Women “Bobbed” for Having a Bob 1923

Women “Bobbed” for Having a Bob 1923

Bobbed hair, says a cable from London, is rapidly passing out in England. In Manchester hospitals all nurses have been ordered to allow their hair to grow. In future one no one will be allowed to look after the patients with a Bob. Many London restaurants and department stores have issued notices to the same effect. In Almonte the Gazette is informed that bobbed hair is still popular with those who have bobbed it, but is just as unpopular with those who refused to conforn with the rage of short hair. The situation seems to be that there will be no increase in the number of the “bobbed” but– there will on the other hand be a gradual decrease until all the ladies are back into the fashionable long hair once again.

Almonte Gazette November 1923

Most people trace the popularity of bobbed hair in Western fashion back to the 1920s, thanks to the haircut’s close association with the image of the flapper. However, the cigarette-smoking, flask-wielding flapper of the 1920s didn’t exactly start this trend. In 1920, the New York Times traced the origins of the bob “epidemic” to 1903, when two female students at Bryn Mawr college appeared with short hair to play basketball. The article also claims that bobbed hair became popular in Greenwich Village between 1908 and 1912, thanks to the influence of “intellectual women” from Russia who used bobbed hair to disguise themselves from police.

Meanwhile, those who wanted women to maintain their traditional roles as well-behaved daughters and wives did whatever they could to discourage the trend for bobbed hair. Preachers conducted sermons against it, schools banned it and pamphlets warned young women that short hair would lead to a variety of undesirable health conditions. A New York Times article from 1920 says that young women with disapproving parents went so far as to go to their doctors’ offices to be diagnosed with falling hair in order to receive a “prescription” for a bob haircut.

American actress Louise Brooks, shown here in 1929, was known for her daring short bobbed hair. Source: (John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)
The hairstylists who were willing to cut a woman’s hair so drastically found that they were ill-equipped to cut and style women’s hair into the modern bob. They had only even trimmed long hair with shears. The women visited barber shops, instead, where the barbers were willing to chop off their hair and had an assortment of fine scissors and clippers to do a neat job. 

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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. I remember seeing a religious tract in the Metropolitan Bible Church, which said “Jesus said long hair was a womans glory, therefore Bobbed hair is her shame. Stacked right nex to one that began 16 reasons why it is a sin to dance. Couldn’t believe it, at age 15.


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