Bandanas, bandanas, and more bandanas
Hello and welcome to the second installment of my Eliza Dushku rewatch marathon. Today we are looking back on the amazing 90s beauty of cheerleading classic Bring It On. Yes it was released in August 2000, yes it still counts as 90s.
Bring It On is a social critique disguised as a teen movie about cheerleading. A rare, particularly at the time, competitive, female-oriented comedy full of what writer Jessica Bendinger calls “bitchy empowerment.”
Bring It On is the story of the East Compton Clovers, a predominantly black inner-city cheer squad, having their routines stolen year after year by the overwhelmingly white affluent Rancho Carne Toros who are then rewarded for the routines again and again. “Every time we get some, here y'all come trying to steal it, putting some blonde hair on it, and calling it something different,” says Clovers captain Isis in a confrontation with Kirsten Dunst’s character Torrance. She’s talking about cheerleading, but it’s a sentiment about cultural appropriation that could be applied to everything from box braids to voguing.
Amid the film’s explorations of culture, privilege, race, sex, and class are some amazing beauty looks. As you might expect from a 90s movie full of cheerleaders there’s plenty of icy blue eyeshadow, elaborate hairstyles, scrunchies, excessive use of a crimping iron and so, so many bandanas. Here we look back over the best beauty looks the film has to offer.
The standout star of the film is undoubtedly the bandana. Almost every character at some point is seen in a bandana. Main character Torrance sports multiple different bandanas including a red crochet number. Toros cheerleader Courtney matches her bandana to her dress, while in the Clovers’s first scene, two of the three main cheerleaders are wearing bandanas. Worn folded up or as a head scarf, in a rainbow of colours, the bandana is truly the hair accessory for every occasion.
TORRANCE’S ELABORATE HAIRSTYLE
At the beginning of the movie, as Torrance eagerly awaits to find out if she will be named head cheerleader, she is sporting a hairstyle so elaborate it's hard to do justice in an image and even harder to describe.
MISSY’S AUDITION HAIR
Missy is the bad girl of the Rancho Carne Toros, the hardcore gymnast among the perky cheerleaders. To make sure everyone is aware of this, she appears in her first scene with a fake barbed wire tattoo, a wallet chain and her hair done in grungy twists. Not the easiest look to pull off but Eliza Dushku is so hot she literally looks good in everything.
Blue eyeshadow is the bandana of make-up in this film. An old classic that the girls turn to time and again for every occasion. Unlike the bold blues of the 80s, here the look is kept pale, icy and subtle.
ISIS’S HEART BEADS
In the first appearance of Gabrielle Union’s character Isis, the head cheerleader is wearing two small braids at the front of her hair with heart beads in the colours of her team. It’s cute, full of the team spirit you want from your head cheerleader and easy to recreate at home.
TORRANCE’S CRIMPED HAIR
An unsurprising part of Torrance’s character is that she loves to crimp her hair. Very on brand for her perky, So-Cal personality, she pairs her crimped waves with flower clips and, of course, bandanas.
Clovers’s cheerleader Jenelope has some of the strongest looks of any character in the movie. There’s the purple lipstick she pairs with a red headband, the burgundy lipstick and butterfly clips she wears when they crash the Toros’s football game, and my personal favourite the bandana/scrunchie combo when we first meet her.
Courtney might put the itch in bitch but she does have great hair. At the tryouts held to find a new member of the squad, she styles her hair curly, held back by a headband with intricate swirls atop her head.
Everyone is looking their best when the Clovers turn up at a Toros’s game to perform their stolen routine and humiliate the home squad, particularly Lava who sports three braid buns and slicked baby curls.
Despite being perky and cheer-y throughout the film, it’s during the two competitions, regionals and nationals, that the cheerleaders reach their full power. Here the ponies are high, impossibly tight, curled to an inch of their lives and tied up with ribbons.