Hair scrunchies were the only thing I didn't have to call my reps about this year

Caleb Walsh illustration

It was a good year, right? I mean, apart from all the natural disasters, fake news, the constant and ever-present political shitstorm that seemed to be leading us to inevitable nuclear war, and the Apple glitch that inexplicably turned our I's into A 's. I guess I mean "it was a good year" specifically from a hair accessory perspective. And for many*, 2017 was The Year of the Scrunchie.

According to a few articles in fashion magazines I skimmed, hair scrunchies made a comeback! That's right! Scrunchies! The loose fabric-covered hair tie that was very popular in the '80s and that everyone subsequently tried to forget about has made a comeback! Celebrities are Instagramming themselves wearing them, fashion shows are incorporating them, and handmade organic versions are available for purchase on Etsy. Isn't that exciting?! The best part is you don't even need to spend money to take part in this newly revitalized trend because you probably still have a scrunchie stuffed away in an old Caboodle.

Fashion items advertised in fashion magazines often don't translate into trends among actual living people and, admittedly, I haven't witnessed a whole lot of scrunchie-wearing happening outside of glossy magazine pages. But that doesn't stop me from believing the hype. I completely, desperately, believe the scrunchie hype and am earnestly and solemnly here for it. To be honest, I need this scrunchie comeback propaganda to be real and not just a random clickbait headline I fell for that has no basis in reality. I need there to be one positive cultural takeaway in a year of relentless negativity and hopelessness, and for some reason I need it to be the charmingly casual hair scrunchie. I don't know, I just do.

It's not that I need another way to keep my hair together. I don't think anyone needed that. It's just that this year mostly consisted of being stressed out pretty much all day about almost everything, and having to constantly protest and call reps and sign petitions to protect extremely basic human rights, or anything that might benefit non-billionaires. It was a year of refreshing Twitter hourly to find out to what extent fires or hurricanes or earthquakes or insane tirades from our president were affecting our loved ones. And in such plainly dystopian times, a fun, retro, lovably floppy solution to something that wasn't on anyone's radar as a problem feels so comforting. We needed something trivial and superficial to distract us from all the pain and suffering encircling us on a daily basis, and the hair scrunchie came through. And doesn't that make this —*gestures vaguely to the hellscape behind us* — all a little more bearable?

Scrunchies came to us at a time when we had almost forgotten their existence, bringing the whiff of nostalgia and a promise to hold our hair together loosely and flirtatiously. And they didn't disappoint us. In fact, they were probably the only thing that didn't disappoint us this year. Scrunchies, and scrunchies alone, were a beacon of light in the otherwise apocalyptic-feeling freak show that was 2017. ♦

Chelsea Martin is the Spokane-based author of five books, including Caca Dolce: Essays from a Lowbrow Life. Her website is

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