The Bob Is The New Helmet Hair

When AD and I moved to our current home eight years ago, we visited many a church looking for a church home. By default, we became professional church visitors.

At one point we decided that we should start a business secret shopping churches. We would visit your church and then, for a small fee, we would send a follow-up report letting you know how we were greeted, were the restrooms clean, did anyone help us find our Sunday school class or invite us to lunch and if you are indeed as friendly as you think you are. Probably. Not.

Be that as it may, one of the churches we visited was very near to our home (points), had a modest but nice, paid-for facility (no building program, bonus points) and supported traditions and doctrine that jived with our own (triple bonus points). The down side was that no one in the congregation was under the age of 70.

In spite of being in the middle of a vibrant area known for its growing population of young families, this was a graying congregation. Now let me say here, there is nothing wrong with old people. In fact, probably by your standards, I am one myself.  But I think in a church, it’s important to have a good mix of old and young and in between. It’s just better that way.

Stick with me. This really is about hair.

As I was sitting in one of the last pews of this church one Sunday morning, staring out over a sea of gray heads, I came to the startling realization that all the ladies had the exact same hairdo, the hairdo I think we all know as helmet hair – slightly blue, shaped just so, perfectly starched and sprayed into place. Like a helmet.  Hence.  It was sort of like the The Stepford Wives meets The Golden Girls.  A curious phenomenon.  How does helmet hair happen I wondered.

Well, I’ll tell you how it happens. At a certain point in your life, your hair will decide which hairdo you will be stuck with for the rest of your life and you will be powerless to stop it.

In the past ten years, I have had my hair cut in approximately ten different styles and yet my hair always looks exactly the same.  I’ve had the Rachael, the Spice Girl (the skinny one who is mad all the time), the flippy (both the flippy under and the flippy out), the just-got-out-of-bed, the wispy, the spiky, short layers and verily I say to ye, even long layers. Yet the first time I shampoo and blow dry after my “new” haircut, I have a bob. It might be a short bob or a slightly longer bob, but it is a bob all the same.

One of these days some young gal will be sitting behind me in church looking at my bob among a sea of gray bobs wondering how in the heck that happened.

The bob.  It’s the helmet hair of the new millennium.

50 thoughts on “The Bob Is The New Helmet Hair

  1. I know your post was about hair, but I couldn’t get past the church secret shopper analogy – my hubby and I got pretty good at that too!!
    Am enjoying your blog. Thanks for sharing!

  2. All the old ladies here have what I think of as the “mushroom” do, maybe it’s the same one: Short and slightly permed in a bowl-shape up top, and even shorter and straight beneath. Bleh!

    Not that I should talk, my hair has been long, loose (now graying) unstyled hippie hair since I was about 2.

  3. Ooh, I shouldn’t have “bleh’ed”, apologies to readers with the mushroom do (now I blush in shame at my rudeness).

  4. I have the same problem. When my hair is long there is one style that it gravitates to, and when I have it cut short there is one style that it gravitates to.

  5. As I was reading Brigitte’s comment, my hand floated to my hair and started feeling for a mushroom shape.

    No worries, mine’s not permed. Just teasing Brigitte.

    I personally love the bob (I *heart* Bob) but my hair is even too fine and thin for a cute bob. Hence, the short hair for the rest of my life. sigh.

  6. OHHH too funny!!

    I grew my hair out for 1 year, then went to a stylist… do whatever looks good, I told her. I came home with this cute do… then the next morning I had no idea how to style my hair. LOL

    So — of course, it looks the same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

    The next time I said, “Do the same thing — which was cute the day you did it — and TEACH ME HOW TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THAT.” I got the longest hair cut in the world. Looked cute… I came home armed with “product”… got out my tools… TA DAH!! When done… it looked the same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was…

    Now I know why!!!

    AM SAYS: At a certain point in your life, your hair will decide which hairdo you will be stuck with for the rest of your life and you will be powerless to stop it.

    THANK YOU so much for clearing that up for me. °Ü°

  7. This whole post is sooo hilarious and sooo true! First off, the church secret shopping. I could write a book. We ‘visited’ various places for about 5 years. ugh. And the hair thing.. I just went through this thing where I was going to grow it out, but it still looked exactly the same. And then one day, she had this great idea and she cut it and I went home and styled it. It did not ‘go’ with what my hair just wants to do. So I called her right back and ran back to her place and asked ‘can you get me back to where we were before we started this whole growing out mess?” yes. done. So now she laughingly tells me she won’t let me try anything new. This. is. just. my. hair. So true!

  8. (Pulls her bathrobe up to hide her bob…)

    * * * * *
    You’re in good company here sister. And oh, morning bob? Not so pretty, at least at my house. It’s more like smashed and lopsided bob. ~ AM

  9. I used to work across from a salon and loved to watch the “older” ladies as they exited. Just about all the same styles and blue hue to their hair. Margie

  10. could you be the prophetic voice to church ladies of the millennium? maybe you should submit this to “christianity today”…hair: a theological perspective.
    thanks for the comment on my blog…it was so exciting i had to call my sister:)

  11. I recently read an article about a guy who provides the “secret shopper” report for church goers.

    It sounds like he makes pretty good money too.

    I wish I still had the link. Sorry.


    * * * * *
    Rats. I thought I had invented something. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. ~ AM

  12. I actually had this conversation with someone at work yesterday. I have had long bob, short bob, layered bob, stacked bob, but when you get right down to it – my hair has looked the same for the last 15 years.:)

  13. my best friend and I were talking about this not long ago. We have been friends for 20+ years and we both have almost the identical cut to what we had in our junior year of high school….I was never fortunate enough to be able to develop big hair in the 80s…my hair is so thin and fine it just falls flat in seconds and her folks wouldnt allow her to do the whole big hair thing…
    We are both starting to show some wear but our hair looks the same…LOL

  14. I couldn’t agree with you more. I thought I went recently from longish hair to shortish hair, but actually I went from slightly long bob to slightly short bob, and no-one noticed.

  15. There is a certain serenity that comes with the realization that your hair has a mind of its own. I have curly hair…very curly hair. Unfortunately for me, I was a teenager in the late ’70’s/early ’80’s. No straight, feathered hair for me. I spent a tremendous amount of time fighting with my hair in an attempt to look like all the other girls. It wasn’t until I was about 30 that I finally made friends with my hair. It’s so easy…I just spray a little styling goo in to it, diffuse it a little, and I’m good to go. This information would have been very handy back in 1982!

  16. Your post of every day observations are my favorite and usually the highlight of my day.
    And, I couldn’t agree more.
    Try as I may to have a different style, I inevitably return to the angled bob. Short in back, longer on sides.
    I’ve always wanted long luxurious tresses, but if it grows very long at all I end up looking like an old dried up hag.
    Helmet hair, here I come!

  17. Do you know there REALLY ARE secret church shoppers – who get PAID? I’ve been married to a pastor for 13 years now, and I just found that out – and they do all that stuff you talked about. Go figure.

    And, I get you on the hair – why does it do that? I think I’ve got this totally new look, and no one else even notices? Hair with a mind of its own – I don’t need that – I’ve got children for that.

  18. 1) I totally get your comment about the elderly and church. A church that doesn’t have young families in it is…a dying church. The elderly with their fixed incomes cannot support the needs of the building as it ages…or the programs required to attract young families. It’s just a fact. The elderly are a valuable component of any worship group, but in and of themselves…they cannot sustain a congregation alone.

    2) I wonder if helmet hair isn’t a somewhat contemporary offshoot of the Victorian times when a woman who married “or came of a certain age” stopped wearing her hair down and–instead–pinned it up.

    3) My mom has never had long hair. It’s always been short, but she does hold with the outdated notion that grown women ought to have their hair “cut and fixed”. Fixed as in…not moving. It’s a slow and gradual mutation from shorter hair, to even shorter hair that you can sort of do yourself and then before you know it? You’re having it done for you each week at the retirement home? I don’t look forward to that, because blue (even on hair) has never been my best color.

    * * * * *
    I know for a fact that you have fabulous hair. No helmet in your future. You will be the babe of the retirement home. ;0 ~ AM

  19. I crave hairstyle change like chocolate. Like good chocolate. But your theory stands true. So now, I just change the color. I’m a redhead whose mother is aghast that I would ever want to change color. Sorry, Mom. It’s nothing personal. Love my real color. But I like the change. So for a few months I was red with some highlights, then I switched to lowlights, then I went mostly blonde, now I’m mostly brunette. I’m having so much fun! But the style? The style is the same. Maybe for Mom I’ll go au naturale after Christmas. By then it will feel different.

  20. My hair cut may have remained the same, but the color has just changed over the years. Dark brown, medium brown, reddish, brown with subtle highlights, more highlights, even more highlights….

  21. Every time I try a new cut, my hair always ends up looking the same as it did before the cut. I have come to accept that it will only do one thing and I am just going to have to live with it whether I like it or not (and I don’t.)
    It used to have a lot more natural wave and I could always make it look the way I wanted it to. But now it seems that the older I get, the more wave I lose and now my hair just won’t do anything except stick out on the sides…..

  22. This post is SO funny! I’m totally with you on the hair thing. I’m 39 and about three years ago, I finally quit fighting with my hair and let it do what it does best. And do you know what? It bobs best. If I’d discovered this in high school, I could have saved myself from a lot of REALLY BAD perms and cuts.

  23. Maybe I’m ahead of my time, but I WANT the bob. I thought the bob was cute and sassy. I’ve tried several times to do a bob. Alas, my hair doesn’t “do” bob. I am the anti-bob. Bob in the stylist chair=frizzy fro at home. So I will be the one little old lady with the long hair but wishing she had the helmet.

  24. The reason old ladies have “helmet hair” is because they have standing appointments at the salon every Friday. My husband hates it when I get a haircut and the stylist blows it dry and then sprays the helmet in place. He claims that I do a better job on fixing my own hair….this is his way of being cheap. Actually, I really believe that hair grows a certain way on a head and no matter what you do to it….your hairdo is going to look the same way…sort of, that’s how the follicle falls!

  25. I, too, have had every hairstyle you named in the last ten years. I, however, have come to embrace my inner and outer bob. My stylist laughed when I told her that I have finally decided not to waver from the bob because it just works so well for my hair. I am fortunate in that I have great bob hair – thick, slightly coarse, and on the day after it’s washed, it only gets bigger, not flatter.

    Yes, the bob IS the new helmet hair.

    I love that Steel Magnolias was quoted – that is soooo my mom! My opinion on current helmet hair is that anyone who had a true beehive in the 60’s, early 70’s now falls “victim” to helmet hair. My mom is also one of those. She, however, washes her hair EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. And curls it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It takes her two hours (most of it is hair) to get ready, but I ‘m not bitter about that…

  26. Oh no! I cut mine into a ‘bob’ recently… albeit kinda choppy and flippy. Something tells me that I will have this ‘do for a whiiiile to come.

  27. Hi, I am not sure how I got here but I sure stayed a long time. Read the ‘Box’ story and was very touched. My own mother rolled a stone over the entrace to her heart…I never used those words, but it sure applies. I have said she was a hard woman. One BIG difference…she loved her children and Grandchildren. Had not much use for anyone else though. I think I might put you on my favorites. I almost hate to do that. Silly of me, but, these blog friends take up time. I usually pic people that might remotly comment on my blog because they don’t have 40 comments of thier own. Darn it though, I like your writing. (0:

  28. I let my hair grow long in 1982, in 1988, and again in 2006. Other than that, I’ve had the exact same short hair style, which if you’re old enough you’ll remember as going along with women’s bow blouses in the 1980s — though I never had that blouse — since 1981.

    It’s true. My hair has its style, and there’s little I can do about it.

  29. Exactly! Long or short, my hair looks the same, falling forward on top. Lately I have tried to tease it a little at the crown to get it poofy instead of flat and then spray it; I hate the look and feel of that. When the wind blows it up or over, it stays there. I also have a cowlick at the crown which complicates it. I call the helmet the “old lady style,” and I do try to avoid it! I have to say tho that having seen women and girls going thru chemo, I am blessed to have my hair, in style or out.
    Another blog idea maybe, but the coloring of hair– now that’s another story. My husband said if I let mine go gray, he’ll dye it in my sleep. He doesn’t want me to “look like an old lady.” It is so expensive, and I go as long as I can stand it before getting it colored. I am so embarrassed when my roots show as badly as they do now. I tried doing it myself once, and it did not turn out to be a color of hair. Again, maybe another blog idea. (What brand works when doing it at home?) But, alas, I need to practice what I’m preaching and be thankful for my “here, Mama, there, Mama, shinin’, waxin’, flaxin’, beautiful HAIR!”

  30. I totally relate to this post. I, too, am in the same situation. My hair just bobs. Naturally. I see pictures of myself as a child and there it is….I was bobbed then. I have been in this same dilemma of the last hairdo of my life. My granny had a precious little twist and wore her hair up all the time. I believe I am going to go that route. Lots and lots of hairpins though. Otherwise, my little twisty bun would be in a bob knot. Trust me. It’s true.

  31. We were just at a book sale at school with my daughter and I spent time reliving my childhood. My favorites were definitely Little House on the Prairie and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.

  32. When I get my hair cut I always say that I don’t want a bob. I think that they are so used to doing that cut and THAT is why it always ends up being a bob.

  33. I have a permanent, Mary Tyler Moore-esque flip that won’t quit unless I cut my hair really short.

    Right now I’m feeling too cheap to get a haircut at all, so it will be interesting to see what happens to my flip as my hair gets longer – maybe I’ll even like it!

  34. Both my mom and my mother-in-law have the bob. They are two classy ladies that I could only hope to become. I am kicking it old school…like a century ago. Every hair cut I get turns into the bun. Pray for me.

  35. I know what you mean. Last night I colored my hair for the first time and got a new cut. It looked great. Then I got up this morning and I swear it looks just like it did 2 days ago. I know I didn’t dream it.

  36. I have bob hair too. The only way to get something different is by putting it in a ponytail — aka the “mom ponytail.” Exciting choices.

  37. I agree with you on the hair thing. I think the real problem (at least for me) is I can’t really figure out how to style my hair any other way, and so it does end up looking the same no matter what the cut is. I have never mastered the flat iron, and though I long for my permed locks of the 80’s, I can’t cover the gray and perm, so the covered gray straight hair wins =)

  38. That’s it…..I’m growing my hair out!! I’ll be the little old lady with the longish hair, in a bun or chignon, or in a clip hanging down my back. It’s rather elegant, don’t you think? No little old lady helmet head for me!!

    And on that note, can we borrow some of those older saints at our church? We seem to be the other way, a TON of kids and young families and very few older saints. Six pregnant ladies in a church of 150. Go figure.

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