm curious, why does fringe indicate lack of commitment?) until I was 11 or so. Do you know that doll Emily the strange? That was me. I eventually grew them out, it was probably a nightmare, can't remember.

When the bang-trend came back I considered cutting them again, but I immediately thought I'd probably regret it. Now I've given up because I'm sick and tired of everyone having bangs. I agree that it makes people look younger and probably softer.

tumblewords said...

I've not only been in the pink-tape position, I'd placed others (smaller than I) in that seat as well. Love your writing! Humor and reality blended well.

Rosie said...

Thank you for explaining to me what bangs are, I have never been sure up to now.
But whatever you call it/them I have always had a fringe.
I have been blessed/cursed depending on the decade with vast quantities of wavy coarse stuff which made very good big hair in the eighties, but is a liability for the slinky princess look. It is too heavy to tie back without giving me a headache and I cant see out of it unless I chop the front off. It is like barbed wire and will adopt peculiar spring board shapes when I sleep on it if I cut it short...baldness is the only other solution

keith hillman said...

So this is your version of the Big Bang Theory is it? I'd never heard of bangs until now!

Remiman said...

Wowee, you express youself wonderfully. A entertaining humorous essay on bangs...who'd a thought! I was throughly entertained.

amy said...

Sherry & Sue, I'm glad you remember the pink tape (though at least it was better than scotch tape...). Devil mood I think bangs is such a violent sudden word and fringe something soft you can buy in a fabric store, therefore easier to change your mind about? I admire your strength in holding out against cutting bangs again (that said, they'd probably look fantastic on you!) Rosie, deep down I suspected you were "banged", a kindred spirit. I agree, it is sometimes the only option.
I hope there was something in there for the guys. It's almost embarrassing how much things like appearance,hair and fashion confound and interest me. I'd tackle the topic of facial hair, but thankfully I don't have much personal experience with it...yet, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I love bangs! Although I'm one of those 'fringe' folk :) I've had bangs on and off over the years. Everytime I grow them out and cut them again I think "why did I wait so long to cut my fringe again, I love bangs!". My favourite lady of the bangs is Anna Karina. Pretty much all that 60s fringe crowd rocks my world to be honest.

amy said...

Le Tigre, you are so right about Anna Karina - perfection! Don't even get me started on all the mod French & English girls w/bangs (Francoise Hardy, Jane Birkin, Julie Christie, Marianne Faithfull) who haunt my dreams and force me to cut again...forget a simple post, this is the stuff of an entire dissertation.

frankenslade said...

Bangs are great on women of any age. Men need to avoid them past a certain, young age to avoid looking like an aging cast member of Beatlemania or a creepy, old DJ. Gotta sweep it back a bit, then let the chips fall where they may. Hair, when still in play, is a wonderful thing.

Michele said...

Count me in the forehead-impaired club!

And, damn it! I did it to myself at the age of four, cut my own hair this way. All these decades later, I still have them. But like that saying about how even a broken clock is right two times a day, my hairstyle comes in every few years or so. It's the only time I feel ahead of a trend.

P.S. Marlo Thomas and Mary Tyler Moore were huge in my life. I even knew the theme song to That Girl.