Why the Bob Has Remained an Iconic Feminist Symbol For Over 100 Years
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Our favorite designers, street style stars, and magazine editors are obsessed with the bob for spring—it’s been deemed the season’s “It” cut, and for good reason. The iconic style has a storied past that can be charted back centuries ago, worn and beloved by some of the world’s most revered feminist icons, like Amelia Earhart, Aretha Franklin, Irene Castle and Coco Chanel. As the fight for women’s rights has spread to the masses thanks to the current political climate via social media, fashion, and beauty, it’s no surprise that the bob has returned as one of 2017’s must-have hairstyles. Today, we’re taking a look at how the bob represents feminism throughout time, through the eyes of two stylists who cannot get enough of the ‘do—Amy Farid and Corey Tuttle.
“Blunt bobs are back because feminism is major right now,” exclaims Farid. Tuttle recalls its origins, reminding us that “strong female personas throughout history have been defined by their bob hairstyle from Cleopatra to Joan of Arc”. In the 20th century, the bob was a marker of the first wave feminist movement in the 1920’s, as the fight for suffrage reached a tipping point. That era was also denoted by the emergence of flappers, who “chose to stop wearing constricting corsets and dresses and opted to shorten hemlines and hair length,” Farid reminds us. The hairstyle completely debunked the Western beauty myth that long hair was more beautiful and more feminine. Flappers were also seen as going against gender roles, as only men were accepted as having short hair during that time period. This was a period where progressive women took ahold of their power and their appearance, and rewrote the guidelines that defined the beauty of the era.
A little over three decades later, “the blunt bob was modernized in the ’60s from Vidal Sassoon,” advises Tuttle, with the icon’s “five-point cut”. Twiggy’s version was undoubtedly one of the sixties’ go-to styles, though First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis was a close second with her more voluminous, bouffant iteration. Diana Ross and The Supremes weren’t far behind–their chic looks were the perfect complement to their smooth dance moves, gorgeous makeup, and statement-making fashion.
Flash forward to the ’80s and ’90s, where the power bob reigned supreme. “Individual style and thought really became encouraged,” states Farid. “Women who had that bob just exuded confidence.” Think of Salt-N-Pepa, Christy Turlington, Teri Hatcher, and Winona Ryder. The cut also became a signature of the third wave feminist underground movement of the Riot Grrrls, who spoke out about female empowerment, sexuality, racism, and so much more in their punk-influenced music.
“Currently, we are in this great new age of feminism,” affirms Farid. “I think as trendsetters we always pay homage to our ancestors who did it first consciously and unconsciously. We find ways to make the bob new or modern and fit into our lifestyle.” Case in point, the “long” bob that gives the modern cut whole new life, as well as all the ways hairstylists, celebrities, and beauty bloggers are adding braids, glitter, hair color, and more to the style to take it up a notch.
Tuttle believes, “the bob will always be in fashion.” And we couldn’t agree more. “The bob is the perfect face-framing hairstyle and the bluntness of the cut makes the hair look so exceptionally healthy.” We happen to be all about girl power around here, so we’re in love with the bob and the way it has come to represent feminism throughout centuries. We’re happy that our favorite mane lovers are embracing the style to showcase their individuality and activism and we cannot wait to see how hairstylists continue to iterate on the iconic style for decades to come.