"Whatever you do during self-isolation, don't cut your hair". Uh, wrong. Could this actually be the best time to get the scissors out and carve out some DIY bangs? #pandemicbangs, anyone?
Bangs (as our American counterparts, and I, call the fringe) have the unfortunate reputation of being synonymous with some sort of mental breakdown, but I can assure you that is not what happened here. Cutting my own bangs was a very deliberate, thoughtful decision I made on day 1 of self-isolation as my mum yelled out the door “Two metres! Two metres! Two metres!” when I departed for my daily walk around a quiet suburban neighbourhood, and then “Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands!” when I returned.
I haven’t had a fringe since my emo phase of 2009 when it was very heavy and swept aside, always getting in my eyes and exasperating the patience of my hairdressers, who I’m sure were very tempted to protest my specific instructions for “extremely choppy layers, sweeping fringe”. After the cloud of “that” phase lifted, I realised I actually had a very small forehead – my forehead is about half the size of Rihanna’s – and every women’s magazine told me I didn’t suit bangs. But boy, did I like them a lot. My emo phase drifted slowly but precisely towards a then-unidentified “I’m Not Like Other Girls” phase, where Zooey Deschanel’s locks on New Girl and Alexa Chung’s Cool Girl curtain bangs were all I ever wanted in life. Back then though I was unable to shake the harrowing fringes of my childhood: straight across, blunt, uneven and incredibly unflattering. I couldn’t risk it.
But the prospect of being locked inside my own house for one month has put some things into perspective for me. When is the next day I’ll have to show my face in the office? In the most optimistic scenario, 22 April – four weeks away. Will there ever be a more perfect time to screw up your hair a little bit, let it grow indiscriminately, then slink back to the hairdressers in a months’ time to fix it with professional guidance? Maybe I could get serious about it – learn how to cut my hair at home, properly, and never have to pay $100 for a haircut again. I’m investing in my future here.
Thus, self-isolation bangs. This is the time for imperfection. If you are living with anyone, I highly recommend getting them to help you – sometimes having someone who can lean back for one minute, squint their eyes and see you for who you really are is indispensable, both in haircutting and in love. Force them to watch calm, reasonable “I Cut My Bangs” YouTube videos by people who know what they’re doing. Here are a few I watched. Do not watch the 12-minute compilation of people cutting their bangs at 2am and crying.
My crucial tip is to start small and then build up. Know what kind of bangs you want before you get the scissors out, but don’t feel bound to it – as things start to shape up, your desires will shift. I wanted long curtain bangs. Now I have short curtain bangs, with some wispy bits in the middle because this voice in my head wondered what I’d look like with my whole forehead covered.
Give yourself an allocated amount of time you can spend in front of the mirror “fixing things up” with scissors in your hands. I recommend five minutes at the most. Any more, and your bangs will be ruined by hubris. Although, as I say, if you did ruin them (accidentally gave yourself TERF bangs?), who cares. You’re stuck inside for four weeks, and they’ll grow. That is one immovable certainty.
I was prepared not to like my bangs. I didn’t wear eyeliner that day because I was sure I’d cry. I thought getting bangs and regretting them would make great internet content; a tear-filled word of warning, maybe.
But in fact, the worst possible thing happened. I actually really like my bangs, and now no one will see them for four weeks. God, what a fuck-up.