Pubes have been an ever constant presence in the history of beauty trends.--- The wiry coarse hairs that have forever protected the vulvas of women from across the globe have constantly evolved in grooming and style and the social attitudes of what's acceptable to do the bush between our legs has changed throughout the ages. Some periods looked to see how long their fluff would grow, others stripped the area bare: bald as a cue ball, hairless like those cats but only scary looking after the initial tug off. As it happens, cleaning up the old box wasn't always for vanity's sake hair removal practices occurred for hygienic, sexual, medical and religious reasons.
Birds Do It We Do It - The Cavemen Too.
Cavemen (or more properly termed neanderthals) didn't have Gillete or wax salons back in the day, but even they were desperate enough to rid themselves of the hair down there that they went through pretty disagreeable lengths to take it off. And the evidence is on the walls. Early cave paintings show them plucking hair in the name of a hair-free vags with sharpened flint and shells which they used to actually scrape off hair. It might seem like an early start to vanity for our ancestors who seemingly had greater issues to worry about, but their grooming practices actually stemmed from life and death experiences. Wet pubes were a liability for early modern humans because of it's ability to retain water and cause frostbite. Early cave paintingsdepict them using seashells to pluck out hairs. Around this time women also learned to use the first depilatory creams created from quicklime, arsenic and starch.
Pubes Like An Egyptian
Still in B.C., ancient Egyptians also wanted a quick fix to their pube woes. Their issue was more about hygiene that safety though. Ancient Greek historian Herodotus (485-425BC) noted the Egyptians habit of bathing several times a day, that "they set cleanliness above seemliness..." which was also done by shaving their bodies and going completely stark. Makes sense if you consider how hot Egypt is and how likely long hair is to collect pests and disease. Going chrome-domed was a more hygienic and safer bet against bacteria and germ plagues. They used a depilatory method known as sugaring (which is still used in wax salons around the globe) and lathered it on like butter on bread before getting yanked off with a strip of cloth.
When In Rome, Pube As The Romans Do
The practice of hair removal spread all the way over Greece and Rome by the fourth century BC. The trend caught on thanks to Alexander the Great who required his soldiers shave their heads in an attempt to combat a problem of hair pulling during battles. Depictions of people during the era reveal women with zip underarm hair and zero pubic hair. Roman spas had servants who specifically removed hair with volsellae or tweezers made of metal, silver or even gold.
Ye Olde Medieval Pubes and The Renaissance Bucket
The Middle Ages were for good gardening and thick carpets. While Queen Catherine de Medici, of France (1547 - 1589) got picky with her ladies in waiting about pube practices (which stemmed from religious beliefs) and demanded that they keep theirs full, Queen Elizabeth's shaved back her hairline and eyebrows sparking a trend across England that was topped off with a full bush. A close look at some painting from the the Renaissance, however, proves plenty of woman were modeling the sphinx back in the day.
The Merkin, or pubic wig, was a piece originally worn by sex workers back in the 1400s who wanted to look sexy but prevent the all too uncomfortable pubic lice and hide symptoms of STDS. The wigs didn't quite make a hit until the Victorian era where birds nests on the mons was more fashionable. Something a bit cooky about this decade? It was not uncommon for members of the upper class to collect and wear pubic hair which was often given to a lover as a token of affection. A collection of short and curlies from King George IV's collection can be viewed on display at the museum of St. Andrews University in Scotland. The tresses are believed to have belonged to a possible mistress of his: Elizabeth Conyngham.