For 19 years, I was a part of a church that believed in “standards”, rules that prohibited everyone in the group from certain ways of dressing and attendance at certain functions.Women couldn’t wear pants, cut or trim their hair, or have slits in their skirts. No one could show any part of their torso from their collar bone to their calf to their forearm. People couldn’t go to the movie theater, a skating rink, a bar, or a sporting event. They were not to dance, own a television (or watch movies or shows any other way), or have Facebook or other social network accounts.
Historically and Biblically, they were on shaky ground:
Women were told to wear skirts because Deut 22:5 says a woman shouldn’t wear what pertains to a man. They said pants pertain to men and skirts pertain to women. Sure, in today’s culture everyone wears pants, but only women wear skirts. However, show me a typical man who would shop for his jeans in the woman’s department. Yes, women’s clothing has changed over time. It has become more practical, more functional (overall, at least). But are skirts really the dividing line? There were other things that “pertained to men” within the last 50 years or so that became acceptable even under some of the strictest standards: skirts/pants that button or zip in the front rather than the side or back, suit jackets tailored after mens’, and tailored shirts that button in front. (http://www.clotheslinejournal.com/shirtwaist.htm)
1 Cor 11 talks about hair. Really, it talks about veils and proper decorum in services, in keeping with the rest of the book. There’s no other passage in the Bible that could be construed to be discussing uncut hair or even long hair on a woman. When the Jerusalem Council sent word to the gentile churches about what was proper, they wrote about eating blood, eating foods sacrificed to idols, meat of strangled animals, and sexual immorality. (Acts 15:29 and 21:25) If clothing and hair were so important, why were they not mentioned in either of these passages? Surely Greeks and Romans didn’t adopt traditional Jewish clothes when Rome conquered Israel! We were often told that women never cut their hair until the Roaring Twenties when the flapper style and bob came into fashion. However, this is also historically inaccurate. Though the majority of women did not traditionally cut their hair SHORT prior to the ’20s, they did cut it at times. In Victorian times and prior-some believe beginning in the 1400s-women would cut locks of their hair to give to a lover, close friend, or family member. These locks were often woven into intricate designs, watch fobs, or jewelry and became an (now little known) art! (http://www.victorianhairartists.com/victorianhairworkhistory.php) Anyone with a more literary bent only has to think back to Loisa May Alcott’s Little Women or O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi for other examples of earlier times’ feelings on women cutting their hair–in both stories, someone cuts their hair and sells it. Though in both the one who cuts their har is seen as doing something out of the ordinary, there is no moral implication named as to why it shouldn’t have been cut. Both stories were written in a time when morals were woven into stories, but in both of these, the women are seen as self-sacrificing and loving.The only disappointment expressed is that their hair was beautiful in it’s longer form, not that anything was wrong with cutting it to begin with.
Can you think of other historical evidence that these were not new in the 1920s-50s? If so, please share them.