There are many reasons to celebrate Sally Field. Her down-to-earth acting. Her consummate professionalism. Her perky verve. But we’re not here to talk about those things. We’re here to talk about Sally’s Field’s hair. Specifically, her bangs.
As a hairstyle, bangs have been around for thousands of years. Cleopatra rocked them (courtesy of a wig, but still). Jane Austen sported delicately curled bangs that said “I have a mind for social realism, and a body for the landed gentry.” And Audrey Hepburn made “baby bangs” more popular than babies.
Bangs come in many styles: the center part fringe, the long and choppy, the softly side-swept, and the Bettie Page “pin-up girl,” just to name a few.
But bangs don’t just make you feel like a riot grrrl. They also do stuff. Bangs can cover a high forehead, soften the face, and tell Todd from Accounting “hey, my eyes are up here, pal.” They also make you appear younger, which is why bangs have been affectionately dubbed the “French Facelift.”
Sally Field’s devotion to bangs is legendary. They’ve been a staple, née a hallmark, of her long and storied career. I am not overstating this when I say Sally Field’s bangs are a national treasure.
Who can forget Sally’s girl-next-door, bumper bangs in Gidget? Not even Sally’s innocently fun-loving ponytails could upstage her perky fringe.
Sally next sported short, blunt bangs beneath her heavily starched habit in The Flying Nun. The exact look that says “I believe in Jesus and the irrefutable power of aerodynamics.”
Sure, we could wait for the dialogue in Smokey & the Bandit to tell us Sally is a runaway bride, or we could just let her gloriously carefree wind-swept bangs show us as they blow with wild abandon in that sweet Trans-Am T-Top.
But Sally Field’s bangs weren’t only about the laughs. The hairdo that could do no wrong didn’t just settle for light-hearted fluff. Sometimes her bangs won her Academy Awards.
In Norma Rae, Sally’s union-organizing bangs were parted down the middle. A roadmap, if you will, for finding that middle ground between the rights of the workers and a company’s need to turn a profit.
In Places in the Heart, Sally’s newly widowed, curly bangs had enough grit to stand up to a tornado AND the Ku Klux Klan.
And in Steel Magnolias, Sally’s bangs had the strength to survive the loss of a daughter, and to admit that Shelby was right. Though I couldn’t help but notice Julia Roberts wore her hair pulled up in her scenes with Sally. Drink that juice? More like “brush those bangs, Shelby!”
It should be pointed out that in Lincoln, Sally wasn’t allowed to sport bangs, and we all know how that turned out for her husband Abe.
Why do Sally Field’s bangs deserve to be Gleeked? Because her bangs challenge us. They inspire us. They make us wonder, “Should I try a blunt bang, or should I go bold and be asymmetrical?” Not only do Sally Field’s bangs define who she is, they define who we wish we were. And maybe most importantly, they make us like her. Like, really like her.
So raise a glass to Sally Field’s bangs. Sometimes they’re long. Sometimes they’re short. Sometimes they’re straight. Sometimes they’re curly. And sometimes they play Tom Hanks’ love interest in one movie, and his mother in another.