The Curious Case of the Term “Headbow”
Have you ever noticed that listings on Lolibrary are fairly consistent in what they call things? Head Bows are Head Bows. JSKs are JSKs. OPs are OPs. But some of that comes from a sort of internal style book, and the work of dedicated lolibrarians. (shout out to asternoon who retroactively normalized a lot of stuff!)
The brands themselves however, are less consistent. Headbow is one of those things that has major consistency issues in English. Specifically “Head Bow” vs “Headbow” vs “Alice Band” vs “Alice bow”.
In Japanese? It’s pretty standard: カチューシャ. But “Kachūsha” (KC for short) isn’t an English loan word, or even remotely close to it (it comes from the Russian name ‘Катю́ша’), and the most direct translation of it is “Headband”.
So then how did we get from a headband named after a Russian opera character to “Headbow”? Let’s look at a timeline:
Metamorphose English Site stylizes Head Dress as two words
Angelic Pretty English site uses “Ribbon Alice Band” for headbows.
Angelic Pretty English Site stylizes “Head Dress” as two words.
First English GLB is published
Sweet Rococo Opens, using the term “Bow Headband“
Bodyline starts offering an English Language version of their overseas site (they use the term katyusha)
Angelic Pretty USA switches to “Headbow“
Lolibrary normalizes a mix of items stylized as “Head Bow” and “Headbow” to “Head Bow”
Lace Market Opens using the category “Headbands and bows”
Based on this, one would assume that Head Bow started getting used in 2010, right?
Surprisingly, based on a search of threads on EGL that mention different headwear by year, it looks like Headbow came into use in 2006 while Head Bow as two words first shows up in 2005. It doesn’t surpass Alice Bow in usage until 2007.
In other words, it looks like the western community may have just… invented their own name for カチューシャ, and, based on what I can find? It looks like it could have come out of the joke/meme of Head-Eating Bows.
I can’t find any real influential source from that time period that explains it, in fact, it looks like every influential source specifically doesn’t use the term headbow. If you know of one, please comment, I’d be really interested in learning more.
I thought about repeating the same data collection on egl-comm-sales, but just a tiny bit of spot checking seems to show a similar preference for Headbow over Alice Bow as we see on EGL for 2007, and, since that was the year it was founded, we can’t really go back and get earlier data.
And headbow definitely seems to still be the champ. If we hop over to Lace Market, and do a search on current and past listings, we can see a definite preference for Headbow, though interestingly, KC seems to have a surprising level of popularity.
|Lace Market Usage (2014-2020)|
Bonus Graph: Total EGL Posts By Year
I had to calculate this to make one of the other graphs, and I figured it would be interesting to some people. Part of why the peak is back farther than I think most people would expect is that earlier EGL seems to have been significantly less formal (think old school chit-chat forum) where as aging EGL got to be significantly more formal, and people tended to put a bit more thought into posting. Sub-groups like Comm-Sales and Daily Lolita also removed some posts from the main group.
What are your theories? Where did Headbow come from? And what is your preference for headbow and headdress? With or without a space?