What Your Ponytail Says About You

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by Sophie Milrom
August 12, 2014
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Your ponytail says a LOT more than that quiz you just took called “What Type of Burrito Are You?,” I’ll tell you that much.

The High Ponytail:

thehighpony1

This pony is ideal for exercising. It’s also great for signaling that you don’t give a what. The HP can take many different forms depending on execution – was the head flipped over then fastened upside down, or was the hair gathered in a rush with one skilled swoop? Was a soft-bristled comb employed to get rid of any bumps, or does the ‘do look slightly slept in? High ponies are the maxi dress of their kind: some people can pull off the style and look cool, while others just…cannot.

The Low and Parted Ponytail:

low-and-parted1

This is the champagne of ponytails: elegant, timeless, goes well with black tie. The woman who wears her hair parted and pulled back at the nape of her neck is making a knowing decision to look put together. Think Dries Van Noten or Calvin Klein.

The Medium-Height Ponytail:

themediumpony1

It’s the denim of ponytails – accessible to pretty much everyone. At its best it looks neat and clean a la Olivia Palermo. At its worst, it’s still fine, if not slightly reminiscent of vintage Antonio Banderas. Middle tails can also give the impression that you’re an athlete and/or no nonsense, which can either work in your favor or really throw a person off when choosing teams for an inter-office game of volley ball.

Pigtails:

pigtails1

Unless your name is Michelle Tanner and you live in San Francisco with two sisters, a dad, and two uncles with great hair, pigtails are probably bad news. Adult women only wear pigtails when they are trying too hard to look casual.

For instance: you’ve gone on three dates with someone and decide to have a low key night in together. “Let’s just like, stay in and drink wine and order Thai and watch a movie!” You might be tempted to wear pigtails with a sweatpants-outfit that took hours to pick out. You might also be tempted to claim, “These are my old pajamas,” even though you what you actually sleep in is a ripped XXXL t-shirt from your brother’s Bar Mitzvah.

I would advise to just wear jeans, and limit yourself to a single scrunchy.

Half-Up-Half-Down Ponytail:

halfuppony1

People who dare to sport the HUHD tend to be wildcards. They are normally interesting. I’d bet that if Gertrude Stein had kept her hair long, she would have worn it half-up, half-down. This style comes with a warning, however, pointed out by my strange friend Amelia: if you’re not careful, or around someone who watched too much WWE in middle school, you could get compared to professional wrestler Shawn Michaels. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Front-Bump-Pony:

bumpit1

The front-bump-pony is the HUHD’s clubbing cousin. It can be achieved in several ways, from bobby pins and hairspray to the utilization of a gadget sold in infomercials. Anyone who wears a bump is most likely oozing with personality and also, product. Gwen Stefani can pull this off. I, on the other hand, should not even try.

The Antenna:

theantenna

At some point during the 1990s, women started pulling pieces out of their ponytail to frame their faces. The pieces varied in size from severe chunks to thin whisps but were always, always taken from the immediate left and right of one’s center hairline. Sometimes they were treated with a curling iron for coils in front of one’s face. (Sometimes = fancy times.) In their modern iteration, The Antenna have become strategically-pulled whispers of hair from all around the hairline (think J.Crew model), but to those of us born in ’87 they will remain forever burned into our brain as the only thing that made a ponytail feel truly complete.

No-Part, Slicked-Back Pony:

1slicked-back-no-part

Slicked-back ponytails without a part are a very sensitive subject for me. Growing up, I probably lost my voice 10 times screaming at my mom to “GET THE BUMPS OUT!” A little product and a soft-bristled brush helped, but somehow a bump or two managed to appear. Meanwhile Kelly in math class’s pony was perfect — her mother clearly practiced witchcraft. Otherwise it’s just not possible.

Now show us your ponytail, and tell us what it says.

Illustrations by Charlotte Fassler

REPLIES
  • Aleks Kop

    Loooove ponytails! When I was little my mum did not teach me any fancy ways of braiding or tying my hair, so I just ended up rocking the messy high ponytail style all the time, which now became a cool effortless statement of not giving a what as said but also a representation of natural everyday beauty. Thanks mum!
    Aleks Kop ‘Wandering Minds’
    ourwanderingminds.com

  • Zoe Penina Baker

    I always associate high ponys with cheerleading and similarly peppy broad but more in a spirit way than an actually active/excercisey way. I feel like I’ve been going for a high pony with some lil wisps for summers since forever- seems much more apropro than pigtails for a playful vibe. Also makes you look taller ;)

    • Amelia Diamond

      I do the high pony tooooo

  • Charlotte Fassler

    “The Antenna” which I tend to refer to as simply “two pieces” will always remind me of Amanda Bynes.

    • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

      “It was the best of Bynes, it was the worst of Bynes.” – Dickens.

      • ElizabethGray

        I’m not going to lie. You just made my day worthwhile. Sincerest thanks.
        - Mondays Suck

    • liz

      “The Antenna” – often referred to by my gal pal group as “Slut Strands” – are killer. Summer Roberts and Joey Potter were two of the best repeat offenders of all time.

      • Charlotte Fassler

        I feel like the “two-pieces” look is synonymous with the Juicy sweatsuit, of which Summer was a repeat offender. She also rocked some pigtails in conjunction with the juicys…. just check out those wrap around sunglasses!!

      • Kate

        I seem to recall that, at my Australian high school, the antennas of
        “The Antenna” were similarly called “Slut Rags”! I am unable to shed
        any light on the origin of this term (characteristically naive of me!) but they definitely were worn best by the “cool group”.

        • liz

          KATE. I love that term “slut rags” – completely hilarious!! It’s soooo Ja’mie circa Summer Heights High. Strangely enough, I grew up in Tennessee in the States. I don’t know where the phrase came from either. Small, slutty world.

  • GiuliaG

    Currently sporting the HUHD ponytail… Back in Copenhagen I saw lots of girls doing this, and if the CPH-girls do it, it means I’ll try to copy that for sure… IMHO, Danish girls are the new French girls, in terms of style inspiration http://copenhannah.tumblr.com/post/14228929903/how-to-look-like-a-dane

    • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

      omg girl I noticed the same thing!!! Hahah the Danes love that little HUHD/man-bun.

      Fellow Scandiphile right hurrrrr. The Danish girls beat the French girls any day in my opinion too. The cool, understated underdogs are comin’ out on top!!
      It might be sad to admit, but I’ve “studied” the Danish styles for years, now. It must be a heritage thing.

      • GiuliaG

        Scandiphile of the world unite, we should ovethrow the french girl myth! I can study them as much as I want, my italian genes (that means brown/almost balck hair and not being so tall) do not allow me to take my style-copycating too far! But I carry my Fjallraven backpack around proudly

  • Esther Levy

    Always been a fan of the HUHD, recently replaced by the ‘man bun’ what does this say about me? Aside for my proclivity towards men who resemble Jared Leto?

    • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

      I do HUHD w/ man bun as well. I started doing it to prep for my Europe trip because it’s the hair apocalypse of Copenhagen — pair with Nike Air Force 1s and a cross-body fanny pack and you’re good — and I haven’t stopped since!

      • Christina

        That is so true – here in Denmark every single kind-of-cool girl wears her hair like that. Plus the Nikes and fanny pack! Spot on description of Scandinavian style :)

        • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

          Hehehe thank you for validating my “studies.” x

    • alex

      I wear the HUHD BUN. I saw mka wearing it once. LIFE. CHANGING.

  • Melissa Santorini

    Your posts aren’t showing up on bloglovin’! I have to constantly check back to the main MR website to see if there’s a new post. What gives?

    • Charlotte Fassler

      All of them or just this one?

      • Melissa Santorini

        All of them.

        • Amelia Diamond

          Strange…looking into this for you now. Thanks Melissa!! Know a ton of our readers get notified this way.

  • Lucy

    You nailed it with The Antenna…. The style at our fashion forward middle school in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN was to take the two front pieces on each side of our part and SPIN THEM TOGETHER (with water/saliva…) TO FORM TWO LITERAL ANTENNAS THAT WERE CONSEQUENTLY STUCK TO OUR FACE. Sorry for the caps, I had to emphasize how disgustingly ugly we all looked. Lets not forget that this complimented our braces, acne and corpse-like complexion during MN Winter…

    Bumps in my ponytail were also the stuff of 5th grade nightmares.

    • Amelia Diamond

      hahahaah i am dying

  • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

    I do high pony, then I braid the high pony and secure that bottom with another hair tie. It’s super responsive to movement, so it whips my back when I run. Keeps me moving. But I also wear on the daily so that I may be more like MØ!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I do this when I run too so BLAKE LIVELY

    • Charlotte Fassler

      I also do this when I run but the bottom ponytail holder always falls out at some point in the run and it’s a mess.

      • http://Medium.com/@hager_emma Emma Hager

        When that happens I stop my watch, come to a halt, and yell fuck at the top of my lungs.

        Then I braid my hair the same way the next day.

    • Carly

      I feel like j lo when i wear this look. Its super sporty and sexy

  • Patricia Mello

    I only use HUHD ponytails, especially because my hair is short. I think is a look that stays fine in most women and easy to pull it off.

  • https://shopping.yahoo.com/blogs/author/amanda-storey/ MagicalManders

    You have failed to mention the side pony, of which I am a die hard fan. Low and pulled gently to the side it says “My long and luscious pony must be noticed, it is too beautiful to be overlooked in the back”. My personal fave is the medium to high side pony that says “I don’t give a f* if this style went out in the 80′s, I still love it and I still love jazzercise now what?”

    • Amelia Diamond

      OH THE SIDE PONY!!!

    • Melissa

      I also wondered why the side pony wasn’t mentioned. I think it should have mentioned before piggies.

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    Love the no part, slicked back pony but it is so difficult to achieve. Damn. Cute post to read!

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

    • Amelia Diamond

      I can’t do it either

  • https://www.etsy.com/shop/OTRVintageClothing Sam

    Since I slept through my alarm and grabbed a wrinkled t-shirt off the floor before running out the door – I’m working a low pony today: “knowing decision to look put together” indeed.

  • Aubrey Green

    I like when the hair is pulled back, it really frames a women’s face. I like all of those ponytails mentioned, except for the pigtails. I usually do the front bump pony (with way less bump), or slicked all the way back, but I LOVE me a high pony and I will wear it anywhere when I do choose to wear it. Oh, side pony too!

  • Mariana

    I reallyyyyy need to cut my hair, so I’ve been rocking a ponytail for 5 freaking months because I don’t have the time to make appointments and stuff. I’m between Antonio Banderas and no-part, slicked back

  • Lila&Sirena

    I’m a pony girl!! All types of ponytails depending on the outfit and day, but here’s a sleek look that my boyfriend loved so much for some reason http://instagram.com/p/rLPgJWHNDL/?modal=true

    • Amelia Diamond

      You have a PERFECT HAIRLINE. I am jealous.

      • Lila&Sirena

        Thank you Amelia! =)

  • Lila&Sirena

    I like to accesorize my ponytails too!!! http://instagram.com/p/q16421nNN6/?modal=true

    • Zoe

      Ooooooooohhhhh my gosh what is that lipstick!

      • Lila&Sirena

        ‘Lady Danger’ x MAC =) is a must have, Zoe!!

    • http://stylesprinter.com/ Style Sprinter

      This is a good one! I love hairbands too!

  • http://www.9outoften.com/ WengYee

    Such a brilliant guide, why didn’t we have these earlier?! All illustrations are simply spot on brilliant. I nearly died when I saw The Front-Bump Pony though —more of these please.

    • Amelia Diamond

      noted!!!

      • http://www.9outoften.com/ WengYee

        A “What your topknot/bun says about you” would be highly appreciated!

        • Charlotte Fassler

          ooooh That’s a good one. There really are so many versions of the messy bun to explore…

          • http://www.9outoften.com/ WengYee

            Exactly my point. Can’t wait till the next post!

  • CC

    I really want to own the high pony but it almost always leaves me with a migraine. Anyway, here in Singapore – where I’m from – The Antennae is endearingly called the Cockroach Feelers look. If you’re between the ages of 12 to 18 and you don’t have those feelers sticking out, you are like, so not cool. I remember tying my hair back and deliberately pulling out two sections of hair, one on each side, and trimming them from time to time in the morning before school so they didn’t look too deliberate. Ah, adolescence. Another popular ‘do when I was in school was the Chicken Butt ponytail, where full, long ponytails were reduced to prickly stubs that resemble overused brushes and feathered chicken rears. The thinner your stub was, the cooler you were. Full ponytails were a momma’s girl thing. What the hell were we thinking.

    • Amelia Diamond

      arghh i hate ponytail headaches

      • Sully Ann

        HUHD is usually my solution to avoiding ponytail migraines. No matter how much I want to rock the high pony the pain doesn’t let me!

  • http://surreyedit.com The Surrey Edit

    How about the fishtail braid [that requires great dexterity]? Or dare we not compare the two? surreyedit.com

    • Amelia Diamond

      i feel like braids are a wholeee different story, so maybe one coming up!!

      • http://surreyedit.com The Surrey Edit

        Agreed. Looking forward to it!

  • Marissa

    The newest addition to the family that is quickly becoming popular: the half up half down bun. Only for the most daring or most likely to be wearing Free People.

  • verena fiona

    Low and parted, yeah! Simple and classy!

    Greetings from
    Verena Fiona of http://londonparismailandbla.wordpress.com

  • Bodeline Dautruche

    My favorite ponys to wear were the no part slicked back and middle pony when my hair was straightened. If it was curly I left it to the high pony. It’s fun to switch it up!

    Wonder if I could ever pull off the pigtails. Ha!

  • KB

    Oh man, if my hair was not perfectly slicked without a singular bump I was not going to school. My poor mother! If I have daughters it’s safe to say they’ll sporting bob cuts.

  • Charlotte

    The no-part slicked back pony! Tools make the difference between feeling like one or not. Mason Pearson brushes are game changers. Also (this might sound strange but it works for me) brush and tie your hair upside down. So that your hair is dangling. Every kink will be gone in a blink!

    Side note: Man Repeller is one of the few websites where I bother to read the comments. The comments are hilarious, on point and the MR Team, unlike many other blogs/platforms, replies and take their time :)

    • Charlotte

      “Upside down”. No headstands needed.

  • Carly

    My mom and I recently discovered, while watching (*keeping up with) the Kardashians the other night, that if you practice the “no-part slicked back pony” À la Kim Kardashian style, you can actually tighten your face to an extent of looking like you just walked off ‘Botched’ (I’ve been watching a lot of E! this summer, okay?). Anyway, it seems the Kardashians may have tricked media into thinking they’ve all had face lifts when, in fact, they just know how to work a pony (well, Rob Scheppy does).
    I’m more of a fan of the antenna look, no Advil needed.

  • Melissa

    Mine is the parted low pony although I wear it slightly to the side . . my hair then falls over my one shoulder. I don’t deliberately part it though, just let it part naturally.

    Growing up, the no part slicked back pony that we usually sported for volleyball or basketball games, my friends and I usually referred to as “the turtle”

  • Al

    I’m 32 and currently wearing pigtails sooooo….. you know. Suck it, I guess.

  • Suzanne Stal

    I was born in ’87 and the Antenna was my (hairstyle)life for longer than I care to confess! Awesome (hair)piece ;)

  • Larissa May

    This is amaze.. I used to slick my hair back with water when I put it in a ponytail to make sure there were’t any bumps!!!

    Livinlikelarz

  • http://rightternes.com/ RightTernes

    The no-part slicked back pony is the bane of my middle school memories. Back then I thought a good splash of water would slick it back down when it would just frizz up and make me look crazy. BUT I have since found a new love of ponytails and don’t flash back to #awkward 12-year old moments.

  • Margaret

    I mostly go for a high ponytail, but not too tight or sleek. It gives me a face lift and makes me look taller, too, when it follows my jawline and the line of my cheekbones. I have pretty fine hair, though, and not a lot of it, so I have to be careful not to pull it too tight, otherwise I get these sort of bald spots on the sides, above the ears.

  • Annalise

    This was effing hilarious

  • Niikii

    I sport all of these during the week and strangely (as lame as they are to me) my unrepelled man thinks each one is effing Picaso! Although they are lame ‘dos to me… he thinks they are like… soo… totally amazing looks and is bewildered at how diverse and stunning they are… makes me giggle.

    Your forgot one… The messy as fuk bun… with strategic tendrils around face and from the actual bun itself….

    You act like “what? this old thing” but really you spend friggin hours moulding and remoulding its freakishly messy non-stucture.

  • Maryam (Munch Moda)

    The pony-tail rocks!!! I sport a high pony tail everyday and transition it into a high bun at night. when I want to feel elegant I go for the parted low pony-tail. love the humor by the way.

  • Marta Pozzan

    I love ponytails, I’m the HP type but people in LA don’t understand the beauty of it; they think since you’re a girl you should always have your hair down, nice and shiny, fresh from the dry bar, like real girls do… Sorry, the truth is that it takes a certain ‘I don’t give a ….’ to pull it off xx

  • Lexi

    The high pony with a part!

  • svetanzrus .

    Is a half-bun the same as the HUHD? I like to repel all of the men with the half bun all day long!

  • the coattail effect

    haha it was a bad habit of mine to also scream about getting the bumps out when my mom did my hair

  • http://www.CONJoint.us CONJoint

    Wow. How can women have so much to say about ponytails?!? I guess I must not give a what.

  • http://vanillaelephant.blogspot.de/ Anita Mayer

    amazing post! It’s so true! I think you can see a little bit of the character of a person by looking at their hair
    xx Anita
    http://vanillaelephant.blogspot.de/

  • Katarina Jean Stankovic

    Crying with laughter. “Her mother clearly practiced witchcraft”

  • Kate Mara – The Modern Alice

    Mid pony tail all the way!!! Great read! –and died a little at “Her mother clearly practiced witchcraft.” Absolutely love Man Repeller. One of my favorite indulgence.

    http://www.themodernalice.com/

  • dnotes

    Haha! I wear the high pony tail mostly because my fine hair will lose the hair bands within minutes if the pony tail is not placed high & besides, it’s so easy!

  • http://emikosweridunexplained.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Sawyer

    i wear the bumped in the front, parted one, and the antenna. when im going to bed i do have two high sided ponytails. does that mean im a bit of everything? lol

  • http://www.alonewithmytea.blogspot.com Julie

    The antenna hahahaha we called it the cockroach … so gross.

  • Kristin

    The Antenna always makes me suspicious that the wearer is trying to hide something.

  • Grace

    I tend to rock the antena-style high ponytail, but this is because I have a full fringe and I hate the look of having all my hair scraped back apart from my fringe, which is just… there. I don’t like the way it looks on its own, basically, so I like to frame it with some wispy strands on either side. If I didn’t have the fringe I’d definitely go for the no-part, slicked back look.

    http://bonjourgrace.squarespace.com

  • http://marshmallowsandmargaritas.com/ Jen @ Marshmallows&Margaritas

    I generally stick with the high pony, but occasionally do the low and side-parted pony, for fancier or more business-y occasions. Or a (side-parted) side braid. But never the medium pony! It looks terrible on me, and I will forever associate it with this unfortunate girl from my high school dance team. Her hair was forever falling out of her medium-ponytail, it was always horribly unflattering, and she refused to wear it high enough even for competitions — when we all had to wear our hair and makeup the same way (we even had to use the same curlers, which was problematic since I had roughly 5 times as much hair as everyone else, but I did it).
    I also never understood the appeal of the antenna — don’t those wispy things just bug you all day? I am not strong enough to handle it.

  • Bridget Walsh

    I have bangs so none of these apply. Bangs just ruin life.

  • http://stylesprinter.com/ Style Sprinter

    After reading this post I’ve realized that I’m a ponytail addict :) Meaning, I wear all of the above and even more, like low ponytail with curls and flowers, or curly Antenna. Something like this will also do: http://stylesprinter.com/tricolor-cubicle-chic/

  • rebecca

    Don’t forget the business woman pony tail.

  • rebecca

    I miss the antennae pony. Cany it come back?

  • angelina

    You forgot the Redneck Girl; that’s when you slap on a ball cap and pull the hair out the back.

  • Susannah

    Low & Parted that was my go-to ponytail all throughout high school. I also did No-Part, Slicked Back, inspired by Sade! She was and is the NPSB ponytail Queen!

  • http://asocalledbeautyblog.blogspot.com/ Jessica Anna

    Literally all I do with my hair is put it into a high pony, I’m just used to sweeping it up and getting it out of the way. It’s a very practical style and can be jazzed up to your hearts content to be simple or chic, or both. Cara Delevingne does it well!

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