As distributers of ReGenesis™ by RevitaLash® Cosmetics, our pretty amazing global anti-ageing hair care range, we are always interested in a good hair story.
It was whilst I was watching the last season of Downtown Abbey, the award winning British costume drama, that I started wondering what inspired women in the twenties to crop their hair.
Hey ladies, have you ever noticed how often men try to prevent us from cutting our locks? Across cultures and centuries women have always been discouraged from cutting their hair. There is even a passage about it in the bible “If a woman has long her, it is her glory”!
Up until the turn of the 20th century, short hair was considered to be very “risqué” but then something changed. According to popular belief it was the “flappers” who were responsible for this change. They were a generation of young western women in the 1920’s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behaviour. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving cars, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.
However, the truth is, it was thanks to women like Clara Tice, a Greenwich Village bohemian; a sort of turn-of-the-century Instagram Influencer!
As early as 1908, Russian women intellectuals and revolutionaries who disguised themselves when hiding from the police inspired her. When they emigrated to the US their hairstyles came too!!
In 1913, personalities such as Irene Castel, a famous dancer of that period and Louise Brooks, the twenties silent movie star also popularised the ‘it’ hairstyle that flappers would strive for over the next 15 years. In 1920, the New York Times published a feature claiming that short hair was no longer reserved for cool urban circles but for everyday women too. Of course, men in general were … not thrilled!
Many hair salons refused to give bobs and even Scott Fitzgerald wrote a short story “Bernice Bobs her Hair” warning young women that by cutting their hair they would almost certainly become social outcasts! Even Vogue was sceptical in the beginning but this didn’t discourage women from having the chop. Some women resorted to men’s barbershops, cutting their own hair or asking their doctors to diagnose hair loss to justify getting a bob.
With time this new trend began to be accepted which in the end boosted the beauty industry. In 1920 there were just 5000 hair salons across the US but by 1924 this figure had quadrupled to an amazing 21 000.
That said, the next headline-breaking pixie cut didn’t come until several decades later with the iconic 1953 film ” Roman Holiday” staring Audrey Hepburn. In the film a princess goes undercover and in doing so cuts her hair. It’s funny to see today how the hairdresser portrayed in the film is scandalised by this.
Another defiant woman with short hair was Leslie Caron in “An American in Paris” screened in 1955. She tried to persuade her stylist to cut her hair short based on a style that she’d seen in her native France but when she refused she cut her hair herself reportedly delaying filming for weeks!
In 1957 Jean Seberg cropped off her long blonde hair to play « Joan of Arc » and in 1957 her pixie cut made the headlines in the film « Breathless » and to this day it remains one of the most popular styles that women take along to the hairdresser for inspiration.
The next decade would be very significant for the modern day “pixie” and in the swinging sixties London hairstylist Vidal Sassoon created the famous, avant-garde five point cut and the following year old Super Model Twiggy received the experimental bob that would bring her to fame at just 16.
In this era women wanted to feel young, fun an sporty as well as wanting to make a statement so when Mia Farrow cut her own hair as an act of passion in the TV series « Peyton Place », the authors writers were forced to write an explanation into the script. Of course the press speculated that she did it to spite her then boyfriend Frank Sinatra but actually …. he loved it! After that, Vidal Sassoon took the credit for her pixie cut by trimming it (shortly after her own cut) for her role in Polanski’s « Rosemary’s Baby ».
By the 70’s short hair no longer turned heads and over the next few decades just about every female celebrity gets a pixie cut at one time or another in her career and for the most part it’s no big deal. However, in the dark depths of the internet some men continue to claim that women with short hair cannot be trusted … yes really … but at the end of the day guys … it’s not about you!