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For further reading on big hair in the eighteenth century see: Kate Hulman’s “A Short History of the High Roll,” Common-Place, vol. 2, no. 1 (October 2001). 

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Hair fashions

Men and women in both England and America dressed their hair in a variety of ways, with wigs, powder, hair ornaments, and curls.

Women might powder their hair, curl it, or increase its size with pads of hair hidden inside their own hair. These rolls of false hair, made from animal and human hair, were pinned in place under a woman’s own hair, which she carefully combed to hide the fake.

With a big enough roll, a woman could increase her height by several inches. The style, copied from the mother country, signified that a woman was a wealthy consumer, who was both informed about the latest fashions and able to afford the hours of leisure that achieving such a look required.

In England, feathers and other objects were inserted into increasingly elaborate and large hairdos. Big hair became the subject of satire in several political prints of the revolutionary era.