100 years of the bob

// 9 January 2009

Once upon a time, husbands divorced their wives after they cut their hair into a bob. This year the style is 100 years old.

According to the Metro:

The eye-catching cut was invented in 1909 by Parisian hairdresser Antoine de Paris, whose inspiration was Joan of Arc. It was picked up in upper-crust Bloomsbury circles in the early 20th century and then by flappers.

But its arrival in America in the 1920s sparked controversy, which reached fever pitch when preachers declared: ‘A bobbed woman is a disgraced woman.’

This is an interesting history of the bob, as well.

I found this story via Harpymarx, who writes about her own experience with the bob:

I first had a bob when I was 14, can’t remember why except had my shoulder length hair hacked off into a Louise Brooks style bob. I liked it as I had seen many silent movies where the women had that specific hair cut (from Joan Crawford to Clara Bow). I also had the urge to smoke Gauloises, for some unknown reason, especially as I didn’t smoke! I felt cool and sophisticated sitting in my ‘O’ level art class painting still life, talking politics and thinking about my burgeoning feminism.

Unfortunately, my hairstyle stuck out as it wasn’t trendy at the time to have a bob and the other girls in my class (and in the whole school) used to back comb their hair to accomplish a Siouxsie Banshees look or spiky bleached. My bobbed hairstyle stood out, like a sore thumb. Well, I was always kind of odd in an anti-social way but even I capitulated. My bob grew out and I went back to an unremarkable shoulder length hairstyle pulled back into a ponytail. I wish I had stuck with the bob a bit more cos, hey, I may have started a trend in my school…

Photo shared by pancakes barbara, under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

aimee // Posted 9 January 2009 at 3:36 pm

I have my hair in a bob, because long hair pisses me the hell off! It gets in the way ALL the time.

maggie // Posted 9 January 2009 at 6:51 pm

I’m with you aimee, I love my bob.

It’s neat and tidy. Not that you would think that of me if you came to visit – I’m clean but this is a family home!

The picture illustrates a bob that I aspire to. Do I have to nerve to print it and take it to the hairdresser?

Kate // Posted 10 January 2009 at 12:30 am


I had a dyed black bob from 14-19. I also smoked Gauloise. I liked the aesthetic of Louise Brooks, but did not realize Gauloise were cool. I stole them from my dad. As for the hair.. I think it made people afraid of me, except for the gays and goths — They loved it.

Laura // Posted 10 January 2009 at 2:35 am

I also had a bob and wouldn’t go back in a million years! It was always getting in my eyes when I did sport! Now it’s a bit longer than shoulder length, long enough to tie up and keep it out of the way but not so long it gets tangled on things (pre-bob it was very long indeed). Generally all is well. Plus with anything shorter I’d have to go to the hairdresser more often.

Laura // Posted 10 January 2009 at 2:39 am

Oh, and while I’m here if anyone is inspired by this to go and get their long hair cut into a bob, remember that if you’re cutting off more than 10 inches you can donate it to Locks of Love (http://www.locksoflove.org/) or Little Princesses (http://www.littleprincesses.org.uk/) and they make it into wigs for children that have lost their hair.

harpymarx // Posted 10 January 2009 at 9:45 am

Thanks Jess for the link…

I too have a bob now and have for the past couple of years. Very simple, sleek and chic. Easy to maintain. And I wished I had stuck with the bob I had when I was 14 but was desperate to fit in!

JenniferRuth // Posted 10 January 2009 at 1:34 pm

That was really interesting – I never knew that the bob had such a political background. I suppose that what women do with their appearance is always going to be more political than what men do…

I have very fine hair so I could never carry a bob! I can only do really short or really long. I had a very short “boy” hair for a long time, but decided to grow it on a whim a couple of years’ ago. Strangely, I find it much easier to cope with now it is halfway down my back.

Emily // Posted 18 August 2009 at 3:45 pm

on saturday i got seven inches cut off my hair and it is now styled in a bob a bit below my chin! I had always been so attached to my long hair but now i realize hw much better I look! Starting to wish i went even shorter…..1

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