Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ODD BITS: Great mod moments from Downton Abbey: To bob or not to bob?

One of the shockers on this week's Downton Abbey was Lady Mary's attention-grabbing decision to ... astonished pause ... go thoroughly mod and bob her hair! This blunt-cut hairstyle, favored by flappers, vamps, gun molls, actresses and other women of ill-repute was first introduced in 1915, when ballroom dancer and famed performer Irene Castle decided to cut her hair "for convenience". It was quickly adopted by free-spirited women of the era, whose rebellious change of hairstyle was just the beginning of a major shift in social norms -- especially as they pertained to women -- seen during the Jazz Age. As hair got shorter, so did hemlines.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story "Bernice Bobs her Hair" appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1920. In it, sweet but frumpy Bernice is convinced by her glamor-puss high society cousin that her life will improve substantially if she simply submits to the shears. The story created a sensation, and soon tens of thousands of women were bobbing their hair.

Actress/"America's Sweetheart" Mary Pickford before and after she bobbed her hair in 1928.
This act proved to be transformational for her, as she previously had been known as
"the girl with the curls". "I'm not going to be a little girl any more," she said.

The kerfuffle over bobbed hair lingered into the mid-1920s. Preachers sermonized that 
"a bobbed woman is a disgraced woman". Doctors warned that the "shingle bob" style 
could cause severe headaches. Men divorced their bobbed wives. 
Schools and department stores threatened to fire employees
 who sported the nefarious hairstyle.

By 1927, the straight, severely geometric bob had evolved into a softer cut
that introduced waves and spit curls to create a more womanly look.
Women had made their statement, and understood that
strength and femininity could coexist.

Link here for a brief PBS video about Lady Mary's daring new "do".

Oh ... and I mustn't forget my favorite bobbed TV character,
Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) of the "Miss Fisher Mysteries".
She's dazzling!

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