The Bob: A Revolutionary And Empowering Hairstyle

By | April 12, 2019

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American actress Louise Brooks, shown here in 1929, was known for her daring short bobbed hair. Source: (John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)

Prior to the 20th century, the vast majority of women kept their hair long but pulled up in buns or braids. Long hair, in fact, was a symbol of femininity. To wear one’s hair short was quite scandalous…which is exactly why young women began cutting their hair in the early 1920s. The bobbed hairstyle of the twenties was a form of social rebellion that helped women take a step closer to gender equality. And it helped give rise to a new industry that was predominantly women-owned…hairdressing salons. 

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Ballroom dancer Irene Castle, shown here with her pet monkey, created a stir when she cut her hair short in 1915. Source: (

Fashion-Forward Irene

The bob of the 1920s actually got its start prior to the beginning of the decade. In 1915, famous ballroom dancer, Irene Castle, cut her hair short just before having surgery for appendicitis. She thought that it would be easier to wash and comb her hair during her convalescence if it was shorter. Before this, Castle had a reputation for being a style icon and trendsetter, so cutting her hair was not a decision Castle took lightly. Once she fully recovered from her illness and surgery, Castle was ready to hit the dance floor again, but not ready to debut her bobbed tresses. She wore a turban to hide her hair but was persuaded to join friends out for dinner with her hair uncovered. The public went wild for the daring new hairstyle. It became known as the Castle bob.