My mom wore her 90s bangs with pride. In fact, she started rocking the bangs with an 80s flair — in her high school senior photo, she has big hair and a brilliant smile to match.
Like my mom, my bangs have always defined me. I’ve had bangs for as long as I can remember, with stints of unsuccessful bang-free hairstyles in between. I’ve worn synthetic wigs with bangs, and used clip-on bangs to create the illusion of actual bangs in lieu of monthly trips to the hair salon. Once, in fifth grade, I cut my own bangs over the bathroom sink — and my fifth grade school photo captured the awful turnout in all its glory, with the hair hacked away and only about two inches of straggling brown bangs showing off my long forehead.
I mistakenly thought that, instead of patiently waiting for bangs to grow out, I could cut them so short they wouldn’t exist. I quickly found out this was impossible.
A few years ago, I surveyed all my close friends. I wanted to know: Should the bangs stay, or should they go? I’ve had them for almost my entire life, and I’m often told they define me. Internet trolls use them as a springboard to make fun of me, and kinder people have called them “intense.” My bangs are pretty polarizing; people either love them or they hate them. Most of my friends agreed that I should keep my iconic bangs, but the few dissenters made me wonder: Have I outgrown my bangs, as a twenty-four-year-old working professional?
"When I got a pixie cut my senior year of high school, and then dyed it dark blue in college, people were amazed. I was a whole new me. The truth is, though, that this hairstyle just works for me."
I often get mistaken for sixteen (or nineteen at the oldest) which is frustrating, because I’ve done my time as an intern — I want to be seen for the adult that I am. Or at least the adult cat (can basically make it on my own, but needs guidance) that I am. Some people would say my bangs make me look younger and I should grow them out, but I disagree. My bangs don’t magically change my appearance, but my forehead feels naked without them.
When bangs were really in style in the 90s and 2000s, I was in my element. Everyone wanted my look. Right now, asymmetrical bobs and waves are hot, but I’m keeping my blunt-as-hell thick bangs.
I’m not a trend setter or a trend follower; I have my own fashion sense that’s completely independent of what’s splashing across Instagram — although I am very in favor of the pastel hair dye trend.
Since my hairstyle has basically been the same since I was seven — straight and brown with blunt bangs — people always urge me to “switch things up” every chance they get. If I wear my hair in a ponytail or a braid one time, the amount of comments and compliments I get doubles just because it’s different. When I curled my hair for my junior prom (a style that I absolutely hated, by the way) everyone told me they loved it and didn’t realize my hair was capable of curling.
When I got a pixie cut my senior year of high school and then dyed it dark blue in college, people were amazed. I was a whole new me.
The truth is, though, that this hairstyle just works for me. I’ve changed up the length and color from time to time, but face framing layers and bangs bring out my light blue eyes and highlight my cheekbones. The cut hides my ridiculous forehead and draws attention to my smile, which endured five years of braces.
Even when I’ve experimented with wigs and hair extensions in the last six years, I’m always drawn to bangs. I own clip-on bangs from college, when I decided I didn’t want to keep going back to the hair salon every three weeks. Not one of my friends could tell the bangs weren’t attached to my head until I unclipped them in a demonstration.
When people find out I’m wearing a wig, their follow-up question is generally, “What does your real hair look like?” The answer is pretty much exactly the same, right down to the blunt bangs.
My mom had bangs for most of her adult life — it’s one of the reasons she got the nickname Peppermint Patty — and so far, I have too. Maybe a part of me wants to carry on her legacy now that she’s gone, or maybe I just look identical to her so the same haircuts flatter me that flattered her. Either way, I like to think she’s proud of me every time I defend my 90s bangs.