I cut my bangs again today to be a little chunkier and a little straighter. My bangs have basically been swept to the side since early high school, when my mom still cut my hair and she accidentally trimmed too much by my face. Suddenly it was WOAH, okay, bangs now. Probably one of the best accidents of my life because honestly, I feel like I don’t look great without bangs these days. I believe the word my boyfriend used for it was “weird.” Anyway, I don’t know if you know, but this chunky thing is a big deal.
There’s not a whole lot that can be done with smooth, straight Asian hair, so I guess bangs is as exciting as I get. I tried dying my hair a reddish brown a couple times in high school, and I must swear to never go back to that place. I look young with really short hair; my mom gave me an asymmetrical bob in elementary school and the memories still haunt me. Curling it is kind of a pain in the ass because it falls limp even with hairspray, and when it’s layered, it slips out of braids and other fun hairstyles so easily that it’s like WHY EVEN BOTHER.
The whole idea that clever layering is the best you can do with Asian hair seemed to be confirmed the first time an Asian woman was on America’s Next Top Model. Tyra et al barely changed the model’s long, layered locks during the makeover process, and she was all “WTF? This is it? This is all you can do?” Which on one hand, whatever, you already have rockin’ locks grl, but on the other hand, you go on the show expecting to have Tyra Banks tell you how to be prettier during a mad makeover and then WOMP you coulda did what she did in your bathroom on a Friday night.
For Asian ladies, you’re basically always winning and always losing with your hair. So many stereotypes are attached to it, both ultra-positive and somewhat negative—I think that’s why I’ve thought so much about how to make mine different. The extent to which I’ve thought about hair has been richly documented by oral means (hehe), which basically means my friends and I have chit-chatted a lot. One friend suggested I ditch the sidesweep and go full on chunky straight bang. But for a long time, chunky straight bangs on an Asian woman signified FOBiness to me. It struck an image of someone who wasn’t quite up on America yet, emphasizing her Asianness. I said this to her even though I had seen beautiful, decidedly “Western”-dressing Asian women with chic chunky bangs. I couldn’t go through with it myself.
When I dyed my hair in high school, my friends told me I look Korean, because the stereotype is that Korean girls dye their hair lighter colors, not Chinese ones. And many Asians and Asian-Americans—not just women—will tell you that they try to fight looking so young for their age for various reasons. So I really can’t cut it too short, lest I look too young. But what if I grow it out too long? Will that make me look young too? Basically hair has always been my biggest daily branding weapon. It’s kind of a big deal.
Ultimately, you gotta hope that people look past your hair and see into your soul, or whatever Bono’s saying these days. My wonderful co-blogger BC is finally moving past her own internal debate about hair this weekend and taking a risk by chopping her long hair off into a posh—and Posh Spice?—bob. She has literally been talking to me about this since freshman year of college, so I am very proud that she’s finally going for it. On my end, finally snipping my obnoxiously long bangs into a chunky fringe was my personal hair branding change. It feels different, even if looks about the same.
And all things said, it’s just hair. It’ll grow out.