There have been many trends in hairstyles, but the Bob of the 1920s went beyond a mere fashion statement. It represented the new, and often controversial, attitudes and actions of the younger generation, especially younger women. Although there were other hairstyles, the Bob was the most popular.
The Roaring 20s, also known as the Jazz Age and the Dollar Decade, was an era where women gained newfound levels of freedom and independence. The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote passed Aug. 18, 1920.
The Bob, first popularized by dancer Irene Castle, became a symbol of women's changing roles. Shedding the long tresses of the Victorian era became a hallmark of the "New Woman." Singer Mary Garden stated, "I consider getting rid of our long hair one of the many little shackles that women have cast aside in their passage to freedom. Whatever helps their emancipation, however small it may seen, is well worthwhile."
According to the "Collins Essential English Dictionary," the Bob is "a hairstyle in which the hair is cut short evenly all round the head." However, there were several different variations of the cut each becoming their own unique hairstyle:
The "Dutch Boy Bob," according to the "Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History," featured a thick line of bangs cut bluntly across the forehead.
The "Eton Crop," a very short bob, was a severe masculine cut slicked down close to the head that appeared predominantly in 1926 and 1927.
The "Shingled Bob" featured a bob cut to the occipital bone in back and tapered below this point to form a "V" at the nape of the neck.
Many other styles, like the Moana and Chesterfield, were developed by adding spit curls, finger waves or Marcel waves to a basic Bob cut.
One of the 20th century's greatest writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald, wrote about the Bob in his short story, "Bernice Bobs Her Hair."
To discourage women from bobbing their hair, opponents published pamphlets containing dire warnings suggesting that women who bobbed their hair would grow a mustache or go bald.
Actress Clara Bow and blues singer Bessie Smith both wore their hair in a Bob.