French Boys' Hair: Social Factors

Figure 1.--This French boy in 1953 has a fancy hair style called a "choupette".

Long hair during the late 19th and early 20th century was particularly common for boys from affluent families. This included both weatly families as well as comfortable middle class families. This also seems to have been the case for hair bows. Boys from working-class families were more likely to have short hair. Working class boys might even have shaved heads. As long hair became less common in the 1910s, especially after World War I, shoulder-length hair was no longer seen. Mothers in well-to-do families, however, continued to be interested in fanvy hair styles for their children. Usually this was only possible, however, for pre-school boys. Thus younger French boys through the 1950s might still have such fancy styles which were called a "choupette". A French reader tells HBC that, "It was common for affluent French mothers to make her boy look good with fancy hair styles even in the 1950s. I myself had such hair styles." HBC had thought that this was primarily a style for affluent French families. Our French adviser tells us that "Choupettes could be seen on boys from ordinary families as well and was not a distintic sign of class. Rather it reflected the desire of an attentice mother to make her noy look nice."

Christopher Wagner

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Created: October 6, 2001
Last edited: October 6, 2001