The lasting trauma of growing out your bangs

CorrespondentJune 4, 2014 

Growing out my bangs was a defining experience of my childhood.

A child of the early ’80s, I had one of those unfortunate mushroom bowl cuts that was approximately the same length all the way around (you may know it as “The Dorothy Hamill”). I coveted the flowing ponytails and long, often permed locks of my friends, and by about the second grade, I had convinced my mom to let me grow my hair out.

But after a particularly unfortunate round of school pictures, my mother made a ruling that my near-mullet style of hair, past my shoulders in back and Dorothy Hamill bangs in the front, had to go. Mom was right. That was hideous. And thus, the growing out of the bangs commenced.

God love my un-hair-savvy mother. She stood by me every step of the way through this awkward middle school journey of growing my bangs the same length as the rest of my hair. Lucky for us it was the late ’80s/early ’90s by then, which made mom’s strategy of sweeping the odd length bangs into a side pony with a scrunchie and White Rain-ing any straggling pieces firmly against my head much more socially acceptable than it might be today.

She also sometimes employed what I like to call “The Poor Girl’s French Braid.” This is where you pull the top and front part of your hair back with a ponytail holder, then you pull some more hair toward the middle and back of your head back with another ponytail holder, and then finally you bring it all together by pulling the rest of your hair together at the nape of your neck, making a little trail of ponytail holders all the way down the back of the head.

It was terrible, but at least it made me look like I didn’t have bangs.

Shortly after graduating from college and entering the working world, I decided that I could no longer be bothered with serious time-wasters such as blow-drying and curling (or straightening) my hair, and decided to go short again (but not Dorothy Hamill short!)

Imagine my horror when my trusted hairstylist insisted that my new short hairdo should include – you guessed it – BANGS! I seriously considered making an appointment with a therapist to help me cope with the trauma of returning to that which I had spent the majority of my childhood trying to eradicate.

But I accepted my stylist’s advice and soldiered on.

My bangs still frustrate me sometimes, but I have found that sweeping them to the side and pinning them back with some kind of colorful, sparkly bobby pin is an effective and not-too-unfortunate-looking means of keeping them out of my face when I don’t feel like dealing with them. I’ve also accrued a pretty impressive collection of headbands over the years.

So don’t let the unpleasantness of growing out your bangs get you down, friends! Relief is just a few bobby pins (or can of White Rain) away!

Ellen Moss of Durham is an avid runner who writes The Fast and the Fabulous (, a blog that critiques workout apparel.

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