By: Jenna Niemeyer
For my whole childhood, I had bangs. I remember how they used to cover my eyes when I tilted my head down to read books. They hid me, and I liked it. The bangs were my invisibility cloak, and being unnoticed became my superpower.
Then, in 4th grade, I decided, due to emerging fashion trends of my fellow 10-year-old girlfriends, that it was time to let my bangs grow out. I was the only one with bangs in my class, and I was made fun of for it. I felt like my invisibility had worn off, and the next best option was to grow out my bangs so I would blend in among all the other long-haired girls. When the bangs finally grew out, family members would comment about how round my face looked without them, and how round the rest of me was too. I craved to have the bangs back, to be invisible again. But I had made the choice, and I was determined to stick with it so that my “friends” wouldn’t ridicule me anymore.
Suddenly, I was in college. I was 20, but inside, I started feeling 10 again. I was self-conscious; of my body, my intelligence, and my personality. I had the grown-out hair, I had the makeup techniques and the style trends perfected, but still, I felt insufficient and like the 10-year-old that wasn’t up to par. On a whim, I decided to change the way I was feeling, starting with who I was on the outside. I was done being another one of the grown-out hair girls; I wanted to be me again.
I sat in a cold fake leather chair and started feeling the beginnings of nervous sweat beading on my forehead. “Are you sure you want to do this?” my hairdresser asked. “Yes; cut it. Before I change my mind” I whispered quietly, not looking up at the mirror so that she wouldn’t see the fear in my eyes. She came around to the front of the chair, and after lining up my hair, I closed my eyes and heard the snipping of her scissors, each contact sounding like a drum in my ears.
After what felt like years, she told me to look. I looked in the mirror, and I didn’t see a grown-out hair girl anymore; I saw Jenna. She was 4, concentrating on Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham; She was 7, reading Junie B. Jones with her mom; She was 9, obsessed with the adventures of the Baudelaire children in A Series of Unfortunate Events; she was 10, crying silently as she made it to the end of Charlotte’s Web in the back of her 4th grade classroom; and finally, beyond all of these other things, she was 20, feeling more herself than she had in a decade.
I paid for the haircut, and once I got to my car, I sat in the silent darkness of the winter night. I felt a tear roll down my cheek, and I realized, that after everything that had happened to me in the past 10 years, this was the thing that was going to resurrect me. I wasn’t going to use these bangs as my invisibility cloak anymore. No, instead, these bangs were going to make everyone see me. And beyond that, I was going to let everyone hear me.
It’s been exactly a month since I became Jenna again, and I have more confidence than I ever had before. I state my opinions, without having to be asked. I don’t let my fear silence me, and I don’t let myself hide behind what is popular or “stylish.” I feel fulfilled simply by being the girl with the bangs.