Let me preface this by saying that I did not cut my own hair.
I’ve wanted bangs for a while. Actually, I’m not sure if I wanted bangs as much as I was curious to see what I would look like with them. But regardless, the desire was there, and it’s been there since this past summer.
When I was three years old, I stole a pair of safety scissors, hid behind the couch in my living room and cut my own hair. I don’t really know what I was trying to achieve, but despite the intent, I gave myself the worst haircut possible. When my mom took me to the hairdresser in an attempt to fix it, I left with bangs and a bob cut. I looked exactly like Dora the Explorer. All of my classmates called me Dora, and as a result, I was terrified of bangs for 15 years.
But then I arrived at NYU two years ago, and bangs were everywhere. Have you ever seen a Gallatin student? Have you ever walked through the Tisch building? Bangs are everywhere. And not only are bangs everywhere at NYU, but they (usually) look good.
With fear comes a certain curiosity. I’ve been afraid of clowns since my brother told me about Stephen King’s “IT” at nine years old, but that didn’t stop me from periodically rereading the plot summary of the book on Wikipedia, and then reading the plot summary of the new movie adaptation and then eventually watching the remake itself, even though it gave me nightmares for weeks.
Which is why I decided to get bangs.
I was still a bit scared, though. You can’t uncut bangs — I’d learned that the hard way when I was three years old. What if I finally gave in to the desire, only for them to just look bad? Then I’d have to wait four months for them to grow in, and that would be four months of me just looking stupid. I didn’t want to risk that.
There was also the possibility that everyone would think I’d lost my mind. Bangs have a certain reputation for being the haircut one gets when they’re severely irrational, and I didn’t want people making judgements about my mental health, regardless of how irrational I actually am. What if everyone just thought I was unhinged?
But all of that changed on Friday, March 20.
On Friday, March 20, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted that all “barber shops, nail & hair salons, tattoo shops, & similar services” would close in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania two days later at 8 p.m.
I thought about it for a moment. I had two main fears when it came to bangs: I was scared that they’d look bad and I was scared that everyone would think that I was having an episode. But if my bangs looked bad I could just turn my Zoom camera off until they grew in, and everyone was losing their minds under quarantine anyway. With that solution in mind, I immediately booked an appointment.
Two hours later, I was sitting in a salon chair with my hair freshly washed and one of those weird nylon capes snapped around my neck. I slightly resembled a drowned rat and was very ready to change my appearance. My stylist, Lisa, examined my head carefully. Lisa also had bangs, so I trusted her a little more.
The process itself was pretty uneventful. Lisa told me that I have very thin hair and then cut a lot of it off. She also told me that I have a lot of split ends, so we agreed to use a flat-iron to tame them.
But because my hair was now stick-straight, I had no way of knowing what my bangs actually looked like. Hair is longer when it’s straighter. My bangs were just a little too long, but I didn’t know if that was because they’d been flattened, or because they were actually too long. Lisa and I sat for about five minutes, debating whether she should cut them shorter or if I should wait to see what happened when I washed my hair.
We ended up deciding to wait, and keep my hair straight. I caught a glimpse of myself in the salon’s full-length mirror on my way out the door and realized that I strongly resembled Wendy Torrance from “The Shining.” I didn’t really know if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but I knew it was better than looking like a drowned rat.
Right now, it’s been six days since I got bangs. After I washed my hair for the first time, I was so scared of how it’d look that I went straight to bed without looking in the mirror once. But I’m actually pretty happy with my new haircut — my bangs frame my face well, and I like the way I look now more than I did a week ago. (If you don’t like the way I look, please don’t tell me. I can’t do anything about it for the next four months.)
Perception, however, has been the hardest part. I didn’t know that quarantine bangs were going to be a trend, though I probably should have predicted it. I’ve seen countless articles, listicles and TikToks on how to cut your own bangs since I’ve gotten mine. Hair is one of the things you can maintain control over, and in a time like this, people want to maintain control. But while I definitely expected people to think that I’d lost it, I didn’t think perception would be this bad. I guess I just had bad timing.
So for the last time, let me emphasize: I did not cut my own hair.
Email Abby Hofstetter at [email protected]