It’s no new thing for trends from previous decades to claw their way out of their proverbial graves in search of new brains to prey on. With the cultural context that originally gave birth to them long gone, decade-specific trends reemerge as empty shells of their former selves and with the purification process well under way, they wrap their ugly little fingers around the throats of those with short cultural memories everywhere. For some reason, when any given decade “IS BACK” what comes back always seems to be the worst, the ugliest, and the the most mainstream of what it originally had to offer. Remember when the ’80s were “BACK?” We got neon, a variety of weird shiny materials, those stupid slatted sunglasses that I loved when I was in 3rd grade, and cheap bangles. Or in the early ’90s when the ’60s and ’70s were BACK simultaneously and everyone was wearing Hot Topic versions of “Flower Power” and weird velure track suits that smelled like puberty and looked like bad porno.
Well, NOW the ’90s ARE BACK. They’ve been back for quite some time actually. But while the ’90s era slacker/grunge look has been prowling around for a couple of years, the unfortunate hairstyles thankfully avoided resurrection. Until now. And god help us all.
Before we begin, let me be clear: I can’t stand styles that make people look unwashed. I’ve been like this since I was a little kid. I was a tomboy, played outside constantly, and wasn’t afraid of much, but I couldn’t stand getting sticky or having dirt under my fingernails and I didn’t like seeing evidence of stickiness on others, even my baby brother. When he was a toddler, if my brother got food around his mouth, I would alert my parents immediately. “Mom, he’s sticky!!” As an adult, it’s a pet peeve I haven’t been able to shake even as I’ve had friends of varying punk rock persuasions (early twenties) to hobo “chic” (early- to mid-twenties). That said, ALL OF THE FOLLOWING HAIRSTYLES MAKE YOU LOOK STICKY [note: these are only white people hairstyles since I’ve only been seeing sticky stylings on white people]
Ok, let’s have a chit chat about a hairstyle so pointlessly complicated, it has its own hyphenated identity construct. It is the undercut-ponyhawk-sidetail. That’s it up there. I like to call it the lawnmower, because it looks like a crazed landscaper went Edward Scissorhands on your scalp. Here’s how a website outlining great short hairstyles for 2012 described it:
Even for men, the undercut will fit almost anyone. This may also be one of the oldest and classiest hairstyle around. Having an undercut hairstyle can also give you plenty of options to change your appearance. You can sweep your hair to the right, left or on top and change how you look every time.
I saw this hairstyle in Whole Foods just this past weekend on someone in their late 30s who was dressed like a “normal” and couldn’t figure out what the wearer was trying to communicate about themselves. I assumed they’d had a hair accident. And that they were sticky.
The thing about the undercut is that it used to be used to convey an allegiance with some sort of anti-establishment subculture…punk, goth, rock n’ roll, etc. When it’s used properly, it can look ok and make sense with the wearer’s look. Sort of. Personally, I’m still not a fan, but at least it makes sense, which makes it seem less unwashed.
Oh hey! You know what never makes sense ever? Manic Panic. That’s right, I said MANIC PANIC, the hair dye for people who want to highlight skin inconsistencies.
Of all of the worst ’90s trends, I cannot imagine why anyone wanted to raise Manic Panic from the grave. Just to prove that Kool Aid colored hair doesn’t look good on anyone, here are some pictures of people who would otherwise look like one of the living:
I know. That was harrowing. I’m sorry. Sometimes you have to take drastic measures to prove a point. Speaking of drastic measures, I’ve noticed that some people don’t think that manic panic is extreme enough and have been combining it with one of the worst hairstyles ever invented. The Chelsea.
I will say, even I had a version of the Chelsea at one point. And I regret it. I don’t regret much in my life, but I regret that hairstyle. I blame Hackers.
Here’s a natural Chelsea:
The other frankenhair roving the world of late is like a side shave thing with otherwise long hair. Its sticky factor comes in a close second place to the undercut-ponyhawk-sidetail.
And finally, the worst hairstyle to crawl out of the grave and onto people who don’t seem in any other way aesthetically affiliated with punk rock is the mohawk-rattail. For some reason, only people in black hoodies with weird white stains all over them are drawn to this cut-ish. WHAT ARE THE STAINS, PEOPLE?
Usually, this would be the part of the rant wherein I would begin to feel self-conscious about sounding like a prematurely old fuddy-duddy, but I’ve been seeing these gross throwbacks to a schlumpy time on people my own age or older, more than people in their early twenties. I realize that style is a deeply personal thing, and I respect that. Most of the time. Sort of. But what’s the problem, people? The’90s could not have been your gilded age, stylistically speaking! Even the ’80s throwback, which I thought was as bad as it would get, had more oomph than this. This is oomph-less! I feel like I’m surrounded by the walking undead and unwashed. It’s depressing! Stop being depressing! Thus concludes my rant about ugly ’90s-era hairstyles. At least nobody brought back the “Rachel.”