The New Woman of the 1920s: Debating Bobbed-Hair
I Bobbed My Hair and Then—
by Irene Castle Treman
There has been so much controversy over the bobbed-hair craze that I feel I ought to put some of the world right, as to my side of it at least. I do not claim to be the first person to wear bobbed hair; in fact, I believe there are a number of people who, like myself, picture Joan of Arc with shorn locks! There have been several periods in history when women wore short hair. It is easier to be the first person to do a thing than the first to introduce it, and I believe I am largely blamed for the homes wrecked and engagements broken because of clipped tresses. I do not wish to take the blame, because in a great number of case I find the responsibility a serious one and the results a “chamber of horrors.” Don’t Bob Fine Hair
Don’t think I am knocking those who may have followed in my footsteps; I am indeed honored, and in four cases at least that I know of it has been the making of a very individual and even beautiful person out of one who would not have attracted attention before. To start with, one must have the right sort of hair; and rather small features also help to bring about satisfactory results. There is, however, no hard and fast rule to be followed, for I have often been fooled myself and delightfully surprised. The girl with coarse and straight hair, however, is likely to ruin a perfectly good disposition by cutting it. I first cut off my hair while at boarding school—too many years ago to tell!—so that I could go swimming during a vacant forty-minute period and appear in my next class without visible proof that I had been frolicking around on a springboard when I should have been growing wiser and better fitted to become an interesting dinner partner. In a very few days I was shocked to see the outcome of my “sacrifice of convenience.” New bobbed heads popped up regularly each morning at breakfast, and, as the truth leaked home, irate parents wrote indignant letters to the principal, so that the joy and comfort I had found in my short hair became short-lived. I was sent for and the style of my coiffure made very plain to me. As a result, I went through a very trying period, with no knot at the back of my head and hairpins, since they could find no place to cling, falling like hailstones around me. What was still more serious, I had to get up at least fifteen minutes earlier to get to breakfast, for I could no longer shake my head like a puppy after a bath and called it a day. The next time I heard the call of the scissors was just before I was going into the hospital to be operated on for appendicitis. I never liked having anyone comb my hair, so, to assure as little combing as possible, I cut it all off. I say all; it never fell much below my shoulders. After I came out of the hospital I tried to cover up my clipped head by wearing, whenever I appeared in public, a tight turban or toque under which I tucked every spear of hair except some little square sideburns. Those of my friends who saw me in the country without a hat begged me to wear my short hair in public, and so one night when we were going to town to dinner I wore it down, and in order to keep it in place wrapped a flat seed-pearl necklace around my forehead—which was, I think, the beginning of what they afterwards called the “Castle Band.” The Disadvantages
I want to let my hair grow, but lack the courage to face that dreadful in-between stage. I have started many times, but always weakened when my hair looked too long and straggly to wear down and was not long enough to put up. Then, too, I cannot resist the scissors, I love to cut other people’s hair, and have bobbed at least twenty heads. I have often thought I should like a little shop of my own, where I could snip to my heart’s content. It must have started with my early desire to cut up the curtains or anything else I could lay my hands on. There are wonderful advantages in short hair, of...
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