A couple of weeks ago, my fellow opinions columnist, Andrew Kocis, wrote an article about how similar our generation, the Millennials, is to the post-WWI “Lost Generation.” It was about this same point in history where the controversial “bob” haircut grew in increased popularity and I can’t help but compare it to the pixie-cut trend that’s going around today.
Smack in the middle of these two generations was the super long, straight hippie hair of the 70s. So what made us come full circle?
While the shorter styles of today and the bobs of the ’20s could be described as sassy, feisty or shock worthy—especially with women who previously had much longer hair—it can’t be denied that historically it did have a more masculine vibe to it.
This feels like a jab as a feminist. We don’t want to “be men.” But we can’t escape the idea of looking more independent when you have short hair, like a man. You want that stereotype of boldness but reject the stigma of being “less feminine.”
The bobbed women of nearly a century ago first gave up their locks when they left their roles as housewives and went off to replace the men in the workforce. The controversy arose because culture saw it as a loss of femininity, calling this shift in gender roles “the lost sex.” But of course the women secretly loved it. They didn’t want to “become” the men. They just wanted to be a different kind of woman, one that wasn’t cooped up in the kitchen.
And then the war ended, the men went back to work and the women went back home. But the bob stayed through the Roaring Twenties and spread until the initial shock had become a mainstream style for younger women. They had tasted a new kind of freedom and did not let it go easily.
With the rise of feminism/equalism and the fight for LGBTQA rights, our generation as Millennials is in full swing and the tides of culture are turning. Pixie cuts may have been around for a while—i.e. 1950s Audrey Hepburn—but they have recently become a more respected form of style and self-expression. In a way they neutralize the ground between what it means to be a “man” or “woman.”
Like the push to refer to a “feminist” as an “equalist” instead, because of the developed stigma of the former and the genderlessness of the latter, maybe we are well on our way to viewing this über short style of hair as less of “she wants to look like a man” and into just “a person with short hair.”