With Kate Middleton’s recent destruction of her wonderful, perfect hair, we have yet another example of why bangs are the scourge of humanity. Look, I get the impulse. You want to do something different with your hair! But you don’t want to cut it all off, and good highlights are expensive, plus all of that bleaching can destroy your hair and feel so permanent. So you think: “Oh, I know! I’ll get bangs.” I am here to tell you: NO. Do not get bangs. They won’t look good on you, they’ll drive you crazy, they look good on virtually no one, don’t do it.
“But me! Bangs will look good on me!” you say. No, no they won’t. Not even Michelle Obama, acknowledged Best Lady in All of America, could pull off bangs, so what makes you think you can? (Michelle is totally going to text Kate in a few weeks all, “Hey Duchess, I know what you’re going through. Let me know if you need tips or just a shoulder to cry on while you deal with this fiasco.”)
Bangs cut off your face, your wonderful, beautiful face, and make you look childlike and sad, all at the same time. They won’t flatter your best features, and if your goal for them is to hide your bad ones? Nope, that’s not happening either. Bangs make your forehead break out, which makes you try to hide your forehead with more bangs, which makes it even worse. Bangs often hide your eyes (which are lovely) and emphasize your nose, which throws all of the proportions of your face out of whack. And if you hate your forehead? Stop that, your forehead is great! If your goal is to de-emphasize how big it is (it isn’t too big, it’s fine) or just to add something new, some nice layers in the front are great! Do a nice sideswiped thing. That looks good on everyone, and is easily tucked away or brushed back. But bangs? No. Just don’t do it.
Aside from what they do to your face, bangs just look bad. They’re an adult version of a bowl cut in the front, no matter how long the rest of your hair is. Bangs manage to look frizzy and flat at the same time, even when the rest of your hair looks fine. Do you have curly hair? Oh God, that’s even worse. You’ll have to blow dry your bangs straight even when your hair dries naturally, or you’ll just have a puff ball sitting at the top of your forehead sticking straight in the air. In the summertime, or any other time you are likely to sweat, they’ll get stringy and damp and stick to your forehead (or stick straight up in the air).
Also, bangs take work. Are you having one of those “I woke up late, need to look presentable, I’ll just throw my hair in a topknot” kinds of days? Or a “Running to the grocery store on a Sunday but need to look halfway decent in case I run into my ex, so I’ll put it in a cute ponytail” day? Guess what? You still have to do something with your bangs. So you either have to take the extra time to perfect them, or slink out into the world and avoid mirrors all day.
And then, oh God, and then there is the growing out process. Once you come to your senses and realize that those bangs were a bad idea, hair grows unevenly, and so your bangs will grow out unevenly. So you have to keep deciding if you’re going to just let them be uneven or keep trimming them to even them up even though you just want them gone. You will always have to have at least five bobbie pins somewhere on your person, so that you can pin them back and then keep pinning them back when they slip out. Eventually you’ll resort to a headband, but that makes every adult woman look like a little girl. So you’ll go back to bobbie pins, until some well-meaning but misguided friend tells you that she LOVES bangs and she knows just the right way for you to style them. So you’ll let her convince you to trim them, and then you’re back in this hell all over again.
Yes yes, Zooey Deschanel looks cute and twee with her bangs. Are you as cute and twee as Zooey Deschanel? Do you have a hair stylist on call at all times to make sure your bangs are always as cute and twee and well-styled as Zooey Deschanel? The answers to both of the above need to be true — both Kate and Michelle have personal hair stylists for literally whenever they leave the house, and you saw how that turned out.
I know some of you never had to ask this question: bangs are part of you; you love them; you’re happy to put in all of the work to keep them looking perfect at all times; you never wondered if you should get them because you knew you would rock them. This piece isn’t for you. It’s for all of the people who constantly wonder if they should get bangs. Those people who ask their hairdresser once a year or so about bangs. Those people who want to do something different and they’re not sure what, so they think, “I know! Bangs!”
Don’t do it, friends. Learn from Kate and Michelle. Avoid bangs at all costs.
Jasmine Guillory is a lawyer and writer in Oakland, California.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.