lifestyle

The bob is back! Does the world’s most popular haircut herald a new roaring 20s?


Name: The bob.

Age: Originated in the 1890s.

Appearance: Short, unfussy, wildly popular.

For the sake of clarification, we’re talking about the haircut, right? No, we’re talking about Bob Hoskins. Of course we’re talking about the haircut.

Why? Because it’s back, baby. It’s the most popular haircut in the world.

Émilie Marie Bouchaud, AKA Polaire
Émilie Marie Bouchaud, AKA Polaire. Photograph: Imagno/Getty Images

From what I can tell, scraggy, grown-out DIY jobs are the most popular haircuts in the world. But that’s only because of lockdown. It’s estimated that the bob is subject to 222,580 monthly Google searches.

Hang on, did the bob ever go away? It goes through periods of popularity. It was big in the 20s, then the 60s, and has burbled in the background since. Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel cut was a bob. Victoria Beckham’s old hair, long at the front and short at the back, was a bob. Amélie had a bob. Rosamund Pike had a bob for some of Gone Girl.

But you said it originated in the 1890s. Yes, that’s thought to be down to the French actor Polaire. When she unveiled it, one publication called her “the ugliest woman in the world”.

Charming. Anyway, it’s back. It’s short and low-maintenance, which is exactly what people need as we stroll out of lockdown. Better yet, it rejects the idea that only long hair is feminine, so it’s also a quiet statement of rebellion.

And you say it exploded in popularity during the 20s? Yes: a time of flamboyant decadence, as the world emerged from the shadow of a vicious and violent pandemic that limited their social freedoms and … oh, I see what you’re getting at.

Audrey Tautou as Amélie
Audrey Tautou as Amélie. Photograph: Allstar/Momentum Pictures

The bob’s revival is a sign that we’re heading for a second roaring 20s. Quite possibly. It’s predicted that, once the threat of Covid is over, society will fling itself into a new decade of abandon. As the Yale professor Nicholas Christakis puts it, expect “sexual licentiousness”, liberal spending and “a reverse of religiosity”.

That sounds amazing. Doesn’t it? But you should probably stop reading the history books at this point.

Why? Because the unbridled consumer spending of the 20s prompted the stock market crash of 1929, which caused a decade-long depression the likes of which the world had not seen.

Oh. And this, in turn, caused fringe extremist political parties to rise to power in Europe, triggering the worst global conflict in history.

So you’re saying I shouldn’t get a bob? Not unless you want to help start the third world war, no.

Do say: “The bob is a symbol of social and economic recovery.”

Don’t say: “Next up, mullets!”



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