Why I Choose To Embrace, Not Hate, My Big Forehead (2024)

Photographed Eylul Aslan

When God was handing out foreheads, I got mine, asked for a second helping, returned to the back of the queue, got some more, then repeated this process a few more times.

The genetic lottery did not bless me with much height or enough iron in my blood but when it comes to forehead size, my cup runneth over.I didn’t realise I had a larger than average forehead until I was about 9 years old, primarily because all of my haircuts (courtesy of my mum, who is not a hairdresser, just cheap) included a full, straight fringe down to my lashes. I can quite clearly remember tying my hair back into a ponytail and kirby-gripping my fringe to one side for PE, then turning to my horrified classmate, who said: "Wow, your face is really big." She promptly 'spammed' my forehead and ran off to play.


My Italian grandmother tried to cheer me up by telling me that it was so large because my brain was so big. Well-meaning but too late: by this point, my forehead was wider than the Atlantic to me (and I still couldn’t do long division). From then on, my fringe was my security blanket and I never allowed myself to be seen without it. Any hairstyle I rocked, whether it was up in a ponytail, poker straight or smushed with mousse to make it wavier, also included a fringe. For a few years in my teens, fringes were pretty hot property but when everyone else grew theirs out, mine stubbornly remained.

During my adolescence, the nation’s beauty idol was probably Cheryl. This was the height of her L'Oréal Elnett days, with her reddish brown hair, mega long lashes and dimpled smile. Small, dainty features were what I aspired to but my forehead (and pre-orthodontics jaw) meant they were out of reach. But when I hosted an Instagram Live some weeks ago for Refinery29, I made a joke about my forehead while putting on my makeup and was stunned at how many people started to chime in with "Me too", "Fivehead over here" and "OMG big forehead gang!" It felt like coming home. I now see that there are lots of good things about having a big forehead:more real estate for makeup, more space to sketch your brows bigger and bolder if you want. And you can rock various lengths of fringe (I eventually grew mine out and now have a side parting. Baby steps!).


If you are a fellow big-forehead person reading this, we’re in good company. Arguably one of the most beautiful women in the world, Rihanna has a big forehead. Someone once commented on an Instagram post, "Your forehead shines brighter than my future", to which Rihanna replied: "There’s still hope for you yet then." It's officially my second-favourite Rihanna response of all time. (This is number one.) Tyra Banks? Also a large forehead. Angelina Jolie? Not unremarkably large. Zoe Saldana? Resplendent with a large forehead.

High foreheads crop up in art and religion, too, as a thing of great beauty and significance. Throughout the Renaissance era, big foreheads featured heavily in many portraits, with some women even plucking their hairline back (ouch) in order to achieve a larger forehead. Take a look at St Justina of Padua, for example. Elizabeth I's super large forehead made her a total babe in her time. And in Liberia, the gle or ge masks worn by the Dan people in spiritual ceremonies traditionally have large foreheads and a pointed chin.

Many so-called beauty standards have their roots in Eurocentrism and/or classism (think fair skin being attractive because it meant you had servants to work outdoors for you, i.e. you were rich, or smaller noses being considered more attractive because they seem more Western) but high foreheads seem to be somewhat rootless in that respect. You either have one or you don’t. It’s usually inherited, like the shape of your mouth or the colour of your eyes, and that’s about it. It's only seen as a negative when other people crack jokes about it and call you "fivehead" or "moon face" or something. There are certainly much worse things to live with.

I made peace with my forehead a long time ago but my newfound posse of fellow fivehead babes certainly gives me strength whenever I feel especially like the moon emoji. If yours is big, too? Embrace it!

Why I Choose To Embrace, Not Hate, My Big Forehead (2024)
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