“So, I want it kind of rough and ready but like really shiny and smooth and kind of chin length but shoulder-draping lengthy and like straight but a bit curly and a crass golden blonde. Wait a minute let me get my People Magazine out!”
That was the conversation held in thousands of hair salons in the mid-1990s as women everywhere tried to describe a bouncy, shoulder-draping, square-layered hairstyle the “Rachel Cut” aka “The Rachel”. Named after and inspired by the hairdo of Rabbi Rachel Karen Green, the Jewish character played by actress Jennifer Aniston in the sitcom Friends which was then at the peak of its popularity. This definitive 90’s hairstyle, the precursor to the “modern shag”, is at its core a layered, shag cut with a grown-out fringe, built upon a foundation of long, sleek, golden blonde tresses. Its layers bring out cheekbones and jawline, resulting in high cheekbones and a strong jawline. Its zigzag middle part, and the resulting cosmetically-smooth hairline, prevent the hairdo from obscuring the wearer’s face—the hairstyle keeps the hair hanging on the sides of the face—thus facial features are kept front and center. This is done without backcombing at the crown; backcombing at the crown creates volume and results in a smooth, rounded bouffant—e.g., the Grune. The Rachel is made to order for oblong faces, and is perfect when you want volume, but you don’t want a bouffant. Words to the wise, the lack of bangs means that the forehead is left exposed. It was the most popular hair fashion fad of the 90’s and the envy of all women. It also inspired many a “just got out of bed” hair product, for example one of the originals Tigi Bed Head.
Alas. Too bad, so sad. Fashion icons come and go—i.e., fads transition into fashion faux pas. This once definitive hairdo is no longer considered hip. These days, the Rachel is seen as just another dowdy outdated mop hairdo. Hence its contemporary moniker: mopp. Worse: in post-modern parlance, a mopp is as old fogey as strait hair—i.e., hair worn let down into straight, shoulder-draping tresses, nothing more and nothing less. Not even worth a Victoria’s/Victor’s Secret moment in Vogue magazine or Cosmopolitan. Yawn.
And … What is Aniston’s take on the milestone haircut?
It was smooth, full-bodied, and almost as much of a ‘90s sensation as “Friends” itself, but Jennifer Aniston never cared for the haircut that became her signature look on that hit sitcom. And, she is not shy about revealing why.
“I’m not a fan of ‘The Rachel’,” she told Glamour magazine. “It’s kind of cringe-y for me.”
As for why she didn’t care for the ‘do that so many other women wanted, Aniston revealed that it was just too hard to maintain without professional help.
“Looking back … honestly, even during that time … I couldn’t do it on my own,” she said of the hairstyle. “I needed [my hairstylist] Chris [McMillan] attached to my hip. Left to my own devices, I am not skilled with a hairbrush and blow dryer, I don’t do magic, and I can’t do ‘features’.”
Well, that was three reasons she didn’t like it. In a 2011 interview with Allure magazine, she was a bit more direct.
“I think it’s the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen,” she said.
And in 2013, when the radio hosts of “The Kyle and Jackie O Show” asked Aniston if she’d rather shave her head one time or wear “The Rachel” for the rest of her life, she didn’t hesitate with her answer.
“Shave my hair once, definitely!” she said.
“Long, natural-looking beachy waves,” she told Glamour. “That feels most like me.”