I Have Bangs Now







The first time I insisted on having bangs was at six years old. Even then I knew that my curly bangs didn’t look “right”—I kept pulling them down, trying to make them look more like the straight bangs I saw on dolls and other girls. There have been two other times when my front tendrils were just within reach of real bangs: middle school, when they were styled into long side bangs, and my sophomore year of college when I cut them to a cheekbone-grazing length that was neither here nor there. Despite these clumsy attempts that never quite worked, I can’t stop loving bangs. Maybe because I’ve always thought my hair texture precludes me from having them.

Since each strand coils differently and has to be treated accordingly, cutting curly hair is like playing Whack-A-Mole. It requires a skillful hairdresser to find what balance looks like for each person. Good curly cuts come from those who divide the hair into five, maybe six sections, rather than the standard three. Great curly cuts come from those with the patience and acuity to go curl by curl, because curly hair looks best when it's cut at slightly varied lengths. And it’s often the case that when some of the weight is cut, a new pattern emerges. All of that makes for a bit of a logistical nightmare when trying to cut well-shaped bangs on curly hair. The difference between a nod to the 80s and a parody of it is one miscut strand.

In a stroke of personal luck, my mom happens to be a hairdresser who can give one of those great curly cuts. Even luckier: we’re quarantining together. So on a sunny, slow Thursday afternoon of answering work emails and Slack messages, I asked my mom, sitting just a coffee table away from me, if she could please cut my bangs. I didn’t have to awkwardly explain that between washes I do nothing to my hair except fluff it with some water to push my curls out rather than down. She knows. And with nowhere to go and no one to see, I wouldn’t have to come up with an explanation for why I was suddenly into bandanas if the whole thing went awry. She didn’t even hesitate to get her shears.

So, now I have bangs. Here are eight observations from my new life:

  1. My bangs hardly look like the reference image I had in mind but truthfully, writing this marks the second time I’ve given it any thought.

  2. But that first moment was startling. My tips: Ease it with a big laugh, don’t touch your hair (frizz will only amplify your concerns), and give your new look three weeks to settle. This timeline reflects data I’ve very scientifically collected from past hair-altering experiences. It, almost always, takes three weeks.

  3. Patience takes practice! In the morning I meticulously twirl them into shape… and again in the afternoon when they’ve completely changed.

  4. Bangs emphasize brows in the best way and under eye bags in the worst way.

  5. Amidst the monotony of being indoors all day, every day, my face looks new and especially intriguing. Even brushing my teeth is fun.

  6. Cutting my bangs jolted me into wanting to get dressed again! Wanting to wear red lipstick again! Wanting to sometimes put hoops into my earlobes too!

  7. Most of my outfits right now aren't particularly cool, but the bangs make me feel very, very cool.

  8. And days when they’re especially uncooperative remind me that bangs are only temporary—as are all great days, frustrating days, OK days, and this whole situation.

The truth is, me-with-bangs (much like me-in-quarantine) is still just me. Only with more time for self-reflection, and nurturing my sourdough starter and poodle-esque tendrils. Luckily, waiting for hair to grow back is much more exciting than watching dough rise.

—Roberta Samuel

Photos via the author