22 thoughts on “SNARK WEEK: Bangs

  1. I have absolutely no sources that support non-historical bangs. What I do have is footage of myself in various stages of bang-dom HATING it and trying to hide it: Headbands, bobby pins, braiding, whatever I can manage. They always seem like a good idea until the second they start falling into eyes and giving zits for days. So, basically I don’t get why anyone would do it from an aesthetic purpose, except to make someone look derpy… I mean “young.”
    They’re like the hair version of a bonnet. Done well, and in the right period, they can be cute. Everywhere else… DERP.

    1. Ugh, I meant to rant about that – how hard it is to put bangs up, so why would anyone cut bangs in their hair (for those “my hair is down” scenes) if you were only going to put it up when you styled it?

  2. I suspect that a lot of it is temperamental actresses who don’t want to mess up their modern hair and/or having a period hairstyle that takes time to grow out. Same deal with male actors who refuse to get a proper military haircut when playing military roles.

  3. Yeesh. Ekaterina Aleksandrovna, just because a hair style is in doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.

    As someone who didn’t have bangs even when it WAS in (I basically trim my hair when I have to, that’s it and it’s astonishing how I still sometimes don’t have enough for period-appropriate styles, especially ca. 1900), how is that picture of Rebecca de Mornay STILL giving me high-school flashbacks? That couldn’t get more nineties if it tried.

  4. This is kind of a ponder more than anything else, but I do wonder if improvements in metal technology and in the manufacture of scissors had much to do with women cutting their hair. I mean, scissors have to be sharp and resilient to cut human hair and I am wondering about precision technology.

    Anyway, enough rambling about scissors :)

  5. I’m going to say that bangs on some of the actresses has a lot to do with something my hairstylist said to me when I approached 40. “Bangs or Botox?” Bangs hide some of those forehead lines and take a few years off. (Obviously I chose the former.)

    1. Ugh, no. As a certified Woman of a Certain Age, I find bangs to look not “youthful” but “juvenile” on anyone over 12. Embrace the lines life gave you! Subvert the dominant beauty paradigm!

    2. Got the bangs in my 40s because one forehead line was…not nice. Once I had enuf wrinkles, I grew my hair out. Then….the passport photo from hell. It turns out, the bangs make the face look a little rounder. I have bangs again.

      1. Yup. My bangs are face-shape-related. I have a long, narrow face and unflatteringly high forehead. And one particular scar on my forehead I prefer not to advertise. So bangs help a lot with both of these. The rest of my hair is also only ever chin length so it really doesn’t look juvenile, more mid-century modern.

  6. Since hair cutting was used as a medical treatment for most of history, to be seen with shorn hair was a mark of illness or shame. It was a scandal that Marie Antoinette’s hair dresser had cut her hair to hide the fact she had very thin hair. It was one of the many things used against her during the revolution.

  7. Thank you for the research and the pictures–about 90% of which were brand-new to me! Philippine von Edelsberg took my breath away. How come my hair never does that?

  8. And one of my history professors mentioned how after the French Revolution alot of women took to wearing shortish hair with bangs or hair cut in layers (sort of) with bangs bc when some women were being prepared for the guillotine, they chopped off their hair.

  9. You’ve likely never heard of “Fame and Fashion” (a 1960s fashion history film using real genuine antique clothing from the Paulise de Bush collection on live models) but I used to know Atherton Harrison (may she RIP), the curator/art director, whose husband Harvey was the producer, and she said that they used liquid soap to make the models’ super-fashionable 1960s bangs stay in appropriately centre parted/off the face styles…..

    1. And trust me, nobody was going to say no to Atherton with liquid soap in hand. The only person who got away with defying her was a young Vivien Leigh in (I think) 1937 who revelled against the beautiful and flattering orange gown Atherton had picked out for her to play Anne Boleyn, and instead wore a rented, stiff, unflattering cream furnishing velvet gown for the production of Henry VIII…

  10. I was curious about bangs in mid-to-late 19th century America because I sketchily remembered Laura Ingalls Wilder writing a long, descriptive passage where she made a big deal about cutting her own.

    Upon refreshing my memory I found a) she didn’t cut hers until 1882 at the age of 15, and b) what she describes as bangs are actually 2″ wisps she curls with an improvised heated slate pencil. She wouldn’t have full true bangs until 10 years later.

    I do find it interesting she was only the second girl in town to attempt bangs of any kind, and both her parents poked fun at her for wanting that “lunatic fringe.” It just goes to show how truly uncommon bangs were in rural America, even by the 1880s, and how it was viewed by older adults as a dumb teenage fad.

    So all that is simply to confirm yes, there is no heckin’ way that a mature Civil War era woman would ever have had full 1890s bangs, let alone floofy 1980s bangs. No way. No how.

    1. I remember that scene from the books! She’s really just trimming the wispy breakage around her hairline. Nothing like 20th century bangs — didn’t those start around the time of bobbed hair?

      1. She does mention that Mary Powell, her friend and inspiration, has thick bangs though, but she’s clear that she’s not going to go that far.

  11. How do we feel about Hattie Morahan’s bangs in 08 Sense & Sensibility? Since I saw some in there from 1800 or so I give it a pass, also because Hattie looks so good with them. She’s just beautiful in general and (unrelated) I loved the darker tones they put her in. Not really Georgian, but really refreshing compared to the usual snow white color pallet Austen heroines usually get.

  12. I do wonder if the elderly Elizabeth I’s wisps were precisely because she was wearing a wig and her hairdresser needed to disguise the edge? And if Queenie had wisps, you can bet that all the ladies at her court would have to have them as well.

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