So where did our wax on, wax off mentality come from?
While the choice to groom (or not to groom) your pubes is entirely a personal decision or choice, there is no denying that history and pop-culture have ingrained ideas about what is kept and unkept down there. Throughout history, the way we consumed art, media, and the world around us has shifted perspectives on pubic hair, giving pubic hair history as illustrious and varied era to era as the history of sex itself.
Ancient Egypt: Hairy Hieroglyphs
In Ancient Egypt, some women removed their public hair through copper razors, flintstones, and a process called “sugaring” in which you heat up water and sugar into a paste-like substance, which was used to remove hair with strips of cloth. However, it should be pointed out that not all Ancient Egyptians partook in removing their pubic hair, as many hieroglyphics and works of art depict women and men with dark triangles around their genitals.
Ancient Greece/Rome: Extreme Hair Removal
In Rome, upper-class women got rid of their public hair through a mixture of tweezers, pumice stones and depilatories, and copper razors. Additionally, the women of Ancient Greece would remove their bush through plucking out each individual hair or singeing it off with heat. In one of Aristophanes’ plays, a man who plans to go undercover as a woman to spy is held down and plucked entirely of pubic hair, an act that feminizes him. If you take a close look at Ancient Greece art & sculptures, you’ll be hard-pressed to find women sporting any hair down below, further indicating that it was a dignified act to be bald below the waist.
The Middle Ages: Disease Prevention
The Middle Ages were a time period where shaving off your muff was seen as an act reserved for those who were involved with prostitution, so if you were in high-standing, chances we’re even slimmer that you’d remove your hair. Additionally, pubic trends had more to do with health than vanity. Since the Dark Ages weren’t particularly, well, advanced in terms of medical practices, lice and disease ran rampant. As a result, for most of this time, it is believed that men and women alike kept their bushes intact, to help protect them from dust, dirt, and vermin.
Razor Ads of the modern age
As Western society grew and matured, our thoughts on pubic hair seemed to vary from decade to decade. During the Civil War Era, naughty photos taken at the time depict that pubic hair was trimmed but not entirely shorn off.
It wasn’t until 1915 when the first Gillette ad for a razor specifically marketed to women placed the idea that hair and status were so interwoven. The ad stated that the razor would help with “unsightly” and “objectionable hair” from their bodies, especially their underarms.
1970: All about the bush
The 70s were all about the bush, and going “natural” which coincided with the hippie movement at the time. The anti-Vietnam sentiment was causing people to buck normal societal conventions. Since the 50s and 60s were all about keeping the body covered, the 70s saw a huge shift for people to leave both their bushes and underarm hair alone—creating a massive shift in the way that people viewed autonomy over their bodies.
The 80s into the 90s, revolted from the extreme natural body-hair movement of the 70s. Many believe this has to do with the rise of the fashion industry, and the improved cameras putting more scrutiny on people’s bodies. Skin follicles that used to be hidden by low resolutions were now on full display. Porn permeating more facets of pop culture saw people feeling more pressure to be hairless or to experiment with more grooming techniques such as landing strips.
The 2000s & beyond
When it came to the early 2000s, a lot of how society felt about pubic hair had to do with the clothing styles. Crop tops and low waisted jeans saw women more likely to get Brazilian bikini waxes (aka remove everything below) since the in-trend styles caused them to show more skin. The magazine industry empathized women as being hairless, airbrushing them, and placing unrealistic beauty standards into the forefront of our societies’ consciousness.
As the 2000s moved forward, the “Hipster” movement saw the trend for longer hair and more natural grooming as cool, meaning that fewer people felt the need to wax or shave.
Now, it seems like there are no hard or fast rules for how you want to groom yourself. For some, it’s kinky to shave a partner, while other people find it more appealing to have their partner be completely natural. With the ability to reflect on the history of pubes, we as a society have the knowledge and the hindsight to make our own decisions about our bodies, and how historical events and expectations can shift the way we groom ourselves. Bush or no bush, love live the personal relationship we all have with the way we want to groom our southern regions.