I got bangs last week (a fringe, for my British friends) in what I believe some might call a ‘self-own’. Since having the baby my once-luxe curls have thinned and straightened. This is, I have learned, not that uncommon: all of those hormones can uncoil your hair, or wind it up. Whatever it’s not used to.
You’d think I’d be delighted by this. Over the years of my life that I’ve had curly hair (about 20, the curls broke out around the time I started college) I’ve purchased countless products and probably at least ten heated styling tools in an attempt to straighten it. Twice shelled out hundreds of dollars on terrifying chemical straightening. But now that my hair is naturally flat, well, of course it just makes me feel like not myself.
Bangs are not me, either, but I decided that I might as well lean in to my limp coif, try something different, even though my friend K wisely told me that the postpartum bang is a mistake she’d made so I wouldn’t have to. Even though I knew that I wouldn’t like the bangs.
And I don’t. I watched the hair fall to the floor in one swoop of my stylists’ scissors and I thought: Damn. When the blowdry was finished I looked in the salon mirror and thought: I should not have gotten bangs! I had bangs in middle school, they were terrible, I worked hard when I was in my freshman year of high school to grow them out, pinned them back with those snappy metal barrettes.
You get a free bang trim in between cuts! my lovely stylist said, and I thought, I’m absolutely not going to do that! On the train home, I looked at women without bangs and felt raw envy. They were so chic. I thought: I used to be chic.
And yet. When I think about my life before becoming a mother, I don’t feel a great deal of loss — I really wanted to be a mother, I was fortunate to have a lot of free time and freedom before becoming a mother, I really enjoy being a mother. I miss seeing my friends as much as I’d like to, but I feel OK about the restaurants I’m not going to.
But maybe what I do long for, just a touch, is the freedom to exercise poor judgment without causing someone else harm or discomfort or inconvenience. I guess that’s why I got bangs.
New Yorkers — on Monday night I’m giving a talk about writing memoir at Sayers and Doers in Harlem. Come along!