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.
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