Several institutions exist to check the veracity of political statements: FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, The Washington Post's Fact Checker, and the classic Snopes. Now, The Atlantic Wire would like to inaugurate a fact-checking apparatus to cover the only assertions more hotly disputed than political claims: trend pieces. These sorts of stories (about how we raise kids, drink, dress) are always controversial, because they're about how we live, which makes everyone an expert. And a critic.
We have three ratings for trend stories: Probably True, Plausible, and You're Kidding. Which category the trend falls into is based on the points each trend story received in three categories: actual evidence the trend exists, actual evidence the trend is new, and general insidiousness.
The Trend Story
Claim: Women are wearing bangs all of a sudden. "The Forehead Is the New Canvas," by The New York Times' Stephanie Rosenbloom.
Evidence of Trend's Existence: 1. Three celebrities were spotted wearing bangs at one New York event in May (Jessica Biel, Marion Cotillard, and Gennifer Goodwin). 2. Six more celebrities have bangs: Beyoncé, Rachel McAdams, Ivanka Trump, Nicole Kidman, Lea Michele, and Zooey Deschanel. 3. Models wore bangs at the Chanel cruise show. 4. "Celebrity gossip magazines are already calling 2012 the year of the bang," The Times says. It's not clear which magazine is being referenced, though MilaniHair.com posted a headline in January proclaiming, "Hair Trends 2012: Year of the Bang." 5. People are watching a YouTube called "An Infomercial for Bangs."
Evidence of Newness: "Everyone wants them right now," stylist Alan Tosler told the newspaper.
Evidence of Insidiousness: Pretty much anyone can have bangs. But there are some people, per the piece, who cannot: "if you have a cowlick in your hairline," "if you’ve got a superlow hairline," those with "skimpy little bangs," or "if you wear your hair naturally curly."
Existence: 4 points. For every Zooey Deschanel, there are muliple Angelina Jolies. We could probably name 600 celebrities that do not have bangs to the six that do. There is no evidence that bangs are very popular right now among real people (or even Thursday Styles readers). In fairness to The Times, it is fairly difficult to find reliable statistical data about bangs. Many studies of this severely deprived corner of sociological research are funded by shampoo companies. Others, commissioned by women's magazines, use suspect methodology, as when Cosmopolitan polled "100 guys on the street" what they really think about women's hair. "43 percent of guys said they get off on watching a girl put her hair up; 37 percent said they enjoy watching a girl let her hair down. 20 percent said both are equally hot!" Cosmo reported.
Newness: 5 points. Bangs have been around forever, and they have been coming back in style in the pages of The New York Times for forever. "Bangs Return, and With Them, Naysayers and Chopaholics," The Times reported on July 26, 2007. "Pop’s Hair Apparent | Justin Bieber," The Times wrote on March 23, 2010, referring to Bieber's fluffy bangs. A Goody study in 2010 found that of the top six most popular hairstyles of all time, five had some kind of bangs. And one of the celebrities cited was Zooey Deschanel, who is the Queen of All Bangs. But Deschanel didn't suddenly adopt bangs. She told BellaSugar, "Your hair is part of your identity, and I've always felt like a brunette with bangs. I've grown them [bangs] out before, but I feel more comfortable with them." Always!
Insidiousness: 1 point. This trend, aside from making women look silly, does not falsely suggest something terrible about humanity.
Score: 10. We Rate This: You're Kidding