May 20, 1922

By Gregory Clark, May 20, 1922.

Every girl would like to bob her hair.

It is the irrevocability of the act that deters her.

Even marriage is not so final and therefore not so fearful a thing as bobbing hair. With marriage one can still change one’s mind. One can return to live with Mamma.

But bobbed hair puts a girl into the unbearable position of not being able to change her mind. There is no retreat, no evasion, no camouflage possible.

Every girl, as soon as she has her hair bobbed immediately wishes she hadn’t. Some of them cry. Some of them have what used to be called conniption fits. But that is merely the violent revulsion of the female mind on discovering that it is in a predicament from which it can devise no escape.

If she doesn’t like her hair bobbed, there is only one thing she can do – wait for it to grow. And that means months of weary waiting while the hair grows straggly and stringy, and nerves wear out in the desperate effort to make the hair look as if it were either bobbed or put up, and knowing that it looks like neither.

But that thousands of girls in Toronto have had their hair bobbed is proof of an ability to make up the mind which is enough to confound the bachelors.

The appointment with the bob barber, or coiffeur as he describes himself, is invariably a terrible ordeal. When the shears take their first bite into the long locks that have been the subject of a traditional and life-long care, every girl nearly dies in the chair. One bob barber says that ninety-eight per cent of them emit a moan at the fall of the first gob of hair onto the floor.

When they see themselves for the first time in the glass, before the curling irons have made it look frizzed out, they are filled with dismay. After it is curled they are reassured, for bobbing invariably makes a girl look years younger, and that flatters all of them over eighteen.

This bob barber tells of one girl who made three appointments with him for the fatal operation, and canceled them all. Finally, after several weeks, she made a fourth appointment and came. At the barber’s she went through the motions of changing her mind four times more. She would sit in the chair and then leap up with a scream as soon as the barber picked up his scissors. She actually put her hat on to go home. And when the barber held out her coat for her she took her hat off again, and with pale set face seated herself in the execution chair.

Pitying the poor young lady the barber decided to get the ordeal over as quickly as possible. So he made one vicious swipe with his scissors and cut off about a pound of hair at one snip. Sure enough, the girl had one more opportunity to change her mind, and she leaped up screaming, glanced at herself in the mirror, and fled home. She came back an hour later with her mamma and had the lobsided effect removed by a nice short bob.

There are no hairpins with bobbed hair, no putting up, no fussing with it. But there is curling. Not one girl in a hundred can wear bobbed hair straight. They all think they can until they see themselves in the glass and curling bobbed hair is a daily necessity. The bob barbers and hair-dressers make a great business out of curling bobbed hair. Not only the regular hair-dressing establishments, but numerous of their employees who have cut loose and gone into business on their own, are crowded with curling appointments. It takes a week to get an appointment with many of these public and private hair-dressers. By private is meant certain of them who won’t take a client unless she is introduced by one of his older customers. That’s how good the bobbed hair curling business is.

Bobbed hair is another evidence of the emancipation of women. It is more significant than votes, and the privilege of sitting in parliaments and the councils of men. It is a step in spiritual progress.

It is a voluntary sacrifice of the immemorial right to change their minds.

Editor’s Note: Women bobbing their hair as the new style was an iconic symbol of the 1920s.