Revival of the bob: a brief history of lobs

by Anna Buckley / Beacon Staff • October 21, 2015

On a Saturday morning, senior Kayla VanFleet woke up and decided to chop all of her hair off—well, not all of it. But eight inches later, with her long locks shaped into a sleek, collarbone-length bob, the marketing communication major had initiated herself into the lob mob.

For those unfamiliar with the style, a “lob” is a long bob, a hairstyle that’s been around for nearly 100 years. Celebrities from Queen B to Jennifer Lawrence have rocked the most recent reincarnation of the shorter style, which is typically all one length, or slightly longer in the front. The bob was originally popularized by movie stars Colleen Moore and Louise Brooks in the ‘20s, when short hair was viewed as a bold statement of independence in young ladies, seeing as older generations were accustomed to girls wearing lengthy Edwardian-style hair.

Interestingly, many Emerson ladies who have embraced the lob still confronted the same stigma about longer hair before cutting it short. VanFleet, who said she feels five pounds lighter and a little less confident after the snip, was known for her long auburn locks.

“One of my best friends used to have nightmares about me cutting my hair—I’m serious,” VanFleet said. “It’s ridiculous how much my hair has been both an identifier and security blanket for me. I’ve talked about chopping it for years, but then last weekend I woke up, made an appointment for five hours later, and forced myself to follow through.”

Similar to VanFleet, junior Emma Glassman-Hughes, confronted a question of outward identity after donating her long, dark brown mane to charity.

“Cutting it was an important reminder that my beauty is not necessarily tied to my princess-length hair,” the political communication major said. “It makes me smile knowing that my hair, which was with me for so long, is now a part of some other girl's or woman's life. Everyone deserves to feel like a princess if they want to. I just sort of outgrew that need—pun intended.”

Julie Whalen, a senior communication sciences and disorders major, said she cut her lengthy blonde hair into a lob because she wanted a dramatic change—and addressed the idea that with age comes a need for stylistic reinvention.

“As we get older, we’re busier and have less time to curl and wash and straighten, so it’s hard to try and fix up longer hair,” Whalen said. “It also gives off more of a professional look, but still can be fun and flirty which is a perfect combination for your 20s.”

VanFleet mirrored this idea, suggesting that it’s become so wildly popular both because of ease and maturity.

“I think the look is becoming more and more popular because it’s just so much easier to manage,” VanFleet said. “It’s still feminine, but a little more grown-up compared to the mop I’ve carried around since I was 14.”

Megan Cathey, who said she loves to change up her hair, whether with lengths, highlights, or dye, is currently letting her lob grow out again. The junior writing, literature, and publishing major said the lob, being longer than a bob and shorter than an unruly mane, is a versatile length.

“They look good on everyone, no matter hair texture or face shape,” Cathey said. “They’re not as high maintenance as a pixie cut or super long hair. It’s a good middle ground.”

While most ladies seem to agree that the lob hints at an independent-women-of-the-21st-century aesthetic, Glassman-Hughes disagrees about the ease of styling.

“Compared to my long hair, I actually feel like the lob is more work—which no one will tell you going into the cut,” she said. “I also have times where I just feel freer because of my shorter hair. The popularity of the lob must be tied to its sort of ‘effortless corporate bitch’ kind of vibe. It looks really professional and flattering, but it's short so the general public is fooled into thinking it's low-maintenance.”