Local experts discuss the psychology of ‘stress bangs’

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – We’re in a season of change right now in the start of a new year, lots of people are thinking about reinventing themselves. But taking scissors to your hair may not be the right way to do that.

We sat down with a local therapist, and a hairstylist to learn about the psychology of “stress bangs.”

“You post a selfie with bangs and everybody’s like ‘fire emoji, you go girl,’ then they text you, like ‘you okay?” said Taylor Tomlinson. 

Stress bangs, also known as trauma bangs. If you haven’t tried a DIY haircut yourself, you probably know someone who has. But there’s a difference between wanting a simple change, and trying to solve underlying problems with scissors.

“Life stressors, breakups, things like that, where people feel maybe that they didn’t have control in a situation where they’re experiencing maybe some depression, anxiety,” said Charlene Pyskoty, a local therapist. 

Pyskoty says a ton of her clients have cut their own hair after going through a rough patch.

“Cutting one’s own hair is a way to, you know, maybe feel a sense of control, maybe say ‘you know what, I’m cutting the cord with the past, I’m moving on, and especially now New year, new me,’” said Pyskoty. 

But what happens if you change your hair and you don’t feel better?

“We get into darker territory where people might do impulsive things to hurt themselves or others,” Pyskoty said. “If you notice that you’re letting your house really fall into disarray, if you’re not doing what you need to do on a daily basis to take care of yourself. If you’re missing time at work, or school, or your family members or friends are noticing that you’ve withdrawn, then it’s really time to look at yourself and then see what’s going on.”

Or even time to seek professional help. 

“Even though your hairdresser isn’t your therapist, it can be very therapeutic to talk to somebody, somebody who’s focused on you,” said Pyskoty. 

Somebody like Taylor Lesch, a hairstylist at Beautique Hair Studio, who says she’s no stranger to clients making “emergency appointments.”

“There’s no judgment, we all get a hold of the scissors,” said Lesch. 

Brianna: “imagine there’s a person standing in front of a mirror, holding scissors about to make, you know, a drastic decision for better or for worse, 

We ask Lesch what would her advice be, as a hairstylist, to that person?”

“Leave it to the professionals, you know, because what if maybe, maybe it’ll come out great, but what if it doesn’t, and then you’re stuck feeling not so great about yourself for the next few weeks,” she said. “You’re not alone. Everybody wants to change and whether you have bangs or it’s color or no color at all, or no cut, you know, we all want to feel good about ourselves. And, you know, do what you got to do to make that happen. “

She also said that if you really need a change, go for it, but make sure you’re in good hands.