The problem with fringes

Disclaimer: What follows is an article entirely about fringes. It features no political bent or biting satirical commentary, it does not address issues of technology, economy or environment, and it will not teach you anything. Except how ruddy hard it is having a fringe.

You may think the topic is irrelevant to you, because you do not have a fringe. But look around you! Look at your spouse or offspring, your colleague, the angry person next to you in Tesco. You're never more than three feet away from a fringe, and each day some 86% of people are affected by fringes, either directly or indirectly. Fringes are all around us.

Having a fringe is, and I am not exaggerating here, almost exactly like having a child. From the moment it enters your life it becomes a constant source of nagging worry - the taming, the training, the tears. Praying it will head in right direction, but knowing it will choose its own path irrespective of your wishes. When you can't see it, you convince yourself it's probably misbehaving, and on the rare occasion that it does exactly what you want it to, there's never anyone around to applaud.

Quite honestly, given my time again, I don't think I'd have one at all.


They always start off as such a good idea, too. "FRAME YOUR FACE," scream the magazines, and we obediently bedeck our forehead with little hair curtains like a Victorian four poster bed. We imagine we'll peer out winsomely from beneath it like Penelope Tree, or Wednesday Adams, and that it will fall endearingly into our eyes when we're feeling coy.

What we forget, in those crucial minutes in the salon chair, is that we're not in a book or a Woody Allen film, and we never peer winsomely at anything, and that at the slightest bit of rain or humidity our hair turns from a conventional, downward-facing mass of proteins into an extravagant, curling, topiary structure, the likes of which even the most delicate features can't set off. We forget all this. Thus is the deceitful power of the fringe.

Fringes refuse to work with weather. Rain = forehead spaghetti. Wind = Duran Duran bouffant. Heat = HIYA, sweat farm. They exist at their best inside a complete vacuum (which indeed is where I believe most of Zooey Deschanel's filming must take place). Likewise they don't like to cooperate with the rest of the hair, preferring to perch separately on the front of an up-do like a stroppy child at a party.

I have had my current fringe for seven years. Unlike many fringes, it was not the product of an over-zealous hairdresser - I actually cut it in myself, in a fit of teenage scissor stupidity. This means that in the subsequent years, every time I've cursed my fringe (we're talking hourly), I've had no one to blame but myself.

As a result, it's been a sadly abusive relationship. I've hacked it, bleached it, pinned it, moussed it, sprayed it and battered it into submission with straighteners. I've been known to pull out whole clumps as punishment for flicking at an odd angle. And now, I’m ending things once and for all. I’m growing it out.

As 'research' for this column, I asked my boyfriend what his views on my fringe were.

"That bit that goes across your forehead?" he asked.


"I like it."

“Shut up.”