Wednesday, 25 January 2012

History of the Bob Haircut

BOB History ...
Hairstyles of the 1920s created more controversy in hair fashion than in any other period of American culture.  And one hairstyle, known simply as ¾“the bob,” would be at the centre of this great debate.  First introduced during the Great War, the bob haircut would eventually cause a revolution in the way women would wear their hair ¾forevermore. 
                                                                   Louise Brooks

Women in the west have usually worn their hair long. Although actresses and a few advanced or fashionable women had worn short hair even before Word War l -for example in 1910 the French actress Polaire is described as having a shock of short dark hair  a cut she appears to have adopted in early 1890s. The style was not considered respectable until given impetus by the inconvenience of long hair to girls engaged in war work. Renowned dancer and fashion trendsetter Irene Castle introduced her Castle Bob  to receptive American audience in 1915. Popularised by film Star Colleen Moore and Louise Brooke in the early 1920s ,it was then seen as a somewhat shocking statement of independence in young women.     

Tears and smelling salts accompanied the sacrifice as shorn cascades of crowning glories tumbled to the floors of barbershops.  Men raged over the female invasion of the barbershop but at that time, the-cutting-of-hair was still a male-dominated occupation.  In some cities, long lines of women were reported standing outside barbershops while inside, many women patiently sat on floors waiting their turn to be bobbed.  In New York City, reports of up to 2,000 heads.

By 1925, the bobbed hair controversy still raged.  A teacher in Jersey City, New Jersey was actually ordered by her Board of Education to let her hair grow!  The Board claimed that women waste too much time fussing with bobbed locks.  Preachers warned parishioners that “a bobbed woman is a disgraced woman.”  Men divorced their wives over bobbed hair.  One large department store fired all employees wearing bobbed hair.

Pina Menichelli
The Bobbed-Hair offensive got under-way in 1917, the date verified in the journal of Paul Morand : For  three days now the fashion has been for  women to wear short hair.
Everyone has adopted it, with Mme Letellier and Chanel leading the way....
Bobbed  hair  was  shocking, irreversible, and on the whole, grudgingly accepted. Only by means 
of the most absurd ruses did  women get their  families to tolerate the new style. Thus Colette, in 
order to appease her in-laws, pretended that she had accidentally overturned an oil lamp onto her loosened hair . But in sacrificing , at the instigation of her husband , Monsieur Will, tresses measuring some 1.58 meters (about 5 feet) she involuntarily anticipated fashion by at least a decade . This was in 1903 , when , in  the company of a similarly coiffed Polaire and an Opra- hatted Willy, her appearance in  a theater box created a scandal , causing Willy to be know along the boulevards as " the man with two monkey!.

And to make matters worse, the bold and daring flapper pushed the envelope even further when she subjected herself to the shingle bob causing even more controversy.  In a letter to the editor of a professional hair publication, one parent deplored this newest version of the bob:  “From the rear, it is hard to tell a girl from a boy, since the advent of the shingle bob.”  And, “I’ve raised my girls to be women and my boys to be men, but since the advent of this shingle bob, I have to look twice at my own offspring to tell which is which."

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