Part Problems

It’s Time To Embrace Your Widow’s Peak

My hairline woes screwed right off once I had the right toolkit.

by Mary Grace Garis
It's time to embrace your widow's peak.

I spent the majority of my life denying my widow’s peak, lamenting my lack of suitable hairstyles. A deep side part? Less Veronica Lake, more CEO covering his receding hairline. A slicked-back ponytail? It’s a no-go, bestie, unless Eddie Munster is your vibe of choice. And bangs were never a solution, since my hairline has them spring into two tiny curtains, parting in the middle to expose that telltale V-shape.

Then, in December, I announced, “I’m doing a middle part now!” with the same gravitas of, “I’m getting married,” or, “We’re having a baby!” My bedtime ritual is paging through The Golden Book of Fortune Telling and learning about the symbolism of birthdates, names, colors... you know, anything to assign a deeper meaning to my life beyond, “make enough money to afford mozzarella sticks until you die.” And one night, I found the most mystical rebrand for my widow’s peak, which basically says that having one means having psychic powers. From there I fell down a black hole: that a V-shaped hairline signifies deep intuition, sensitivity, creativity, and low-key ties to the occult. Say no more — I took that at face value and waited for my true capabilities to arrive.

For a little widow’s peak 101, know that it’s essentially a genetic trait that produces a V-shaped hairline with higher sides and a point in the middle. TBH, it’s tough to determine what exact portion of the population actually has it — studies vary by culture or region — but if you need a hard statistic, one in three Kardashian sisters has one (Kourtney, FWIW). So it isn’t necessarily uncommon, but it’s always had an element of notoriety. And that infamy started with the name itself.

“The term widow’s peak is widely believed to originate from the hairline’s resemblance to a widow’s cap or hood, which was worn by English women in the Middle Ages following the death of their husband,” says London-based hair editor Rachael Gibson, who also created @TheHairHistorian, an Instagram account dedicated to showcasing the wide variety of hairstyles that have been popular throughout history. “This headwear featured a distinctive pointed triangle in the center of the forehead, and what might have started as a nickname or reference to this has fallen into common use.”

The “villainous widow’s peak” trope might be a cackling pop culture cover-up for how many iconic babes sport that hairline.

This might be how the widow’s peak originated as a very bad omen in some parts of Europe. According to Rachel Lang, astrologer, psychic medium, and author of Modern Day Magic: 8 Simple Rules to Realize Your Power and Shape Your Life, it was a sign you could lose your spouse — or your life — early. It was also an indicator you were involved with, wait for it, witchcraft. There’s even a direct tie between the two since, as Lang points out, to be a widow meant being more vulnerable to being accused of witchcraft. “Widows weren’t under the guidance of a man and had more agency to disrupt things,” Lang says. “In certain circumstances, they had inheritances that made it unnecessary for them to be associated with a man.” (Nice.)

The other big stories around widow’s peaks mainly center around Old Hollywood toxicity. Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth each had theirs resculpted, a process that, I hate to report, involved painful electrolysis on the skull. And for Hayworth — real name Margarita Cansino — removing her widow’s peak and baby hairs was part of a larger effort to make her appear “less Latin.” I double hate to report that, but it connects to that unfair “othering” aspect of a widow’s peak.

“Anything that slightly differs from the norm can typically be linked to ‘otherness’ and associated with negative connotations,” Gibson says. “And we can also add Eurocentric beauty ideals into why a neat hairline has long been considered preferable.”

By contrast, in other cultures a receding or shaved hairline was considered attractive. “In late Edo-era Japan, women shaved or pinned back their hair to achieve a widow’s peak, known as fujibitai, or Fuji forehead for the mountain peak,” Gibson says.

Remembering how beauty standards are globally subjective is a dope way to reclaim your widow’s peak. But are there actual magical properties to be found? I’ll say this: Embracing this feature did, in fact, bring out the High Priestess in me. Remember, tresses in general have spiritual connotations. “Women’s hair was considered a source of magic, or a place where women could hide their magical tools,” Lang says. “The Malleus Maleficarum [a 1400s-era guidebook on persecuting witches] cites this as a reason why women being executed for witchcraft must be entirely shaved.”

To deny one of their hair is denying them of their power. So I took the comb and made the choice. While I haven’t started reading people’s minds or telling the future beyond my usual “the wait for brunch is going to be astronomical” predictions, I’ve certainly felt more creative and intuitive. I’ve sensed a deeper connection to the source, whatever that source may be (God, the universe, Nora Ephron, who knows). And I’ve started, even completed, some of the art projects I put on hold pre-pandemic. This shift also opened my eyes to how other women with widow’s peaks do have a unique aura to them.

My hairline woes screwed right off as soon as I had the right toolkit.

For example: The “villainous widow’s peak” trope might be a cackling pop culture cover-up for how many iconic babes sport one. Patron Saint of Weird Girls Wednesday Addams has a hairline so sharp it could spear a boar (Christina Ricci version, kids). And Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Willow Rosenberg is the most powerful witch in the western hemisphere, with red hair and a dipped peak to boot. Even Sailor Moon has the kind of peaked bangs I sported as a teenager. All different characters, all imbibed with a special, supernatural energy.

If nothing else, it’s been a joy to play with lavish, ethereal accessories. I haven’t gone full medieval circlet yet, but I’ve gathered a pearl-encrusted headband, a gold tiara, dual flower clips to pull my hair off my face — the list goes on. These additions just wouldn’t look right with my mealy-mouth side part; they complement and elevate that psychic’s point of mine. My hairline woes screwed right off as soon as I had the right toolkit.

So I ask again: When it comes to widow’s peak and mysticism, what’s the truth? Sometimes, it’s simply the story you choose. For me, that means embracing my middle part like the modern-day mystic that I am. And for anyone else who has been hiding their peak until now: Welcome to the coven.