While the rest of the world was busy looking at dresses on the Emmy’s red carpet, I was looking at foreheads. I couldn’t help myself. I was transfixed. They were sending me such an insistent signal it would have been rude to turn my attention elsewhere.
“BANGS ARE BACK,” they shouted from the rooftops of Sofia Vergara’s cranium. “Not just any bangs, though,” they whispered shortly thereafter. As I fielded similar cranial communications from Jane Fonda, Robin Wright, Tanika Ray, Renée Bargh and Rashida Jones, it became very clear what kind of bangs comeback we were dealing with here…
School Picture Day Bangs! I repeat: School Picture Day Bangs. This is not a drill. (Although you likely sported this hairdo during a fire drill or two).
Allow me to break down the various types of bangs, because context is important here:
“It” Girl Bangs
These are the bangs you pin to your Pinterest board and subsequently show to your hairdresser after you walk into the salon and say, “I think…I think I want bangs.” They are sexy in that very particular, offbeat way that only the protagonist of an indie romantic comedy can conjure, although Instagram It Girls come very close.
Micro-Fringe Bangs are “It” Girl Bangs’ edgier, artsier cousin. They’re about a third of the length, and they sort of look like a mistake, but in a good way. Beyoncé flirted with this style in 2014 and almost broke the internet; other noteworthy micro-fringe perpetuators include Rooney Mara in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.
2000s’ Side-Swept Bangs
Given the low-rise skinny jeans comeback lurking on the horizon, I wouldn’t be surprised if side-swept bangs rode the 2000’s resurrection right back onto our scalps, but for now they’re still tucked safely away where they belong: on the covers of your old Avril Lavigne and Mariah Carey CDs.
I think this scene from Girls says it all.
School Picture Day Bangs
— Complex (@Complex) September 4, 2014
School Picture Day Bangs are bangs with an exclamation point. They are the bang-iest bangs in town: polished, poofy, try-hard, unapologetic and ready for their close-up. They are the bangs your mom painstakingly combed the morning before you toddled off to your place of education, waited in line, sat down on a stool, posed in front of a charming solid-blue backdrop and said “cheese” for a photographer. Your two front teeth were probably missing, but that’s neither here nor there.
I was surprised at first to see them popping up on glamorous actresses’ faces at a red carpet event, but after giving it some thought, I realized it makes perfect sense. We’re living in an era in which irony, memes, nostalgia, awkwardness and try-hard chic are calling the shots. Of course the dorkiest iteration of forehead hair would be brought out of childhood retirement accordingly.
I hope School Picture Day Outfits start trending next.
Feature photo by Mark Davis/CBS via Getty Images.