Bob’s got shingles

Lady Walpole was not impressed with the modern woman of the 1920s

“Girls these days are insane, inane, Eton-cropped, useless, idle and mannish. They smoke doped cigarettes, use bad language, wear practically no clothes and are an abomination to their fellow creatures.’


Lady Walpole was not alone in her opinion. And many blamed this change in young women to the rage for short hair.

“While King George took no official position on the controversy surrounding bobbed hair, Queen Mary preferred if ladies with short hair would in some way conceal that fact at court functions or royal ceremonies. Hair additions were commonly used to cover the shingled back. Many women actually saved their long locks just so they could use them over their new haircut.


A teacher in New Jersey was ordered by the Board of Education to let her hair grow back. The Board claimed that women wasted too much time fussing with bobbed locks. Preachers warned parishioners that “a bobbed woman is a disgraced woman.” Men divorced their wives over their haircuts and one large department store fired all employees who had the new cropped styles.


According to an article published in a New York City paper, “some devotees of the hair-bobbed fashion are complaining of ‘shingle headaches.’ ” The medical profession believes this is nothing but a form of neuralgia caused by the sudden removal of hair from the tender nape of the neck, thus exposing it to the blustery winds. In any event, a new medical term — shingle headache — was coined from the bobbed fad.


Young men didn’t fare much better when they started a fashion trend of their own.

“Flannel trousers 20” wide at the base have become the rage at Oxford. They come in startling shades varying from canary yellow to wisteria blue. This announcement was followed by a symposium of opinions from the sort of people who always contribute to symposiums – a bishop, a general, an elderly actress and a Harley Street surgeon. All these persons tied themselves up in knots about Oxford trousers, hinting that they were somehow connected with atheism, effeminacy, the decline of the English theatre and chills on the liver.”

Published in: on November 16, 2010 at 7:19 am  Comments (38)  
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