Fort Worth welcomes bows — the bigger, the better.
Eleven-year-old Molly O’Neil wears her new mega bows to school at Tanglewood Elementary. She said she first noticed the trend at school.
“Many people at my school were wearing all these mega bows and I thought I would look good in them,” Molly said.
In the past five months, the fifth grader has acquired four of her own mega bows. She orders online from Rainbows by Paulette, which classifies mega bows as 6 inches high and 7 and one-half inches across. Her mother, Julie O’Neil, heard about the site by word of mouth.
“All of my friends have at least three mega bows,” Molly said. “I know people are still buying them.”
“Rainbows by Paulette” sells more than 20 types of bows in 41 different colors in its store in Baton Rouge, La. Owner Paulette Koveal runs the business from a single store, but recently began shipping more orders across state lines.
“We’ve sent a lot out to Fort Worth recently,” said Koveal. “The first city to start ordering bows from us was Houston, then Beaumont and now Fort Worth.”
Koveal expects the Texas takeover to continue: She just sent two orders to San Antonio and two to Austin.
“Most orders in the shortest amount of time was definitely Fort Worth,” Koveal. “I think it’s caught on faster in Fort Worth than Houston because some of the girls in Houston were not willing to share where they got the bows to their friends.”
Koveal said she has been selling the mega bows in Louisiana for 15 years and does not consider the mega bows a “trend” in her area.
So how did mega bows become so popular in Texas?
“Someone from Baton Rouge went to a summer camp in Arkansas and met a girl from Houston,” Koveal said. “In 2010, we started seeing a lot of Texas orders.”
… to Arkansas…
At Camp Ozark, a Christian sports and adventure camp in Mount Ida, Ark., Louisiana girls brought the bows to the attention of campers.
“The Louisiana girls came in for the second session at the end of May,” said TCU junior Nicole Nandrasy, the camp’s photographer last summer. “After that, there were three more sessions and the bows popped up everywhere.”
Nandrasy said the camp housed children ages seven to 17, but mostly the teenagers had the bows.
“We have dress-up nights, and one was wear-your-best-Halloween-costume,” Nandrasy said. “One cabin took all their bows and put them all over themselves; they were completely covered in the bows.”
Once the Louisiana girls came, Nandrasy said, they gave bows to the girls’ staff members.
“When the staff started wearing them, then all the girl campers wanted them,” Nandrasy said. “They started making them out of ribbon and duct tape from the craft barn.”
Inevitably, the campers left and brought the bows home with them…
… to Texas.
Stella’s, a small shop at 3460 Bluebonnet Circle, now sells mega bows, too. Miranda McCurley, a Stella’s employee, said the mega bow demand is fairly recent.
“We started selling them just this month and we’re planning to get more in this week,” McCurley said. “They’ve been popular lately and we’ve been getting requests from all age groups.”
McCurley said she sells the most mega bows to elementary and middle school girls.
Fifth grade teacher Abbie Cornelius sees the bows in her classroom and remembers them from her childhood.
“I first noticed them in the mid 80s, but the bows back then were not quite as big as they are now,” Cornelius said. “I started noticing them in the classroom after Christmas.”
Cornelius said she thinks the bows help students express their style.
“Students in Fort Worth ISD are required to wear uniforms, which doesn’t allow for much flexibility,” Cornelius said. “I think the bow, as an accessory, allows them to be a little different and serves as a way to get around the dress code.”
For some, mega bows draw attention to feminine expression.
“Girls looks cute in bows,” Cornelius said. “It may be a way for them to express how lady-like and true they are to their gender. There are a few girls in my class who I would never see wearing a bow like this.”
Cornelius and Dr. O’Neil both said they think the bows’ bright colors help the trend’s popularity.
Elementary school student Molly O’Neil will keep wearing her mega bows and that’s fine with her mother.
“From the parent perspective, I originally thought it was kind of crazy to wear a bow that big,” Julie O’Neil said. “But as my daughter has gotten older, she’s going to be outgrowing these things. She’s about to go to middle school, and I’ve been happy that she’s hanging onto her youth a little bit. If it lets them be a kid for a little longer, that works.”