Get out the throwing wine: ELLE.com is celebrating the best (and worst) of reality TV this week.
Reality may be messy, but the hair on reality TV? Definitely not. Think back to 2008, when The Hills was so popular it made the cover of Rolling Stone, each girl (Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag, Audrina Patridge, Whitney Port) clad in loungewear and, notably, the exact same hairstyle: long, loose curls. It was the look du jour of reality TV stars and, if you watch any of The Bachelor series, has maintained its staying power up to 2019. Why not? It’s easy. Universally flattering. It feigns relatable “Real Girl effortlessness.” But, recently a new hairstyle has steadily been taking over: The Lob. Defined as the length between long hair and a bob, the cut hits just above or right at the shoulders—and seems to be the new go to for reality TV queen bees.
The hair cut is inescapable any time you turn on the TV and the list of wearers is long: Kim Kardashian on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Stassi Schroeder and Ariana Madix on Vanderpump Rules, Bethenny Frankel on Real Housewives of New York, Paige Desorbo on Summer House, Remy Ma on Love & Hip Hop, Dorit Kemsley and Kyle Richards on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Eva Marcille and Kandi Burress on Real Housewives of Atlanta.
When Kristin Cavallari, reality TV veteran going all the way back to Laguna Beach (2004-2005) and The Hills (2009-2010), wanted a new cut in 2016 she chose the lob. “I just wanted something new—something that was a bit edgier. It was just long and blonde, and I wanted something fresh and fun,” she told Birdie of the Chris McMillan cut. She maintained the style into 2018, when she made her first return to reality TV in eight years with Very Cavallari, a show that reintroduces her as a mom, wife, and business owner of the Nashville-based brand, Uncommon James. She’s also a producer on the show. One could see this cut as a symbolic stripping of the drama-stirring persona she embodied in her 20s (“The bitch is back“) and a step into next-level territory.
“Short hair really compliments Kristin’s petite frame. Blonde looks so much fuller and healthier when it’s short,” celebrity hair stylist Justine Marjan, who has worked with Cavallari, says. “Justin Anderson always keeps her blonde in amazing shape, so I love the way the brightness really lights up her face.” She notes the lob is also really versatile, because “there are really endless styling options” and “the length allows you to play with texture and hair accessories in a unique way.”
Marjan, who also works with another reality star and famous lob-wearer: Dorit Kemsley of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, tells ELLE.com they took her hair short during the second season because “Dorit is committed to a look and is always willing to take a risk for the sake of ‘fashun.'” She adds that they’re always inspired by her wardrobe. “For the first couple years I worked with her, we almost never repeated a hairstyle.”
Kemsley’s experiments in lob land include tighter, just-out-of-the-ocean textured waves and updos, to stick-straight styles and even a playful moment with bejeweled snap clips from Marjan’s own Kitsch collection. Hello, Cool Mom.
So, what is it about the lob that makes it so reality TV-friendly? Well, it looks great on camera, particularly when it comes to emphasizing someone’s facial expressions (and what’s a reality show without the cuts to everyone’s reactions?)
“Depending on where the hair is cut, the blunt ends and any layers can really be personalized to frame the face and bring out your best features,” Marjan explains. “It’s a universally flattering cut because it can be so customized to suit your specific needs. The clean ends look healthy and full without getting distracting on camera or caught on clothes.”
Hair stylist Melissa Parizot, who gave Paige Desorbo of Summer House her signature lob cut, says the style works on her because “she has beautiful features and this haircut allows them to shine.” Parizot adds that hair is like a “built-in accessory,” a key tool that lets you show off your personality. “Shorter hair can make you stand out and pop. It’s gives a very impactful and memorable look,” Parizot says. “Girls are attached to the length of their hair because it’s often viewed as beautiful, but confidence is the most beautiful quality in a person and the confidence to wear a shorter cut gives a super lasting impression.”
That part. When you’re thrown into a cast of eight, nine, ten, or more, it only makes sense to want to be more memorable with however much screen time you get and your hair can help. On top of that, the style can last you through a season of filming without fuss, Parizot points out. “When you are cutting your hair short going above the shoulder can mean a very challenging grow with a series of awkward phases of grow out. The length of a lob allows you to do very familiar things, like tie it up and curl it, without the commitment of a much shorter bob that is typically challenging to style on your own,” she says.
For strong made-for-TV personalities, it’s a perfect fit. “I think you really have to be confident to wear short hair! It’s much more ‘fashion’ and chic,” Marjan says. Parizot adds that it communicates strength: “Going back to confidence, it’s a huge decision and commitment when cutting your hair. I believe it shows a sense of security in one’s self to be bold.” And what’s better than bold when the cameras are on?