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Big Little Lies: Jane’s new bangs demonstrate the transformative power of a haircut

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Christobel Hastings
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Confused by Jane Chapman’s dramatic new ‘do in Big Little Lies? The reason isn’t so radical, as anyone who’s ever undergone a big hair transformation will discover

There’s been much to talk about since season two of Big Little Lies premiered earlier this month, what with Celeste’s inexplicable blackouts, Renata’s fall from grace, and, of course, everyone’s favourite unhinged mother-in-law Mary Louise’s blood-curdling scream, courtesy of Meryl Streep. Yes, the Monterey Five are moving from the death of Perry Wright in their own unique ways.

One character that’s got the internet talking for an altogether different reason though, is single mum Jane Chapman (played by Shailene Woodley.)  In particular, her decision to get those controversial blunt bangs.

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If you’ve been watching Big Little Lies closely, you’ll know that these no-so-subtle bangs literally turned up out of nowhere. One minute, Jane had a swishy ponytail, the next, she’s sporting a darker colour and rough choppy bangs that literally looks as if she’s hacked her hair with a pair of scissors in the bathroom mirror.

“Why Jane, whyyyy,” has been the constant refrain on the internet since Jane debuted the new look. Somewhat predictably, Twitter has been in uproar over the dramatic ‘do, begging the show’s producers to restore Jane’s all-natural locks from last season.

Enter Shailene Woodley, who has shared with The Hollywood Reporter that she was instrumental in pushing forward Jane’s new haircut in order to give her a fresh start, and with good reason. If you remember, at the end of season one, we discovered that Jane was raped by Perry Wright (played by Alexander Skarsgard), who fathered her ten-year-old son Ziggy.

“I’ve been in this position in my life where, after a major breakup, triumph, or celebration or after a big change, a lot of people alter the way they look. I know for myself, it’s always been haircuts and piercings. That’s been my way of moving forward in new chapters of my life,” Woodley began, explaining that inspired by her experiences with impulse haircuts, she decided to give her character her own in order to help her reclaim her identity.

“I felt that for Jane, she’s carried this weight of not feeling in her own body because of what happened to her for eight years. She felt disconnected from her own identity on not just an emotional and mental level but on a physical level as well,” she elaborated. 

“At the end of season one when Perry died, I felt like maybe two or three weeks after that incident, she would have woken up one morning, looked at herself in the mirror, and thought, ‘This isn’t who I am anymore. This monster is gone and I’m not going to let him live in me or control me any longer.’ In that moment, I feel like she took a pair of scissors and cut her bangs herself.”

Jane’s transformation didn’t stop at her hair, though. Woodley went on to explain that she imagines Jane “went through her closet and gathered up almost everything and took it to the nearest clothing swap store and donated it and got new clothes in order to reestablish and be in control of her identity again.”

“I felt like that would have been her reclaiming her space, even if it was a subconscious decision,” she continued. “Because this ghost who has been a part of her identity for so long had then left on the physical level.”

While we may be forever divided over Jane’s bangs, there’s no denying the transformative power of a haircut. And seeing as Woodley has revealed that her character’s storyline in season two fills her “with a lot of warmth and a lot of hope for the world,” it seems like the young mother’s path to healing is headed in a positive direction.

Image: HBO

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.

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