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Dutchess_III's avatar

Why did we have to wear bathing caps?

Asked by Dutchess_III (43077points) March 15th, 2012

I’m watching a documentary on Walt Disney, and they showed a shot of his wife and daughters, when the girls were little. This would have been in the 40’s, and the girls and the mom were in the pool and had on bathing caps (they called them “bathing caps” but it’s what the women wore when they went swimming.) Well, that flashed me back to when I was young…oh, up until I was about 7. My Mom always wore a swim cap, and I had to wear one too.

I remember one I really liked to look at. It had floppy plastic, yellow flowers on it…but it, like ALL bathing caps, were just awful to put on and to wear. I’d have to hold my hair up and Mom would streeeetch it out and bring it down and “snap!” it around my head, and then we’d have to push any stray hairs up under the band of the cap and THAT hurt. It pinched my skin, it pulled my hair…why oh why did we have to wear them???

OK. 90% of you are going WTH is she talking about? But some of you know exactly what I’m talking about! It just never occurred to me before now to wonder why we wore them..? As a kid, I HATED them!

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18 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

Just a guess and I remember my mother doing the same.

How about the bleach in the water turning your hair wacky colors?

How about protecting your ears from the swimming pool water invading them?

How about some smart advertiser making a lot of money off of his idea?

chyna's avatar

I’m thinking it was to keep your hair from clogging the drains. I don’t know that though. I remember them also as a kid when I was taking swim lessons. They were awful.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@john65pennington that makes sense for my mom, but for me? As a little kid? Now that you mention it…it seems she did say something about water not getting in my ears. But, apparently that wasn’t a problem after I was about 7, though. Or maybe I threw a fit.

jca's avatar

Now we have hair styles that are easy to care for. We often wash our hair daily, we have blow dryers, hair is usually easy to style, not a big time taker. In the 40’s, 50’s 60’s and 70’s (I’m thinking the ladies that needed bathing caps in the 1970’s were mostly older at that point) hair styles were often done at the beauty salon (i.e. bouffant), hair was not washed daily like it is now, hair styles were a big deal, not like now. Hair dryers at home were often this big round case (my mo had one) with a hose attached to a cap (like a shower cap) and the dryer was turned on and the hose took the hot air to the shower cap thing, so the hair didn’t actually move (or “blow”), it just kind of was warm under that shower cap, maybe the lady would have rollers in her hair. Hair was a big deal to wash and style, so the bathing cap or swim cap was used to keep the hair style in decent condition.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca lol! Spot ON! I remember all of that! Yes, I remember Mom “getting her hair done” once a week, then trying not to let it move until her next appointment the following week. I remember being really sad once when we all went to the lake, Mom, Dad, my sisters and me, and my Mom refused to get in the water with us to play because of her hair. I was young, but I remember thinking “What is really more important??”

But…why did Mom make me, a little kid, wear a bathing cap?? I certainly wasn’t getting my hair done every week. Mom was lucky if I remembered to brush it!

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I am guessing you had to wear the cap so your hair wouldn’t get wet.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mom…why can’t my hair get wet???? I’m going swimming!

ucme's avatar

I think some aged celebrities wear these underneath a wig, makes for a cheap non surgical facelift.

augustlan's avatar

I remember those days, too. Hated those stupid things! I seem to remember it was required by the (public) pool, if your hair was of a certain length. That makes me think it was about clogging the drains. Maybe the filters are better now? I know I had to wear one sometimes when I had tubes in my ears. Before they invented those fancy ear plugs molded to fit your ears, I had to wear ill-fitting ear plugs with a bathing cap over top to keep my ears dry.

filmfann's avatar

The chlorine would turn your hair green.
Which makes me wonder about a generation of people walking around with green pubes.
It’s kind of amazing there was another generation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@filmfann…Myth! My hair got noticeably lighter in the summer (it would get streaked with lighter and darker colors…costs about $60 to have it done in the salon!) but it never turned green. No one walked around with green hair!

cazzie's avatar

It is the filtration systems in the pools. We still have to wear bathing caps in our indoor recreational pools. They are rather old, but well maintained. By making swimmers wear caps, it keeps the hair from dislodging and entering the pool, then entering the filtration systems. Some of the old ones are not so well designed and clumps of hair can block drains and the pumps would run dry and burn out. Very expensive.

filmfann's avatar

@Dutchess_III Not a myth. I grew up around swimming pools, and have seen many a blonde with green streaks in their hair.

jca's avatar

I have never seen blondes with green streaks in their hair.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dutchess_III I swam all the time when I was growing up in Las Vegas. My blonde hair would get a green tint to it when I swam several days in a row. It happened every summer. Happened to some of my friends too. Not a myth.

I remember being required to wear our hair in a ponytail when we went to the local public pool. I’m guessing it was to keep hair from getting in the drains. I haven’t noticed public pools requiring this now, though.

Dutchess_III's avatar

To all green streaked blonds…was your/their hair bleached artificially first?

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dutchess_III No. This happened to me when I was in grade school and beyond. I have very natural, blonde hair.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know what the means @jonsblond. What it REALLY means is that you peed in the pool, then swam through it! The urine interacted with the chlorine to turn your hair green!

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