There’s absolutely nothing wrong with women who don’t shave their body hair and nobody should be made to feel guilty if they choose to opt out of modern beauty standards. That’s the message that TikTok user Solanathegreenfairy is trying to hammer home. She wants people to know that beauty standards are a social construct. Check out her full video below, dear Pandas, and be sure to let us know what you think.
Though Solana is right that women shaving their body hair became popularized in the early 20th century by Gillette (who focused on a trend that had been happening in the West since the late 1800s), there’s far more context that we need to be aware of.
Throughout human history, we as a species have been flirting with the idea of shaving vs. not shaving body hair, and it’s utterly fascinating how these trends have come and gone and shifted over the centuries in different cultures. And it’s not just about subjective beauty standards, either—there were practical considerations to shaving (for both women and men), too.
Solana shared why women are expected to shave their body hair in modern society
You can watch Solana’s full video right over here
@solanathagreenfairybeauty standards are a social construct!@heyestrid ##foryou ##bodyhairpositivity ##feminist ##beautystandard♬ original sound – solana
If we take a look at history, we’ll see that people’s views toward body hair fluctuated over time and in different regions of the world. And while we can claim that it’s all subjective, some of the reasons to shave had deep cultural significance and were actually useful in your day-to-day life.
For instance, back in the Stone Age, shaving one’s hair was a survival tactic, according to CR Fashion Book. This was very useful during battle because it meant that your opponent didn’t have any hair to grab onto. What’s more, shaving meant that you could avoid frostbite in harsh weather, as water wouldn’t become trapped in your hair and wouldn’t freeze against your skin. Sharp stones, animal teeth, and clamshells were used for body hair removal.
Meanwhile, fast-forwarding to Ancient Egypt, hair was removed using sugaring which became the foundation for the waxing techniques we use today. In Ancient Egypt, body hair was seen as uncivilized, dirty, and unhygienic. It also set apart the upper and lower classes. For instance, men would shave their beards to better distinguish themselves from the servants and slaves who would grow them or have stubble.
Similarly, body hair (or rather the lack thereof) was used to indicate whether somebody was from the upper classes in Ancient Greece and in the times of the Roman Empire. Or, as CNN’s Marianna Cerini put it, “the smoother your skin was, the purer and more superior you were.”