131. Big Ass Bows, Not the Hunting Kind

19 Nov

A few of the eight million and twelve bows at the Canton Flea Market

A few of the eight million and twelve bows at the Canton Flea Market

It might surprise y’all to learn that folks here in Seattle do not know the first thing about hair bows. Or maybe they just stay hidden underneath the hoodies. I might have caught a glimpse of one once or twice on a little girl in a fancy dress. But that may have been a dream, seeing as you hardly ever spot Seattleites of any age decked out in a festive manner.

I honestly haven’t thought much about hair bows over the last couple of decades, but a trip to the Canton Flea Market brought the memories flooding back. Turns out, Southerners are still wearing them. I sort of thought they were an 80’s thing that went the way of banana clips.

me and bowI guess I should have known better, seeing as my relationship with hair bows began farther back than I can remember. Fortunately, there is photographic evidence.

For Southern girls, hair bows are perfect for any occasion, from beauty pageants to basketball games–and not just for the cheerleaders, players too! (I just Googled “basketball hair bows” to see if I was just talking out of my ass in that last sentence. Lo and behold, there are actually basketball-themed hair bows. Who knew?)

colorful hair bowHair bows come in all colors of the rainbow, as well as many that don’t actually exist in nature. You’ll find solid colors, stripes, polka dots, plaids, floral prints and countless combinations thereof. Pick up any ribbon off the shelf at Michael’s, and I’d be willing to bet somebody’s made a hair bow with it. (Note: I’m not wagering actual money.)

As I’ve mentioned before, Southerners just love slapping their initials on anything even remotely decorative, so there’s an endless variety of monogrammed hair bows. From a single initial on up to all three. Plain or cursive, embroidered or painted, whatever you like. Heck, you can even put your whole name on there if your parents were considerate enough to give you one that would fit.

monogram bowOne day, some Southern mom decided that a plain old hair bow just didn’t express the essence of Billie Sue. And so, voila! Themes! From Hello Kitty to Minnie Mouse, ponies to puppies, whatever you’re into (within reason), there’s a bow for you. Bubble gum! Lady bugs! Cupcakes! John Deere Tractors! Even skull and crossbones for the goth kids! Need I mention there’s a hair bow for every holiday candy manufacturers celebrate?

Of course, there’s always somebody who takes a good thing too far. And then the million followers who come along for the ride. So now we have a whole crop of affiliation hair bows. Sororities! Alma Maters! SEC teams! TV shows! I haven’t run across a “First Baptist Church” hair bow, but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist.

ms state bowHow does one wear a hair bow? As far as I can tell, anything goes. My mom was always partial to the top of my head, but plenty of folks wear them on the side or the back. With ponytail or without. Straight hair, naturally curly, or permed. You’ll even find bows attached to headbands for hair-challenged kids. Braids? Ringlets? Sure, why not? Some might suggest they ought not be worn with dreadlocks, but that’s likely a moot point.

john deere bowA dyed-in-the-wool bowhead might persist in embellishing her hairdo with ribbons up until such time as she eats her last chicken salad sandwich. I believe most folks retire the hair bows early in their 20s. Perhaps it’s a rite of passage when one finishes college, gets married, has a kid or all of the above. There’s no law in place, but I’d suggest that hair bows be confiscated from anyone with gray hair or grandkids, whichever comes first. Call me ageist if you like, but I, myself, fit into one of those categories.

I’m not suggesting that we Southern women of a certain age be deprived of decorating our heads altogether. The horror! Ladies, we have something far better than hair bows: Hats! (Stay tuned for an upcoming post on God’s gift for bad hair days.)

Have you ever worn hair bows? If and when did you stop? Extra credit bonus question: Why?

Photo credits: Canton Flea Market bows and Portrait of a Young Bowhead from Holloway Family Archives. All other bows available at ETSY–Colorful Bow by NothingLikeBOWS, Monogram Bow by Prettyloulou, MS State Bow by BiancasBoutiqueBows, and John Deere Bow by PolkaDotzBowtique.

13 Responses to “131. Big Ass Bows, Not the Hunting Kind”

  1. Anonymous November 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Our daughter was 5 and playing on her first soccer team. I had dressed her in her uniform and added a cute matching bow to her ponytail. When it came time for her shift in the goal she was twirling around and got her bow caught in the net. All of a sudden a player is coming right at her to score. The Dad behind me freaks out because she was fiddling to get the bow lose. He yelled something but she saw the player got her bow undone and deflected the ball. No score for the other team and that Dad had to eat his words. Her father never let me put a bow in her hair for another game. 🙂

    • Kim Holloway November 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

      That’s hilarious!! Who says folks can’t be fashionable and sporty at the same time? Three cheers for your daughter!!

  2. Elizabeth November 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    I’m sure that bow you saw in Seattle was mine. Every summer we come “home” for a month in the summer from Virginia, with a separate suitcase just for hair bows and accessories. Joking, sort of. There is nothing I like more than seeing my 5-yr-old tearing around the park, hair flying, bow bouncing. I just love ’em. Every third shop in my town has a rack of bows like yours pictured, but I like making them myself. No embellishments, close-as-possible match.

    • Kim Holloway November 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

      Hey Elizabeth, next time I see a 5-year old with a bow here, I’ll be sure to wave! Love the thought of an extra suitcase just for hair accessories!

  3. Betty November 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Wow. I’ve never worn bows. But then, my hair is not long enough to support some of those pictured.

    • Kim Holloway November 20, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      That’s funny, Betty! Some of those bows are a bit overwhelming!

  4. Hope @ Fairhope Supply Co. November 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    My son used to differentiate his grandmothers by calling them, “The one with the bow” (southern) and, “The one with no bow” (northern). It was an age-approved low and smallish bow that matched her outfits, of course.

    • Kim Holloway November 20, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      That’s hilarious, Hope! Love the thought of telling relatives apart by their accessories!

  5. Debbie November 21, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    I’d almost forgotten about those ginormous bows, Kim! My niece always wore one, sitting directly atop her head, even when she barely had hair right after she was born! You sure don’t see much of that in the Midwest.

    • Kim Holloway November 26, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      Debbie, I bet your niece looked just darling, with or without hair!

  6. Tiffany November 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    I played basketball when I was a kid (only for a year and only because I knew I would be the only girl on my team!) and thought the uniform was so hideous. So what did my mother do? Made me a matching hairbow, of course. I wasn’t allowed to wear it during the actual game (perhaps they heard of the soccer incident above), but my “official photo” had that bow! 😂😂😂

    • Kim Holloway December 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

      Oh that’s hilarious, Tiffany. Only a Southern mom would try to add a decorative flair to a hideous uniform! Considering the soccer incident, it’s probably best you weren’t allowed to wear it in the game. Hate to see a bow get caught in a basketball net…

  7. Alexandra February 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    There is a medium size pink lace hair bow holding my bands out of my eyes as I type hahah! I find at me age (25) I am at that awesome age of hair bows and gorgeous hats. The hair bows will stop at 30 for me 🙂

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