Injury That Led To A Rebellious Hairstyle

Irene Castle’s injury that began the change of how men view women in society and how it led to numerous rebellious acts against society.


On this day 100 years ago, an article ran in the newspaper commenting on the dramatic changes happening to women’s hair. It was just part of a bigger transformation in society brought on by World War I, and none were more sweeping than the roles played by women in society. The biggest changes in America came with the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, which allowed them to have the right to vote in society. But women also began to confront and rebel against the confining social role of women.

Irene Castle and her “Castle Bob”

One could argue that the popularity of short hair began almost by accident. Irene Foote, also known by her stage name “Irene Castle,” was a woman of fashion and celebrity icon to women all over the Western world. People believed in her fashion style and followed her footsteps. She was a ballroom dancer who performed on Broadway and in other silent movies. Irene Castle is also known as the woman who revived the modern dancing tradition.

Irene, costumed by Lucile for Watch Your Step, 1914

In 1914, Castle suffered from appendicitis, and the procedure caused her to cut her long hair into a short bob in order to wash and come it more easily during recovery. At first, Irene Castle did not believe that this short hairstyle was something that society would accept; however, when the public noticed her and her unique hairstyle one night while she went to dinner with her friends, without covering her short hair, the press decided to publicize it and use this as a sign of Castle’s rebellion against tradition and impractical hairstyles for women.

Billie Dove’s Iconic Spit Curls

Another huge change in hairstyle began when women decided to change their way of arranging hair which enabled them to uncover their ears from their hair. Traditionally, women were supposed to cover their ears. Even the Castle Bob hairstyle covered the ear; however, the women took another step in the rebellion from society by uncovering their ears. This allowed them to appear more man-like because the long hair and covering man-like features used to be considered as a woman-like style. The uncovering of ears might seem to be a small change in hairstyle but in 1919 it was a huge rebellious act against men in society. People at the time were accustomed to puffed out hair from the sides or short hair going down to the jawline but they could hardly recognize women after they uncovered their ears and changed their hairstyle to a more man-like hairstyle.



“Vernon and Irene Castle.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Nov. 2019,

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Vernon and Irene Castle.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 22 Jan. 2016,

“Girls Now Permitted T o Show T heir Ears In Public Places Style in Feminine Hair Dressing.” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), December 7, 1919: 34. NewsBank: Access World News

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