I am a vain human being.
This is a truth that I fought for years: At twelve, I was one of those girls who stubbornly maintained that I ‘wasn’t like other girls’ yet funneled all of my energies into recreating Avril Lavigne’s skatepunk trainwreck of a look to the best of my raised-strictly-Catholic abilities. At fifteen, I woke up half an hour early every day to meticulously apply too-orange foundation and shimmery violet eye shadow, tying ribbons at the bases of my ponytails and saying, “Oh, this? It’s nothing” whenever anyone marveled at my strange appearance. At eighteen, I spent frantic, sweaty hours rifling through consignment shop stock to find the exact right tops and skirts despite my insistences that I ‘didn’t really care what I wore’.
Now, though, I embrace it. I’ve realized that vain doesn’t equal shallow, and that it’s lazy and boring to assume that a well-groomed woman is either of the two. I know that it’s vanity and not a concern for my health that keeps me going to the gym, and I’ve made my peace with that.
But I haven’t made my peace with my bangs.
I got bangs on a whim three months ago, and they were cute at first: just wispy, side-swept strands of hair that looked darling in a ponytail. Of course, what wasn’t cute was the new ritual of round-brush blow drying that had to happen every morning, but I was reckless. I was foolhardy. I was drunk on the prospect of change, and I wanted more.
So I went to a different stylist and asked for ‘longer, deeper bangs’, explaining that I wanted them to look chic and sophisticated instead of fluffy and young. She did an amazing job, delivering banged excellence and even showing me a quicker, better way to blow dry that would have them falling straight down.
It was great! I had bangs! I did it! I looked cool!
… For two weeks.
After that, I was constantly shaking them out of my eyes, blowing aggravatedly up into my forehead when a simple waterlogged-dog wag of the head wouldn’t do. They were too short for bobby pins and too thick for a microbraid. They were growing out enough to start having a wave, which is the natural, rebellious state of my hair: a slight kinked wave, not enough to be romantic but just enough to be confusing. I didn’t need Orie’s piteous, silent ‘I told you so’ eyes to know the truth: I had made a grave mistake.
I think all girls know it. We at least have that one good friend who uneasily says, ‘Are you sure?’ when we announce boldly that we want bangs. Jessica told me not to get them, reminding me that I hated the commitment of ‘touch up’ trips to the salon and actually putting effort into my hair. “You’re gonna be sick of them in, like, a month,” she warned in her best imitation of our mothers. In return, I think I snapchatted her a hastily scribbled pictograph of a penis. I am sweet like that.
Now, my bangs and I have a begrudging truce. Two days out of the week, I try to hide my poor decisions with a small army of bobby pins; the other three weekdays, they get to flop free, sideswept and fluffy, just like I hate. They age me down about four years, a problem since I’m already one of the youngest (if not the youngest) employees at my office. They also look especially ridiculous with my glasses, which I have to wear all day since 99% of my job is staring at a computer screen and making words. In short, the bangs have won. I am enslaved until they grow out, which probably won’t be until sometime in 2020. I just hope I can resist the siren call to ‘get them cleaned up’ until then.
And in the meantime, if you don’t have a Jessica in your life, I will fill that void for you with this important message: If you are lazy like me, Don’t Get Bangs. Also, here’s a snapchatted drawing of a dong.