I've been sporting a bob with blunt bangs for around four years, and in those years I've realized a little bit more on why women call their hair a crowning glory. It's an identifier, a beacon warning your oncoming approach, a call to your identity. In my line of work I meet so many people, say so many names, and see so many faces—I must admit it's a bit of a struggle remembering all of them.
Usually you're given around two minutes to make an impression, and the easiest way to make one is to utilize your appearance. A visual cue of sorts. Mind you, I'm in no way the belle of the ball and my social awkwardness shows itself in the most painful ways, so I rely on tricking the eye. In my head, by getting an unusual haircut, you're automatically granted an identifier to any new person you come across. "Oh, she's that girl with the (insert defining hair characteristic here)!" is what they'll probably say the next time they come by your name. And, voila! Impression made. (Sustaining this good impression and the person's interest in you requires social skills, ones I'm not entirely blessed with. But that's another story.)
Which brings me to my conflict: By sporting the same hairstyle for four long years, have I committed myself to a rut? By relying on my blunt bob to give me an edge, have I in turn stunted myself by depending on my hair to stand out?
Hiding behind my bangs, as usual.
My usual modus with my "no bangs look" is reserved for days when I want to be unrecognizable, when all I want is to hide from the fashion persona I've cultivated as an editor and live amongst everyone as anonymously as I can be. Dramatic, I know. But in a glossy world that first takes notice of your looks, hiding from time to time (especially during exceptionally lazy Sundays) is a very tempting option. Blame it on the introvert in me, but I've always used the look as an escape to blend in.
Last week was a lazy one, and it prompted an experiment in French girl hair (also known as the incredible volume you get after not washing your hair for three days). Just something to note, people with bangs can't just not wash their bangs. Why? Think of all the accumulated gunk on your hair gently caressing your forehead with their oily tendrils, depositing built up filth in their wake. Needless to say, I wasn't planning on sporting bangs that week, and so the experiment commenced.
The first few days started out okay. I would jump out of the shower and, instead of blowdrying my bangs, comb all my hair in a side swept part. Getting dressed was a little tougher, though. Every morning, as I would go through my closet, I realized I was making a conscious effort to dress better. My usual combinations wouldn't cut it because I felt like I looked too simple, too plain, and a little unworthy of my job title with such a boring look. In that time, I was always aware of how my outfit might not make an impact and how it was easy to look like everybody else. In short, I kept trying to compensate for my basic hair.
That's not all that changed. The people around me changed, too. I had a few awkward situations wherein I'd emphatically wave and smile at an acquaintance, only to be met with a puzzled stare (and the occasional freeze out. Yup, it was cold.) One time I was in the office bathroom talking to another colleague, when I suddenly felt a hand on my elbow. "Oh my gosh, I didn't recognize you!" It was one of my bosses. "You look so different without bangs." This was a regular occurence during that time.
I didn't think I looked any different. Well, aside from the huge expanse of forehead making itself known to public, I didn't think my appearance changed. I was doing the same things, did my makeup the same way, wore the same clothes, and yet I was different.
Then the weekend rolled around and I spent three days at the beach with my non-fashion industry friends. No hair washing involved here! Not only was I committed to my newly found French girl hair texture, I was fully embracing the island life and forgetting that I had an identity attached to my hair. In that time of total hair negligence, not to mention the absence of makeup, I grew accustomed to my face and how it looked sans fringe.
Me at the beach, showing my forehead off with reckless abandon.
Fast-forward to the following Monday and I showed up at work without my bangs yet again. But that time there was no apprehension, no more uneasy feeling from the blatant forehead exposure, just a calm French girl-like nonchalance I was clearly exuding (Okay, the last part might have not been true, but the rest was, I swear!). That day I didn't think twice when I dressed up in ripped jeans, loafer mules, and an oversized banker stripe button-down to reaffirm my newfound chill on not needing to wear my hair as I usually did. My hair was fully off my face and tucked behind my ears, texturized by the leftover salt my shampoo had neglected to erase, and I felt like the same person.
This zen-like way of thinking and dressing carried on for some time, until I realized I needed a trim and I was back in the salon for a quick chop. "The usual," I uttered to my stylist, feeling a little unsure this time around. I couldn't help thinking, "Am I setting myself back from all the progress I made?" But the more I stared at my newly trimmed hair, the more sure I was about my decision. Not because I had missed attaching myself to a look, but because the vacation from my usual self brought on a certain amount of acceptance. Now, instead of hiding behind my bangs during social situations, I've embraced the feeling of having my hair off my face and even look forward to sporting second day hair. After this exercise I figured, despite being unrecognizable to some people, I'm still the exact same person with or without my bangs. And I guess, in the end, I needed to confirm that, too.