Throughout my entire life, having a big forehead has been something I have considered a defining asset. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been told by those around me that women with big foreheads need bangs to offset this facial feature. It’s one of the first things that people notice about me, and there’s no denying that it stands out against my otherwise small, petite face.
I’ll never forget the first time having a large forehead actually started to impact my self esteem. I was walking down a hallway in high school when I decided to try to wear a headband for the first time, pulling the rest of my locks into a ponytail. A friend took one look at me from across the hall and standing just a few feet away yelled, “Damn, look at that forehead! Sheesh, cover that thing up.” Even though the person was genuinely my buddy at the time and didn't intend for their comment to be so insulting, it simply was. My confidence took a big hit that day and, mortified, all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball.
A couple of weeks later, I couldn’t handle how self conscious I had become. Knowing the only thing I could really do for myself would be to get a haircut with bangs, I took the plunge. I asked my hairdresser for straight-across bangs and she willingly obliged, saying that the fringe would make my forehead look smaller. Although she probably never knew it, she confirmed the suspicion I had been cultivating: There was something wrong with the way I looked.
I’m not going to lie: At first, I loved the bangs. They made me feel amazing — like I could finally walk around without fearing judgment. People would be able to focus on my hair and not on the feature I was attempting to hide. That being said, it was also disheartening to hear close family and friends saying things like, “Wow! Your hair looks great. You finally decided to do something about your forehead, huh?” Those backhanded compliments stung and only reinforced the notion that bangs were the only possible way that I could feel good about myself. Looking back, it seems bizarre. Large foreheads in my family could be traced to my father’s side, where the trait was fairly common. Yet the thought of teaching me to love and accept a feature that I had no control over inheriting never occurred to anyone.
For the remainder of high school, I constantly got my hair trimmed to keep up the look, until I started breaking out all over my forehead. The oils in my bangs caused a massive outbreak and my dermatologist told me that the only way it would clear up would be to allow my skin to breathe and start wearing headbands. There I was with two options: I could either continue hiding under the hair that had become a safety blanket, or I could embrace my forehead and have clear skin again.
One day, I tuned into an episode of The Tyra Banks Show and one of the segments caught my eye. Banks was talking about her own experiences with having a big forehead. She called it a “five-finger forehead,” in fact, since she could fit her entire hand over it. To my surprise, she was damn proud of it. Seeing the supermodel flaunt something that is often viewed as a flaw made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Pretty soon, I got the guts to grow out my hair and style it the way that I wanted, not how others told me it would look best. It’s been a few years since I’ve had straight-across bangs and I haven’t looked back since.
Conventional beauty standards constantly tell women and feminine-presenting individuals how they should look, whether it’s what they should wear or what the most flattering haircut for their face shape would be. But guess what? Rules were made to be broken and everyone is different. The celebs I most look up to, like Rihanna and Rachel McAdams, are never seen following the rules for what haircut matches their face shape, and frequently show off their foreheads. The results are amazing, and undoubtedly inspire me to rock my own big forehead to the fullest.
Truth be told, five-finger-foreheads can be just as beautiful as their smaller counterparts. So if headbands and slicked-back strands are your thing, go for it. Just get the hairstyle or cut that you want without feeling like you have to cover anything up.
Maybe I’ll go back to having straight-across bangs someday. For now, though, I’m happy with embracing my huge forehead by rocking side-swept bangs or going totally bang free. Putting my huge forehead out there for everyone to see is my own means to body positivity.
Images: Thalia Ortiz