If you've scrolled through TikTok, you know that the youth of Gen Z like to attack things the older population deems as popular. Take skinny jeans, the laugh-cry emoji, and word capitalization as just a few examples. The latest showdown is all about hair parts: Based on now viral TikToks, Gen Z believes that only "old millennials" wear side parts, and that everyone looks better with a middle part.
Sure, a middle part promotes facial symmetry and pairs perfectly with the curtain bangs you've been dying to try, while deep side parts bring to mind the "scene kids" many millennials used to be. But, just as some people are either team Blair or Serena, or prefer sweet versus savory, some simply enjoy the way they look with their hair parted one way over the other. And these preferences can change, BTW — when posed the question, the majority of Bustle's edit team made a quarter-life hair part switch.
Back to the question at hand: Do side parts really look as bad as Gen Z claims? To prove they don't automatically make you look like an angsty teen from the early aughts, two millennial Bustle editors moved their middle part to the side for a day — here's what they had to say about it.
"This is the hair of a woman with no unread emails."
Melanie Mignucci, health and wellness editor
Preferred part: Side (*newly committed after this experiment, BTW)
Experience with the switch: "I’d had a side part pretty much as long as I can remember (yes, even as a youth). But when we reached Zoom Times, I grew tired of looking at my lifeless, side-parted hair for multiple hours a day. Finally I asked my boyfriend to chop off 10 inches of hair and I threw it into a middle part. I looked more youthful, which was nice — my hair flounced perfectly when I put it in a bun, rather than molding flat to my scalp. Still, I felt like the middle part exposed so much of my forehead. And with my birthday in January throwing me rudely into my late 20s, I asked myself: Do I really need to look like Gen Z?
I flopped my hair back over to the right on an otherwise innocuous February Wednesday. It felt like slipping on a pair of old jeans you forgot you owned, even though they’d never done you wrong. I looked in the mirror and felt like I was looking at myself, only the more mature, confident adult version of myself. This, I thought, is the hair of a woman with no unread emails.
It’s that last point that underscores why Gen Z is mistaken about the superiority of the middle part. Perhaps to others, a middle part does suit my heart-shaped face better than my medium-side part does. But ultimately, I need to feel in control of my sh*t. And if a side part helps me get there, then I’m sorry-not-sorry to disappoint legions of TikTokers."
"I don't even care if I kinda look like Elvis."
Michelle Toglia, deputy lifestyle editor
Preferred part: Middle
Experience with the switch: "I've had a middle part since my side bangs grew out circa 2009 and I've never gone back. So you can imagine my nerves when I tried out a side part for a day. My hair naturally parts to the center, or close to it, so I knew it would be a challenge to move to the side.
I watched a YouTube video — OK two— and thought I was ready to go. In my first few tries, I had a lot of trouble keeping a straight line. I then tried a zigzag side part so my messiness could look intentional, but I honestly couldn't see. Then I somehow ended up with an actual Snooki poof. I realized I knew nothing about side parts — where do they end? Is the line always visible? Why? But I had a newfound appreciation for how many fellow millennials can execute them on a daily basis.
An hour in and ready to give up, I thought I finally found a spot that was both to the side and not blocking my vision. I felt uncomfortable but it also made me a little nostalgic for the early aughts. "No, that's just off-center," my fiancé told me two hours into my transformation. I snapped a photo and he was right. So he got a comb to help me go deeper, hysterically laughing at how ridiculous I looked. Forty-five minutes later, we landed on a "this might work, but it definitely looks weird" part. I still have a bit of a poof and I feel incredibly uneasy seeing how many long gray hairs have been exposed from just moving some hair over — how long have they been there?! But at this point I'm just happy to just have found some semblance of a side part that I don't even care if I kinda look like Elvis."
Melanie actually transitioned back to a side part after this experiment — that's how much pull the hair flop holds. For some, combing your strands over to one side allows you to accentuate your good side, or channel old Hollywood glam à la Rita Hayworth. Being able to pull off a side part has nothing to do with your age. They'll work for some, while others fare better with a center part — it's a mixed bag. Nice try though at a generational war, Gen Z.