It is a truth universally acknowledged that I love Halloween. Using my skills to turn myself into different people is an escapist fantasy, sure. But it also encourages me to take a hard look at the decisions I make with my normal beauty routine. Even when we’re not in costume, we’re still making choices about how we want the world to see us. As RuPaul says, you’re born naked and the rest is drag.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asking myself “What’s my regular Alle drag saying to the world?” One of the main things it says is “Alle has sharp bangs.”
I’ve had bangs for so long that I don’t even think about them anymore; they’re a fixture of my face, like my eye color or the shape of my lips.
I love having a fringe. My blunt bangs provide a great frame for my face and they make me feel confident. Or I thought they did. As I’ve been experimenting with different hairstyles for Halloween, I’ve been realizing that what they actually make me feel is SAFE. When I push my bangs off my face or style them to the side, I feel exposed--like I’ve accidentally gone outside without my pants on. Recently I’ve been forced to admit that, as much as I like them, my bangs have become a beauty security blanket. And for a while, I wasn’t sure where that was coming from.
I like myself. I like how I look. What am I hiding with a blunt fringe? The answer was right there: my high forehead.
What’s wrong with my high forehead? I asked myself. And the answer was right there again: childhood trauma.
I didn’t have a great time growing up. I was bullied for everything, particularly the way that I looked. The day that a certain group of kids learned the word “fivehead” sent me running home from school in tears. Even though it’s been over 20 years, I still haven’t forgotten the sting in “You could watch movies on that ugly forehead!” and other poetic insults.
So bangs it was. I liked the way they looked on me from the start, but most importantly, they covered up something I’d started to hate about myself. I was still picked on, but hey, nobody was calling me an alien anymore! Progress!
Since then, I’ve had bangs almost constantly. I’ve grown them out a few times, but whenever I do, I feel like my face is WRONG. I wish I could say that this is a classic Brain Problem and I just need to get used to it, but it’s more than that: I don’t like people being able to see my forehead. I'm insecure about it. Whenever I do a look featuring my hair pushed back or upswept, I worry that I’ve opened the door to new and inventive forehead-based insults.
Even though I genuinely love my bangs, this hairstyle has ceased to be an aesthetic choice for me--it’s become a beauty crutch, an irrational talisman that I feel like I need to survive. And I’m not OK with that. If any of you told me that you felt like you couldn’t have the hairstyle you wanted because you "need" to hide your forehead, I would give you the Coach Taylor-est motivational pep talk of your life.
It’s time for a change. I’m growing out my bangs. That feels so scary and exciting to even write, because as I hope you’ve picked up on, this isn’t just a hairstyle change for me.
The way we look is absolutely bound up in the way that we feel about ourselves, and if my tale of conflicted fringe-feelings shows you anything, it’s that this relationship is never simple. We all have insecurities, and that is ok. The point is that we make the effort to grow and fight against them.
So here’s me, breaking my dependence on my biggest beauty security blanket. I have no idea how this is going to go, and the not-knowing is almost as scary as the idea of not having bangs anymore. What if I hate it? What if it drives me totally crazy while it's growing out?
And if worst comes to worst and I don’t like how no-bangs looks, I can always cut them back in again. One way or another, it’ll be a choice that I’VE made, because I’m not letting childhood insecurities dictate my beauty choices anymore.
- So tell me: Do you have any beauty security blankets?
- Do they help or hinder your insecurities?
- Anyone have any growing-out-bangs tips to make this process less crazy-making? HELP!