Let’s talk about bangs.
My relationship with bangs is long standing and of the love-hate variety. When I was young and had no say in the way my hair was styled, my mother gave me bangs; since reaching the age of hair autonomy, I’ve tried just about every bang in the book and have come to the realization that bangs are kind of a big deal. In general, a woman’s hair is a huge part of her perceived identity, and whether we admit it or not, there are connotations entrenched in every hairstyle (and bang style) that are, nine times out of ten, parallel to the image a woman wants to project. Which is where the love and hate comes in, because in the past I’ve thought that bangs ain’t no thang, and have subsequently chosen bangs that I thought looked great when they were on other people, but that didn’t fit with the image I had cultivated for myself. It’s a rookie mistake that needs not be made if you know your bangs.
Let’s break it down now.
Also known as The Big Bang. The extreme density of The Zooey allows little, if any, forehead to be seen, is generally cut right at the eyebrow line and is slightly tapered at the edges, and constitutes a 1:1 bang to face ratio. We can thank Ms. Deschanel for single-handedly reviving and popularizing The Big Bang, rescuing it from the clutches of Dolly Parton and other bouffanted country singers.
See: Zooey Deschanel
The Baby Bangs
As their name would suggest, baby bangs are the smallest of the bang family and are generally cut closer to the hair line than to the eyebrows, leaving at least half of the forehead exposed. This look often signifies a propensity for the artsy and a desire for aesthetic edginess, but sometimes simply signifies one’s inability to cut their own bangs.
See: Shannyn Sossamon Sossamon, Zoe Kravitz, Lady Gaga
As they are easy to grow out, The Wispy is the most common bang for girls who want to test the waters without committing to bangs long-term. The cut is like The Zooey, but 1/10th as dense so that much of the forehead can still be seen. Bang purists would likely call them an abomination.
See: Jessica Alba, Olivia Wilde, Mad About You-era Helen Hunt
The Bettie Page
Made popular by the eponymous vixen pinup, The Bettie Page is making a comeback within the enclave of twenty-something vintage and retro devotees. The bang density is slightly less than The Zooey and the edges turn slightly upward, and it can be curled to create a voluminous pouf. It conveys sweetness with a hint of mischievousness, which explains why it suits Katy Perry so well.
See: Bettie Page (duh), Katy Perry, Dita von Teese
The Side Sweep
Easily the most universally accessible type of bang. Sported by hipsters and fashionistas alike, The Side Sweep features either a left- or right-part that allows the bangs to be swept to one side, and can be seen in varying end lengths from eyebrow to cheekbone. Favored for their low maintenance and because they’re flattering on most all faces, The Side Sweep has carved out its place in the realm of bangs as The People’s Champion. Just like Seabiscuit.
See: Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Richie, Carrie Underwood
The Eye Visor
Also known as The Blunt Bang. These bangs are cut straight across and just below the eyebrows, and are most often very thick with minimal forehead visibility. The way it frames the face creates a mostly demure and classy look, but can also create a visor effect that is vaguely reminiscent of Geordi La Forge from Star Trek. The latter is obviously the look you should strive for.
See: Camilla Belle, Rose Byrne, Lady Gaga circa 2008
Most frequently donned by girls with curly hair who are either a) too lazy to straighten their bangs, or b) recognize that straight bangs paired with curly hair looks kind of weird. The Curlies are au natural, one part liberation and one part wildabeast.
See: Beyonce, Victoria LeGrand, Minnie Driver
Moral of the story, you should choose your bangs like you choose a mate: with great discernment, not making your decision based solely on looks, but by taking into consideration how your future goals might merge, and whether or not you are both fully committed to working together toward a healthy and lasting union based on mutual respect and understanding. Or something.