When I cut my hair, I feel like a new person. There’s a feeling of freedom, besides feeling cooler in this hot humid tropical climate. But, preferring very short styles, I tend to like a boyish ‘pixie look’. It’s cute and very, very easy to manage, especially when you are the ‘wash and go’ type with a lifestyle that doesn’t spend too much time in front of a mirror.
But, when ‘googling’ varieties of short hairstyles in my favorite period of fashion history – the ‘Roaring 20’s” (1920s), I stumbled over some facts about short hairstyles that I thought quite amazing.
Who would think that chopping off one’s locks could cause a storm of controversy? But, that was exactly what happened in the 1920s when young women took to the hairstyle worn by Irene Castle, a famous North American ballroom dancer in 1915. Her hairstyle was nicknamed the “Castle Bob” after her, which was worn merely for convenience. Then, after the 1st World War (the ‘Great War’) more and more women took to the style and a new era was born. It seems to have been the first time in history that women took this ‘big leap’ to shear off their long tresses and shorten their hemlines, much to male bewildered bafflement. Lines of women outside barber shops to have luxuriant tresses cropped short began to lengthen. The ‘Bob’ style seemed to turn into a statement for freedom from patriarchy by women, a statement for independence and equality, so much so that women with cropped hair faced all kinds of negative reactions from husbands, church and employers.
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.”
It even affect the Royals of England, where Queen E’s grandmother held that ladies attending royal functions should wear hair extensions to ‘hide’ their short crops. King George, Queen E2’s father held his peace as his wife did like the style and took to it as well. If you have seen old pictures of the Queen Mother, you’ll understand why.
The ‘bob’, was further modified when women’s hairdressers accepted the style and began to modify and stylize it with perming, waving and ‘shingling’ the original design. This increased controversy…
“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.”
http://www.hairarchives.com/private/1920s.htm- “1920’s piece haristyles”
So, short hair became a trajectory that pushed women right into the 20th century and changed almost everything, but seems to still have fallen short of changing the patriarchal mindset.
Yet, the world learned to accept it, and our crowning glories have been subjected to revolutionary, and some times controversial variation, even to making baldness for women a fashion in the west, in contrast to baldness being a sign of humility and sacrifice in eastern religion as in the case of a Buddhist nun.
However, my short crops still appear to draw some attention and a bit of hassle from certain women’s hairdressers ( but not barbers, which I have visited once or twice) who tell me that it “isn’t nice”, probably meaning that women/girls don’t cut their hair so short or expose their ears. My own reaction is, “Why not?”. Sorry, I am a pragmatist and can’t subscribe to that out-dated traditional mindset of having to grow my hair longer than I like, to attract male admiration or attention. It is better to know the nature of a person than to make judgments based on their external appearance.
Apologies for the lack of photos for this piece, I’m still learning how to download pix. from other sources and hopefully not be sued for it.