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Friday, October 16, 2009

Above Your Eyes Your Hair Hangs

One of our meebo patrons left a question for us this morning regarding the etymology of the hairstyling word bangs. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary states that the term is probably derived from the word bangtail, a word that was first noted in 1878 when used in reference to a certain style of horse's tail.

Not only does this popular hairstyle appear to be named after a large farm animal, the style itself has a somewhat steamy past. According the The Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History, 15th century clergy ruled that women who cut and curled their hair into bangs represented "a slide into mortal sin" (47). These poor men of the cloth thought that women who spent time fixing their bangs were consorting with the devil. Primpers!

By the way, do you remember this song from They Might Be Giants? It sure makes me feel a lot happier about bangs than horse tails and those fire-breathing monks!

Sherrow, Victoria. "Bangs." Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.
"Bangs." Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. 1998.

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