This 8-second tiktok of a controversial part of my body has been viewed over 18 million times

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The first time I got my eyebrows waxed was for fifth grade graduation. My mom said she was my age when she first got her eyebrows done, so it felt like a family rite of passage.

As I lay on the waxing table, anxiously anticipating what it would feel like to remove the center of my thick black unibrow, I thought to myself beauty is pain, a phrase I’ve heard constantly growing up. When I did my freshly waxed appearance at school, it was the first time I was praised for my looks. I had never received so much attention from my classmates – let alone hear them call me “beautiful”.

As a kid, I was chubby and curly-haired, and I always wanted to be the center of attention. I never considered myself beautiful. When I started receiving compliments for my looks, it reinvigorated the idea that our culture instills in girls’ minds: You have to be hairless to be attractive.

I continued to wax, pluck and thread my brows. Soon I found myself spending significant amounts of money on the latest body hair removal product that wouldn’t irritate my skin and could handle my thick hair. The hair on my legs and the back of my thighs, in particular, was a major insecurity, and making sure I wasn’t missing any spots was a tedious and time-consuming process. Eventually I realized that I would spend my time doing something other than worrying about my hair, which is a naturally occurring part of my body. I was sick of feeling embarrassed and overly aware of my thick black hair, and I began to question why I felt the need to remove it.

I realized I’ve lived my whole life as a target—and ultimately as a product of the marketing campaigns and beauty standards that corporations impose on women. Let’s face it: The so-called “beauty industry” benefits from our insecurities by setting impossible standards. Models and entertainers are put on pedestals as unimaginable examples for what we are told, we should strive to be.

The more insecure we are about our bodies – the hair on them, for example – the more we will spend trying to change them. In the case of hair, this means using a razor, tweezers, shaving cream, threading, waxing and laser hair removal. Hair removal is a billion-dollar industry, and a lot of time and money is spent making sure we’re removing our hair consistently and buying products and services to do so.

The author was on vacation with her family in 2007. “I was plucking my eyebrows and waxing regularly,” she notes.

Once I understood how this cycle worked—and how ridiculous it was to spend so much money and free time—I slowly started letting my body hair grow out. During this time I was working as a barista in a small coffee shop while pursuing my arts degree. If there’s ever a place to experiment with growing your body hair, it’s a coffee shop or painting studio. I was surrounded by other creatives, and I started making friends with people who weren’t so concerned with how they were perceived by others. I felt comfortable slinging coffee at home and with other badass girls who didn’t care about bras, makeup, or the fuss of shaving.

Not everyone in my life was as like-minded as my classmates and co-workers. As of 2016, I hadn’t shaved my armpits in a few years, and I started caring less about my leg and belly hair. At that time my boyfriend used to talk to me about how my legs were so hairy that they looked like a man. My decision to let my leg hair grow made him question what it meant to have a hairy girlfriend like him. Honestly, I can’t blame her, given the societal expectations of women in America and the taboos surrounding female body hair. It took him some time to come around to the idea, and while he didn’t fully accept my decision to be fuzzy, he eventually got used to it and left comments when I expressed how much they bothered me. Gave.

My family members were never judgmental about my choices, but they still joked about how I didn’t shave for being “lazy”. A family friend once whispered to my mom, “She’ll grow out of it eventually.” (No pun intended.) These comments never bothered me, but in the end, maybe they should have.

The first time I saw someone proudly raise their eyebrows was when I found out Model Sofia Hadjipantelli on Instagram, She was absolutely stunning, and appeared on the covers of magazines with her strong features, bleached blonde hair and an intense unibrow. I let my body hair grow at the time, but I was still getting my eyebrows fixed. However, after watching Hajipanteli, I couldn’t stop wondering what it would be like if I grew my unibrow.

I casually let my brows grow out, but often wore glasses or tried to hide it. Growing out the hair on my face seemed like a much bigger commitment than my leg or stomach hair—a statement, even. It was a part of my ongoing process of questioning my beliefs about beauty standards and gender norms. I was now actively asking myself why I made the choice I made with my body.

The author modeled for his ARQ collaboration in 2022.
The author modeled for his ARQ collaboration in 2022.

I’m not sure why it was so hard for me to find confidence in my unibrow. What started out as a sort of experiment for me turned into a real hobby for the hair I’d been removing for most of my life. To be honest, in my daily life, no one really made a big deal out of what I was doing with my hair. Sure, there were a few stares here and there, but nothing intense. Little did I know that my hair would soon be the reason for millions of people to know who I am.

I, like many others, downloaded TikTok in 2020 during the pandemic, out of boredom and hoping to feel more connected to others. I had a low social media presence at the time – about 1,500 Instagram followers – but I was happy with the nice little community I built of like-minded and supportive people. When I started posting on TikTok, I was only doing it for my own entertainment. The first video I filmed was a dance I spent all day remembering to take my mind off COVID and recently laid off from my job.

I never had any intention of boosting views, but I was enjoying making silly videos. As I kept posting, people started to notice that I didn’t draw my eyebrows. The more I posted, the more attention I got.

Some people praised me and thanked me for challenging beauty standards. Mothers commented on my videos telling me that their younger daughters saw themselves in me. Others told me how “disgusting” and “unclean” I am. It was a bit shocking to have so many people — most of them complete strangers — weigh in on my looks at first, but I got used to it and didn’t notice much. I was still a small potato in terms of TikTok views… until suddenly I was, when one of my videos reached 18 million views in a week.

Who knew an eight-second clip could create so much turbulence? But it most certainly did. In the video, I lip-sync to “Woman” by Doja Cat, showing off my body hair. I wanted to say that even with my all natural hair, I am still feminine. The video reached 1 million views within a few hours.

Initial reactions were encouraging and celebratory. But attention quickly turned. A flood of reaction videos began to pour in, featuring people who were incredibly unhappy with my appearance—to put it mildly. I was called “ugly,” “quirky” and “masculine.” I was called a “caveman” and a “chewbacca”.

When these comments started pouring in, I looked at my phone in disbelief. What was most shocking to me was the reaction of the men in particular, and how violent and abusive their choice of words was. Unfortunately, I had experienced this kind of poisoning from men on TikTok before, though never on this scale. Once, a man posted a reaction video in which he spit on the camera and started beating me with his shoe. It was a wake-up call about how upset some people were with my appearance, but I was determined not to let it stop me. And now, despite the unimaginable onslaught of comments I was receiving from my viral video, I was going nowhere.

Instead of panicking and wondering if I should stop posting videos, I saw this moment as an opportunity. I wouldn’t go viral and then disappear – I would stay relevant and use my voice. I had received messages that I was a role model for those who are considered different; I just can’t disappear. I knew I had to do what I was doing, even if it meant dealing with vicious trolls and the mental health issues that it could bring.

Often the lewd comments that come with going viral don’t bother me. But I worry about young girls — or anyone who identifies with being feminine — who might see those reactions, and the messages they might see internally when they see people shaming a woman. And watch the joke as she proudly embraces her femininity and questions traditional beauty standards.

We grow up being told to stand out, be unique and be our authentic selves. But we are also asked to obey these strict, binary roles – or else. Why is it that seemingly arbitrary beauty standards and gender expectations hold so much power over us? When you think of beauty and femininity, is it what society has told you to believe, or is it your own concept? What is at stake here? Who wins and who loses when someone decides to challenge the status quo? I think these are questions we should all be asking ourselves and each other.

author in 2022.

I have never been one to conform or allow myself to be inferior to others. I will continue to spread my message of self-love and body acceptance, even if it means dealing with a few trolls and bullies from time to time — or thousands of them. I am now convinced of who I am, and instead of seeking approval from others, I know that I am beautiful and divine woman, hair and all.

The beauty standards and stereotypes of our culture are not going to disappear overnight, but we have made some progress. Thankfully, we are starting to see more representation of different types of bodies in the media. But there’s still room for many, and it’s still an uphill battle and to be a woman we’ve been told women should look like. Whether you shave or wax or laser or pluck, I hope you feel empowered by your choice because you chose to do it without any pressure or shame.

If this viral experience has taught me anything, it’s that being your truest and most authentic self often intimidates people. It’s not always easy to believe in who you are, and it can sometimes lead to some uproar and backlash and snarky words. My hope is that every girl, boy, woman, man, trans person, non-binary person, and anyone with any other identity knows that they are amazing and unique in their own way, and who they really are. finds courage.

Ellie Bloom is a Content Creator, Influencer, Figure Drawing Life Model, Certified Yoga Instructor and Self-Love Advocate. An introvert yet always the loudest in the room, Ellie is a bit of an anomaly. You can get more information from TIC Toc And instagram to @avocado_allie.

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