History Lesson: When The Bob Was A Scandal

F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the greatest American novelists, most famously known for The Great Gatsby.  Based on what happened to Daisy and to other female characters from his writings, he certainly did not support women's liberation.  The Great Gatsby explored societal gender expectations and the American dream.  Fitzgerald dabbled in short stories as well, and five years prior to Gatsby, Bernice Bobs Her Hair appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.

Spoiler alert!  Bernice is a country tomboy who goes to visit her cousin Marjorie in the big city.  Marjorie and her mother think she is a social disaster and will hurt 

Marjorie’s chances of meeting boys.  Bernice allows her cousin and aunt to teach her how to get a man’s attention and flirt.  One of the lessons is to tease a man about bobbing her hair; only unmoral, liberated women bobbed their hair and threatening to wear that style elicits much attention.  

I want to be a society vampire, you see,’ she announced coolly, and went on to inform him that bobbed hair was the necessary prelude. She added that he wanted to ask his advice, because she had heard he was so critical of girls.
— Bernice Bobs Her Hair

Soon she has a gentleman caller- a guy Marjorie had on the back burner!  Instead of being happy her cousin isn’t socially awkward, Marjorie publicly calls Bernice's bluff: she wouldn't dare bob her hair.  Backed into a corner with all her new friends watching, Bernice reluctantly allows a barber to bob her hair.

...that this hair, this wonderful hair of hers was going — that she would never feel its long, voluptuous pull as it hung in a dark brown glory down her back.
 That's so wrong

That's so wrong

It looks awful, it's a scandal to the society ladies who were throwing Marjorie and Bernice a party,  and she gets made fun of, so she goes back home.  But before she goes, she cuts off Marjorie’s hair for a souvenir!

A century later, and although F. Scott Fitzgerald's works still influence American society and culture, his attitude toward the bobbed hair of the liberated woman is extinct.  Modern interpretations of the 1920’s bob oozes out of the world of fashion and beauty right now. Marcel waves, jeweled hair accessories and feathers, to name a few, have reached the red carpet and the masses.  

During the time Fitzgerald wrote, only “liberated” women wore short hair.  It was 

considered rebellious to cut your hair if you were a ripe fruit waiting to be picked 

for courtship and marriage like Daisy Buchanan or Bernice. Today, women celebrate modernity with their own style.  If they want to cut their hair, they will!  We have the pleasure of giving women that feeling of being liberated everyday in a positive way.  It is a powerful job we should not take for granted.  

It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like the morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.

When I read this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald I thought, Wow!  This sentence is what I strive to do everyday for my clients. Ask a hundred hairstylists why they got into the beauty business and at least 90 of them will say something along the lines of: “To make people feel beautiful,” “To make people’s day,” “Because when someone feels good on the outside, they feel good on the inside.”

Marjorie is like an original Mean Girl.  Don’t be a Marjorie to your guests.  Make everyone in your chair feel special and  liberated.  The women of the 1920’s didn’t rebel so the following century could conform!  These days, the outside of the box is endless.  Blue hair, shaved sides, hair painting and more!  The creative possibilities are endless.