Whether it’s switching up the furniture or organizing closets, people practicing self-isolation are craving some change in their day-to-day lives. Boredom has bred a new beast with ever-so tempting quarantine makeovers flooding social media. Among these DIY looks, one of the more daring and popular trends during this time has been to cut your own bangs. From Bella Hadid to Rosalía, celebrities are picking up the shears and taking the leap to show off their homemade trims.
While now is the perfect time to try something new, getting bangs can often feel like a drastic measure. The question of whether or not to make the cut may even keep you up at night. The decision can dramatically change your look for better or for worse, which has brought about a meme-able quality to getting bangs as a jerk reaction to emotional distress. “If u want bangs u should go to therapy first,” one prudent user wrote on Twitter. In 2013, former First Lady Michelle Obama referred to her own newly debuted bang look as her “midlife crisis.”
Though some deem the style as the product of existential crisis, bangs hold a significance in ancient traditions. For both men and women, the look has shifted in and out of fashion epochs in various shapes, lengths, and styles, offering up a range of iconic bangs along the way. Beyond good hair days, bangs have a history of transcending past fashion statement and holding political and religious significance across cultures around the world.
While it’s a myth that Cleopatra was the first to wear bangs, the hairstyle was popular in Ancient Egypt. Blunt bangs were seen on natural hair and ornately decorated wigs. The style then made its way across the the empires of Ancient Greece and Rome. Following antiquity, historians date the first traceable roots of bangs to Medieval Spain. An influential Iraqi Renaissance man named Ziryab introduced a variety of fashionable trends across Islamic Iberia, including changing clothes from season to season and, of course, bangs. According to scholar Al-Maqqari, before Ziryab, the men and women in the region were accustomed to wearing their hair long, parted in the middle and hanging loose down to the shoulder. Ziryab, however, sported his own hair down to his eyebrows and cut straight across the forehead, leaving the neck and ears free.
In 16th century England, bangs were phased out of trends as large, elongated foreheads were favored for women during the Elizabethan era. This period saw men of East and West Europe sport the style, however, wearing short bangs at least an inch above the eyebrows. According to The Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History, in the 1600s, bangs were a controversial statement as the conservative clergy regarded women who cut or curled their bangs to be on their way to committing a mortal sin. The church presided over the direction of political and fashion trends (sometimes a combination of the two) and similarly to the history of makeup, bangs were seen as a sign of vanity–an an example of pride, and one of the seven deadly sins.
Nevertheless, the style continued to crop up during the next few hundred years. Frizzy, ultra-curled bangs became popular in the mid-1880s when Princess Alexandra of Wales wore the style in this way. Alexandra, who would become the queen of England after marrying King Edward VII, would arrange her hair in a bundle atop the head so that it fell over her forehead in what was nicknamed the “Alexandra fringe.”
At the turn of the 20th century, bangs fell out of political control and fell into the hands of celebrities. With the rise of cinema in the 1920s, experimental fashion was at an all time high, promoted by rule-breaking flapper girls. Actress and Jazz Age icon Louise Brooks was a leading figure of flapper fashion, recognized for her avant-garde, bluntly bobbed hair with straight, short bangs. Called the Dutchboy, the style was said to have originated from East Asian hairstyles.The curled bang of the ’50s popularized by pin-up model Bettie Page, also known as the “Bettie bang,” became synonymous with the sex symbol’s provocative glamour shots. At the same time, actress Audrey Hepburn wore a shorter version of the bang, debuting a pixie haircut for her role in Roman Holiday, which featured light fringe across the forehead. The look would later be emulated by the mod pixie cuts of Twiggy and Mia Farrow. Perhaps the most stylish era for bangs was the swinging ’60s and ’70s, when French It girls like Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin, and Françoise Hardy all sported fringe, making their mark on fashion. Their undone, just rolled out of bed curtain bangs were effortlessly chic and proved the timelessness of French girl fringe.
With the rise of ’90s supermodels, figures like Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, and Christy Turlington all opted for face-framing bangs at one point or another. Evangelista was particularly known for her chameleon-like quality, constantly changing her look and hair. From her famous pixie done by master hairstylist Julien d’Ys to her blunt cheekbone-length hair, the model showed the versatility of bangs.
Into the 2000s, models such as Agyness Deyn and her blonde, choppy locks and Freja Beha Erichsen and her tousled fringe became instantly recognizable by their signature ‘dos. In 2010, Kate Moss stepped onto the scene wearing newly chopped brow-grazing bangs and subsequently wreaked havoc on fashion trends. “I got bored one night and cut it—with kitchen scissors,” she once said. Moss had worn a similar style in 2007, but this look skyrocketed as one of her many trendsetting moments, foreshadowing a future of women and men taking their scissors to their own hair for an at-home fringe cut.
Bangs come and go, and the shift in styles are reflective of the times and the leading people living in them. From celebrities to royals, bangs have a history as a signature style that is definitive of the wearer. Once seen as a condemnation-worthy hairdo, getting bangs is now considered an act of bravery for many. Especially as much of the world sits idle at home, making the cut can be the source of adrenaline and excitement missing from our daily lives. For those itching for a new look or are just in need of a dose of makeover therapy, the endless variations of fringe styles ensures that there’s a bangin’ look for everyone.END
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