I broke up with my boyfriend and now I have bangs

When life throws something unexpected in the path of our writer Edaein O'Connell, she has a stock response - chopping or colouring her hair. However, the results aren't always what she envisions.


When life throws me a curve ball, my first instinct is to cut my hair.

Like an animal shedding for the summer, I like to shed myself of whatever silly, disastrous or volatile occurrence that has occurred in my life. This time it was a break-up and my choice of rebound was a full fringe. I sat in the hairdresser's chair, looked at myself and asked how I had come to this point in my life. And then I decided bangs would solve all of my problems.

So, how did the change work out for me?

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Well, the fringe is not cooperating and likes to split at the right-hand side of my forehead. I now usually have it swept back and I deeply regret this lapse in hair judgment.

My learning is that a fringe is effort and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

ABBA and bobs

This isn't the first time I have cut my hair in the hope that it would magically solve my problems. In the past, my default was cutting my hair into a bob, which aged me well beyond my early 20s. These bobs didn't look like the chic, fashion-forward cuts you would see in the magazines in the hairdressers.

No, these bobs looked like the human version of a mushroom. The bobs made me feel like a woman named Sharon who always wanted to speak with the manager wherever she went. To take away from the harshness of the cut, I took to wearing a lot of luminous yellow to deter the gaze of onlookers.

Related: Break-up haircuts and how they work for celebs

White platforms and red lipstick completed the look and alas, it became my 'ABBA tribute act phase'.

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While I watched my hairdresser tentatively cut the fringe into my hair, I wondered why in times of personal change women often like to drastically change their appearance.

The post-break-up haircut

The post-break-up cut, for instance, has become a phenomenon of sorts.

It is like a form of redemption and release from the previous life you once lived. Your hair is like a forest of secrets and memories and just like you cut the person from your life, you cut your hair to purge yourself of the sense of them.

It's a ritual that has been depicted in many a chick flick and real-life scenario. Most recently, singer Una Healy dyed her signature auburn locks to blond after she separated from husband Ben Foden. Katy Perry cut her long locks into a peroxide pixie cut after her break-up with Orlando Bloom. And even Kim Kardashian has done it, going blond after her three-year relationship with Reggie Yates went kaput.

It's telling someone "f you" without voicing the expletive. It's taking control of your life when it feels like you can't quite get a grip on it. Break-ups, career changes and loss can leave you reeling, but cutting your hair or changing its colour can help you feel like you are in charge again.

These changes are a form of much-needed self-care.

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Cutting away the past

After a break-up, your life irrevocably changed. All you want is the past to be the past. In many ways, changing your hair shows you're ready for the next step; a fresh start.

And there is scientific jargon from those in the know to back it up my theory. Clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany told the Times of India: "Many women feel like their hair or appearance is still that one thing they have absolute control over".

Related: The life-changing act of breaking up with crap friends

"So, when they decide to chop off their tresses, it is mostly to adopt a new, fresher identity. The girl feels an intense need to move on and hence, the need to look different and new.”

It feels like a dead weight and break-ups are hard enough without the added feelings of unease about your life choices. However, it's not just the end of relationships that prompt the need to do a Gok Wan makeover on your hair. Before big moments in my life – interviews, jobs, new cities – I have cut, coloured and sometimes ruined my hair, just for a taste of freedom. The thrill of the new and the unknown.

A new haircut equals a new me. She's sassy, sexy, self-assured, and confident. She is better and more together, not sad and heartbroken although inside that may be exactly how she feels.

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Choices

Be careful, however, about making the drastic decision to cut, colour, shave or perm your hair. Alexa Chung once said of break-up haircuts: "Go and kiss loads of other people, but don't f*cking touch your hair. You'll still feel sad – and you'll have weird hair."

Sadly, she's right. I may have cut my hair in the hopes that my feelings towards a broken relationship would suddenly disappear, but they didn't. I still feel sad and sometimes my heart aches. I look at the fringe with its cows lick and wayward right-hand side parting and remember the reason it's there and my breath catches.

But then I think of everything else that I've gained along with the fringe: hope, optimism, excitement and a renewed vigour for life. Heartbreak, I hope, may come and go but I pray everything else that came with it stays. This fringe that I talk of like it's a person, has made me feel more empowered than I have in a very long time.

So, contrary to what I said earlier, I don't actually think I regret getting the fringe. I may not like it very much, and it may stick to my head when I sweat, but it showed me that I am in control of my choices.

And those choices were made for a reason.

That reason was taking care of me.

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More like this:

  • Break-up hair cuts: It might work for celebs, but it didn't work for me...here
  • I’m three days into a break-up, and this is my experience so far. Sniff...here
  • The incredible sadness of breaking up with a friend...here

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