Can Celebrities Prove Bangs Don't Have to Be That Deep?

Perhaps we're finally seeing the style for what it is: just another haircut.

a collage of Julia Roberts, lana del rey and Rihanna with bangs and short hair
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Earlier this spring, needs-no-introduction icon Rihanna and I, a lowly fashion and beauty editor, had the exact same thought at roughly the same time: Maybe I should get bangs.

I don’t know why the Fenty mogul debuted blunt, blonde bangs in April. I can only speak for myself. What feels like my entire Instagram feed and half of Hollywood has recently gone the fringe route, convincing me by sheer exposure to join in.

Here's a long, but non-exhaustive, list of celebrities who've chopped their hair straight across their foreheads and persuaded me to book a haircut in the process. Zendaya clipped in bangs to her honey-gold ponytail for a stop on the Challengers tour in London. Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway added feathery fringe to their long, brunette curls for recent press, while Kerry Washington, Ashley Graham, and Sydney Sweeney tried bangs of various textures and lengths at the 2024 Met Gala. (Sweeney's, we know now, was a wig.) At the Cannes Film Festival last week, Michelle Yeoh arrived on the carpet with fresh blonde bangs to complement her off-the-runway Balenciaga outfit. Selena Gomez also appeared at Cannes with long curtain bangs brushed and curled on either side of her red carpet ponytail.

Zendaya wearing bangs at the Challengers premiere in London

Zendaya test-drove a pair of blonde bangs for a Challengers event in London.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's not just celebrities who are into the face-framing cut. Hairstylists and online beauty outlets are calling spring the season of “Bardot bangs.” When I eventually went to Davida Salon on Manhattan's Upper East Side to try them for myself (and, however dubiously, for journalism), my stylist told me “everyone” is coming for appointments with bang inspiration images in tow.

Bangs are having enough of a moment that they made me wonder if celebrities can beat the worst allegations against them for good. You've heard the jokes: When someone gets bangs, certain corners of pop culture say, there's something wrong with the person who got them. Or, they're grounds for immediate regret. In 2013, then-First Lady Michelle Obama referred to her bangs as a sign of a "midlife crisis." Then there's the titular Emily of Emily in Paris, who reacts to a breakup by whipping out her scissors and giving herself a haircut friends call “trauma bangs” for the rest of the latest season.

"Trauma bangs" as a term has wriggled its way everywhere from Cindy Crawford's haircut tests on Instagram to reviews of bang-trimming scissors on sites like The Strategist. In Funny Story, an Emily Henry romantic comedy at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List this month, bangs are the butt of an offhand joke between the plucky protagonist and her coworker. "I get sick of having bangs four days after getting them," she says. “Well," her friend replies, "that’s everyone.”

Kerry Washington brought choppy, short bangs to the 2024 met gala

At the 2024 Met Gala, Kerry Washington showed off a shorter haircut with choppy bangs.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nearly as soon as I noticed a rise in bang haircuts, examples of their detractors started to play on a mental loop in my mind. I began to worry what getting bangs would silently convey, even though I genuinely wanted them. Would people look at my new haircut and think I was getting divorced or flailing professionally? Are bangs a harbinger of internal doom? If someone as poised as Michelle Obama once regretted her bangs, surely there was no hope for me loving mine.

Still, I crowdsourced on Instagram Stories for feedback from recent inductees into bang-wearing society before sitting down in the stylist's chair. Maybe if people outside Hollywood were actually getting them, and feeling good, I could be reassured.

Bangs really are just a haircut, not license for a sanity check. Why assume the chop is reactionary to begin with? There's only one inference to make when someone gets bangs: They like the style enough to wear it.

Around thirty fashion colleagues and long-lost college classmates replied to my outreach, ready to gush over (and defend) their haircuts. A friend in Paris said she’d just gotten the chop and couldn’t imagine her face without it from the other side. Another in Washington, D.C. said her wife has grown to like her bangs even more than her previous hairstyle.

Fashion editor Cortne Bonilla describes the bangs she recently adopted as "a sign of me returning to my most authentic self." After growing them out over the Covid pandemic and her wedding, Bonilla looked in the mirror and didn't quite recognize who she saw. When she brought back her old haircut, bangs and all, a friend said she "looked like herself again."

writer Halie LeSavage gets bangs (left) and shows off her final haircut (right)

I didn't feel traumatized or regretful by the time my stylist at Davida Salon and I sat down for my haircut (left). I couldn't stop smiling then and now.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Halie LeSavage)

Trauma or regret? A few respondents to my unofficial survey admitted they'd kept their intentions to get bangs a secret before the chop, worried that it would be interpreted as A Sign. But on the other side, the most out of pocket question one friend received was whether she meant to copy longtime bang-wearer Taylor Swift.

All those conversations reinforced what I was already hoping: Bangs really are just a haircut, not license for a sanity check. Why assume the chop is reactionary to begin with? There's only one inference to make when someone gets bangs: They like the style enough to wear it. And if they don't, they'll say so (and change it).

This isn't to say that bangs aren't always emotionless and trend-driven like they were in my case. Aura Friedman, a celebrity hair colorist and stylist I reached out to for extra bang advice, has shepherded clients like Zoë Kravitz and SooJoo Park through dramatic color and length changes. “Sometimes [a dramatic haircut] is a rebirth and reinvention,” she tells me. “We all deserve the grace to flow, evolve, and adjust. We also all deserve the grace of having the ability to express ourselves through hair, clothing, and fashion—it’s fun!”

Michelle Yeoh at Cannes with choppy bangs

Michelle Yeoh arrived on the Cannes Film Festival red carpet this week with a new haircut on display: medium-length blonde hair and bangs that skimmed her eyebrows.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rihanna wearing blonde bangs at the fenty 2024 launch party

Rihanna, my own impetus to try bangs, revealed them at a Fenty event in April. She's since grown them out into a side-parted, longer style in recent weeks.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I didn't necessarily need a rebirth, but I did feel confident enough in what I'd heard to get the haircut I wanted. So I eventually walked into the salon around the corner from my Manhattan apartment with a few reference images—Julia, Anne, Daisy Edgar Jones, Dakota Johnson—and a promise that I wouldn't let my stylist, Michelle, talk me out of it.

Any lingering worries were unnecessary: Michelle actually asked why I hadn't considered bangs sooner. By the end of our hour together, she'd sectioned, snipped, and blow-dried what was once long, side-parted hair into a medium-length cut with longer bangs that brushed the tops of my eyelids. I'm usually stone-faced in the salon chair, but I smiled at us both in the mirror the entire time. I liked how my bangs drew attention to my eyes, and how they complemented the '70s leaning nature of my Dôen-dress filled, vintage-inspired wardrobe. How could I care if anyone thought this cut was the sign of a crisis? I was the one switching up my hair just for the thrill of it, and I was having fun.

Ashley Graham on the met gala red carpet wearing an updo with bangs

Ashley Graham also used the 2024 Met Gala to experiment with bangs: in her case, short, almost spiky fringe.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Anne Hathaway wears a ponytail with bangs at 'The Idea of You' premiere

For every stop of her The Idea of You press tour, Anne Hathaway wore fluffy bangs trimmed just above her eyes.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's been a few weeks since I first took stock of all the women getting bangs this spring and joined them. The reactions have been pretty positive, if I say so myself. My husband told me they're cute and my friends said they're a natural fit. If they're lying, they're doing it well.

My bangs aren't nearly as glossy as Rihanna's or evenly distributed as Anne Hathaway's. Some days, they're so unruly in the late-May wind that I have to pull them back with a headband. But when they cooperate, I love them. (All credit for good bang days belongs to my Dyson AirWrap and Crown Affair dry shampoo.) More importantly, I don't regret them a bit.

Beating any trauma allegations will take time, exposure, and a good attitude when people ask what possessed me to pick up the scissors—because they have, in fact, asked. When I FaceTimed my mom after my appointment, she said what every daughter with a new haircut hopes to hear: “Are you crazy?!” A not-unkind journalist across from me at a dinner last week also wondered if I got them because I "wanted a fresh start."

I could laugh it all off because I know bangs are not a sign of distress; they're a sign that I'm doing what I want with my hair. (And, maybe, that I'm a little gullible where celebrity trends are concerned.) It doesn't need to be deeper than that.

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.