This is an article about hair. It’s not an empowering feminist essay about body hair, nor a stylistic look at haircuts and how they evolve. It is an article about hair or rather one hairstyle in particular. Today I’m going to talk about the ‘Lob’, also known as the long-bob, and why this hairstyle is more than just a hairstyle.
The Lob marks a milestone in a woman’s life, the moment when she stops conforming to outdated views of femininity and instead chooses not to hide behind her hair. It often marks another sadder milestone, employed when a woman is going through a breakup. The Lob is about practicality, of embracing adulthood and departing from schoolyard days. But the Lob is also about beauty, but rather the beauty of the individual and choosing it over what society dictates for you.
The Lob is a hairstyle, but it also so much more.
When you’re growing up, your hair is everything to you, and most girls are desperate to grow it. You beg not to be taken to the hairdresser, and once there, you try to defend your long locks no matter how tangled or split they’ve become. Some go as far as to cry over the cut hair, seeing each inch as an inch less beautiful. Because at some point, we were raised to believe that long hair is gorgeous, and anything other than it is less so. Maybe it comes from films and TV shows, where all the female characters wore long glossy locks. Maybe it’s the enhancement of our femininity, of detaching ourselves from the boys through these hip-reaching hairdos. Maybe it’s that desire to be older, as the older you are, the more likely your hair has grown past your shoulders.
Wherever it started, it remains cemented into the majority of girls. We’re desperate to have longer hair, and coincidence or not, all the most popular girls feature hair down to their waist. Long hair becomes inexplicably linked with femininity, to the extent that short hair is viewed as masculine or less attractive, no matter who is wearing it or how they are. Hair is also closely wrapped in identity, or at least we believe it to be. One of the first things you’ll notice about someone is their hair, and it’s also how you quickly spot someone. And often, when we try to picture someone, especially someone that we haven’t seen in a while, we think of their hair. I know people who have never changed their hair, and I can’t imagine it personally, as I use my hair as a chance to express myself as I am now compared to last year.
Our hair plays this dual role of hiding us yet also highlighting us. And so the decision to cut it off is all the more drastic. You may believe the Lob isn’t such a dramatic shift, as it isn’t as short as a Bob haircut or a Pixie. But it’s about the contrast, from urging your hair to grow, eating every food they recommend or even turning to those gummy vitamins, and then removing all of it.
It’s a scary transition, as a literal weight is removed from you, which can be both freeing but also discerning. Inches of your hair is cut off, and suddenly people can see your face. People can see your figure. Your mask of hair is gone, and now you’re left with this short haircut and no clue how to style it best.
But the Lob should be seen as a statement, as a rejection of everything you were wrongly taught. Your beauty doesn’t come from your hair, as every type of hair is beautiful in its own right. You don’t need long, heavy hair to determine how attractive you are. Moreover, you don’t need to be attractive. You don’t need to wear long hair that takes you time and effort to deal with, simply because someone will find you sexier for it. Your hair is for you, and so it should be worn how you want it to be, rather than what you were taught you should want. By chopping off your hair, you are deciding how you want to be beautiful. It’s the first step down a road that includes body positivity, accepting body hair and no longer ‘needing’ makeup.
I’m not saying that a Lob isn’t beautiful. I first cut my own at eighteen, when I was plagued by an eating disorder and obsessed with what everyone thought of me. I don’t even know precisely why I did it, as it was such a spur of the moment, but it felt like something had to change, and this was the first step. I cut off all my hair, the hair I had spent years growing and an hour daily taming, and I never looked back. Seven years later, and I’m still cutting my hair shorter each time, and I’m so thankful for it.
It’s a tale as old as time. Girl gets her heart broken, and girl cuts her hair off. The post-breakup haircut is a familiar sight, one we often joke about. But more often than not, the post-breakup haircut involves dyeing your hair or getting a Lob, and I think there’s a reason for the latter.
Firstly though, I think that we shouldn’t look at the post-breakup haircut as a sad thing. It can be categorised by a broken heart and many tears, but the haircut usually marks the first step toward being yourself again. You cut off your hair, the hair that they complimented so often, the hair that they knew you with. It’s about transformation, about setting yourself on a new path and with a new identity. You are no longer who you were when you were with them, you’re growing into a new version of yourself, and your hair is a marker of this.
So why is the primary post-breakup haircut a Lob? Well, it could refer to our earlier points of redefining your femininity. Too often, women in relationships feel over-sexualised or reduced to a traditional gender role. It could be that you need the most drastic change to feel different, as you may be in quite a delicate place. Or maybe you’re looking for the most straightforward cut to deal with, as you can’t handle the thought of styling a fringe or pixie cut right now.
Either way, I love when women implement the milestone of a post-breakup Lob. I think it’s a chance to recapture their image, as too often we feel that our body and looks aim to serve our partner, and it’s a great way to remember who you are. It’s also a chance to feel like you stand out, to redefine how you can look sexy. There’s an element to control in the Lob, something we often need post-relationship.
Following the transformation into a Lob-wearer, the individual will often be told that they look older now. I’m not sure if it’s the way that a Lob frames your features, or perhaps the way we connect long hair to youth. As a society, we often fetishise youth, which is another reason I’m all for abandoning the concept of hair and beauty, as it is really a link between youth and beauty.
Alongside looking great, short hair can also be a matter of practicality. Having hair that’s easy to deal with and doesn’t get in your way, and that requires less product to tame. This may be why it feels like a grown-up step to cut your hair short, as you’re choosing practicality and an individual style. You’re foregoing the childlike notions surrounding long hair and deciding for yourself.
I think that everyone needs to try having a Lob at least once in their life, just to know what it feels like and prove that they are in control. People often say that they’re not sure if it will suit them, but I’ve never seen someone who didn’t look good with it; I’m starting to doubt that this is even possible. Even if you grow it out afterwards, you’re doing so because you want to, not because you assume you have to. You know that you can have your hair short or long; you can shave off your hair if that’s what you want! The point is that it remains a choice; your femininity or beauty is not associated with your length of hair.
Hair may seem like a frivolous topic, and maybe you’ve reached the end wondering how I wrote an entire article on the subject, but I could write many more. Because hair isn’t frivolous to the individual wearing it, it’s an opportunity for expression; it’s a matter of comfort and identity. Hair is like the security blanket that we still drag around, so it’s a bold decision to rip that blanket away. But when you do, you’re left with a new chance to define yourself, with the realisation that femininity doesn’t come from hair, and no one can take it from you without your permission.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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