Fashion changes from time to time and from culture to culture. And the standard of beauty is different in different cultures. However, it’s almost universal for long hair to be associated with beauty across cultures, religions, and ethnic groups.
Beauty and long hair are not just modern fads; they go back a long way in history. But why do people prefer women to have long hair and men short? And why do humans even have longer hair on their heads than anywhere else?
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Receive selected content straight into your inbox.
How people have viewed long hair in history
History shows that people still maintained longer hair in ancient Greek and Roman times. However, even then, men had to have shorter hair than women. Ancient Greeks revered the “bearded and long-haired” mane of male philosophers and leaders, but generally, men were supposed to have theirs shorter.
Roman women, for example, kept their hair long and parted it at the center. However, men usually had their hair shorter. This is because it was considered “woman-like” for a man to devote too much attention to his hair. Also, Roman and Greek gods had full-flowing hair (picture Apollo, Venus, and Zeus).
There is also a connection between long hair and religion or spirituality. For instance, most Christian denominations have long held that women should have long hair. In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul says: “But if a woman has long hair, it is her glory. For her hair is given to her for a covering.”
Other religions and people like Rastafarians, Sikhism, and Native Americans also value long hair. They may keep their hair long for self-identity, closeness to nature, or beauty.
The 1960s introduced The Beatles, who started a more widespread longer hair trend. This led to a renaissance of long hair, especially in men.
Why do people love long hair?
As mentioned, the association between beauty and long hair is almost universal, even among people with shorter hair. For example, people around the tropics have shorter and curly hair, but most still love long hair.
Also, hairdressing seems to be ancient among tribes in sub-Saharan Africa even before the arrival of Europeans. Artifacts found show that braiding and straightening of people’s hair was an ancient practice among the people there.
There are several theories as to why people love longer hair, especially women. First, women with longer hair are viewed as more feminine. This theory posits that longer hair has an evolutionary benefit in terms of mate selection, and over time those with longer hair passed down their genes.
Men also view women with long hair as more fertile and healthier. Long hair may be more attractive to men because it may signify a woman is fertile and can pass on better genes.
Long hair has also symbolized a higher status in many cultures. For example, in aristocratic societies, men and women are usually seen with longer hair than the common folk. Conversely, enslaved people and prisoners were always shaved to show their low status.
Kurt Stenn, the author of Hair: A Human History, says that almost everyone judges others by their hair. Hair can send “messages of health, sexuality, religiosity, power” at first glance. Another scholar Deborah Pergament reiterates these sentiments. She says that people can infer a lot about when they wear a particular hairstyle.
People can surmise a person’s religion, morality, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and more from their hair.
Usually, you have to be healthy, rest well, and exercise enough to have good hair. This may be another reason for this universal attraction because it shows the person with better hair is healthier and has the time to take care of their hair — that is, they may have a higher status.
Do women love men with long hair?
Most men may prefer women with longer hair, but women notice hair changes more quickly than men. They are better at identifying changes in hairstyles and other changes than men. Studies have shown that women can see as little as one-millimeter changes in forehead length in other people.
This suggests that women are better at noticing hair length changes than men. First, it may be because women can detect more signs of femininity and how that femininity makes others attractive. And second, it may be because of the evolutionary reasons for mate competition.
Also, women are attracted to men with longer hair. Older men with longer hair look younger and are perceived as healthier by most women.
So why should we look at the history of long hair and attractiveness? Its connection to beauty is deeply ingrained, and it’s essential to understand how and why this has come to be.
So when people understand their love of long hair, it’s easier to accept it as a standard of beauty. And more importantly, we can also embrace other emerging beauty standards, such as shorter hair among people with naturally short and curly hair.