It wasn’t that long ago that I had to Google Justin Bieber to find out who he was (getting old/not down with the kids anymore/miss the 90s). Mildly annoyed by his gratingly cheery pop music and filled with the overriding urge to punch him in his cherubian face, I was less than impressed. One thing struck me about him though—his perfect hair. It was the way it swept across his forehead; the way it swished from side to side as he did his little dance routines; the way his doe eyes stared out from beneath the shiny, Pantene promo-worthy curtain—I’d seen it before.
I thought about all the boys I’d loved growing up. All the faces I’d ever torn out of Smash Hits to stick up on my bedroom walls as a teenager. And I realized that, like Justin Bieber now, they all had stupid, stupid hair. Absolutely nothing has changed since I was an amply be-hormoned tween—teenage girls still love guys with wanky hairstyles (Justin Bieber being the prime example) and they will forever more.
Likewise, watching High School Musical recently (for the first time, quite surprisingly!) I found myself utterly and immovably transfixed by Zac Efron’s hair. This strange combination of blonde highlights, straightened sides and rock hard fringe had me completely perplexed. No matter how many times he twirled, jumped or generally caused some kind of joyful all-singing all-dancing melee in the school corridors, his hair did not move. Not even one tiny little fly-away.
I’m pretty sure this super coiffed look is some kind of million dollar franchise, because Gossip Girl‘s Chace Crawford has his fringe stuck to his forehead too.
That might be the current state of heartthrob hair, but let me tell you—it has always been this dire. I remember my first real celebrity crush was on Jonathan Taylor Thomas (that’s JTT to anyone born in the 80s), and somehow I really convinced myself that one day I would meet him and we’d get married and live in a mansion next door to Christina Ricci or Blink 182 or something. Anyway, his hair style was typical heart throb hair at the time, a floppy, blonde, semi side-parted ear length look that was the kind of hair mothers thought looked ‘sweet.’ I once had a hairdresser who told me you know your hair is no good when your mother loves it.
My second crush was on Leonardo DiCaprio, which is a crush I’d be surprised if any girls my age missed. I know he’s fat now, but there was a time when I had every inch of my bedroom wall covered in posters of Leo, and that’s not an exaggeration. I remember one birthday all my friends and family bought me presents that had something to do with Leo—books, collectors cards, even a mirror with his face etched into it—and it wasn’t even some kind of sick, preconceived joke that they’d conspired. That’s just how much I loved Leo. He had similar hair to JTT, but a lot more windswept and less mum friendly, although I’m pretty sure I caught my mum giving Romeo more than one lascivious glace when she thought I wasn’t looking.
A lot of girls my age were also into Nick Carter, whose hair falls into the same category as Leo and JTT. I always kind of liked that short weird guy in Backstreet Boys (I think he’s name was Howie or something horrible like that) but he was the dud and really uncool so I never told anyone and just kept quiet during the whole BSB frenzy.
If you are Australian or English you were probably into Dieter Brummer who was Shane on Home & Away. I always thought he was gay but I liked Melissa George who played his girlfriend on the show, especially because her on screen name was Angel and I thought that someday maybe I’d call my daughter Angel too. Then one day I grew up and realised I hated hippies, so that idea went out the window and I started considering sensible names. Anyway, Dieter had the same hair as the above heart throbs, but it was always wet because he was an adventurous surfer type.
This leads me to the worst heart throb hair EVER. The illustrious award goes to none other than James Van Der Beek, the overly self aware, devastatingly whiny and kind of girlie, Dawson Leery. I was always more of a Pacey fan, just like I was always more of a Seth fan, but then I’ve always been the kind of the girl who goes for the side-kick (see love for Howie mentioned above).
Running parallel with the floppy heart throb hair phase was the electrified look, championed by none other than one of my most personal favorites, Saved By The Bell‘s shenanigan causing Zac, played by Mark Paul Gosselaar (who now has his own I’m-a-90s-wash-up TV show, something about some dudes who are lawyers but sort of loveable and funny. I think there’s another guy in it who was in Road Trip or something).
Second up in the ‘I just stuck a knife in the toaster’ stakes is Freddie Prinze Jr. I remember feeling really uncomfortable in She’s All That during the Hackey Sack Scene. It was kind of like watching a really graphic sex scene with your parents, but I’m not really sure why.
Honorable mentions for vertiginous hair go to brooders Luke Perry and David Boreanaz.
And finally another one for the Australian girls; Drazic from Heart Break High, or ‘Drastic’ as my mother would always call him. I was actually banned from watching the show because “it’s not appropriate for a young girl to be watching shows with characters called Drastic.” Not only did his hair seem to be exempt from the laws of gravity, it was also a complete oil slick. I remember being crazy about his eyebrow ring… Nasty.
The moral of the story is that as long as young women continue to love young men with silly hairstyles, young men will continue to have silly hairstyles.