CULTURE Facts History

9 Historical Moments That Changed Our Pubic Hair Forever

Humans have been obsessed with their secret gardens for a lot longer than you might think.


Ancient Egypt — Someone spilled honey on themselves and discovers “sugaring.”

Neurotic about staying cool (and clean), Egyptians were meticulous about hair removal. A sticky paste (beeswax was sometimes used) would be applied to the skin, kind of like waxing. Then a strip of cloth was pressed onto the paste and yanked off, removing the hair. Experts say the soft, sugar-based paste only sticks to the hair, not the skin, making it a slightly less terrifying experience.

Ancient Rome — Someone got a little tweezer happy.


“The process of female pubic hair removal was also popular in ancient Rome, but their techniques were slightly different. Like the Greeks, they did employ plucking, with special tweezers called vosella,” Desmond Morris writes in his book, The Naked Woman: A Study of the Female Body. “A form of waxing was also practiced, using pitch or resin. Among fashionable Romans, young girls would start to employ one of these methods as soon as pubic hair began to grow.”

1450s — Someone invented the crotch wig.

The Oxford Companion to the Body dates the origin of the pubic wig, also known as a “merkin,” to the 1450s. According to the publication, women would shave their pubic hair for personal hygiene and to combat pubic lice. They would then don a merkin, lest their bareness offend anyone. Also, prostitutes would wear a merkin to cover up signs of disease, such as syphilis. Fun fact: Merkins are still alive and well today as sex toys and porn props.

1547 — Catherine de Medici became the Queen of France.

From 1547 to 1589 this religious (and apparently, anti-shaving) zealot allegedly forbade her ladies in waiting to remove their pubic hair. Even though her servants rocked the mandatory full bush, it is said other women of her time still removed it in private.

1915 — Someone invented the safety razor.

In the early 1900s, Gillette marketed the first razor for women with the message that body hair was “unsightly” and “objectionable” and needed to be removed. Body hair removal was characterized as being “feminine” and “sanitary.” It was mostly used on armpits and legs (thanks to a nylon shortage during WWII) but then…

1946 — Someone cut a bathing suit in half.

In 1946, the world was graced with its first bikini bathing suit, but that quickly raised the issue of what to do with those short and curlies peeking out around the crotch line. This was when the safety razor suddenly became useful for an entirely new reason.

1967, Summer of Love (and a little bit after) — Women threw away the razor.

The hippies’ message of love, tolerance and au naturale-ness included everything — even pubic hair. With the sexual liberation came liberation from manicured crotches, and those who were in tune rocked the full bush, loud and proud.

1996The Vagina Monologues said what everyone was thinking.

There’s a section in the play The Vagina Monologues about how going full-hairless was creepy and degrading — which was a pretty common thought at the time. For most of the ’80s and ’90s, trimming — but not removing — pubic hair was the trend du jour.

2000 — Carrie Bradshaw got a Brazilian.

In 1987, Jocely, Jonice, Janea, Joyce, Jussara, Juracy, and Judseia Padilha opened the appropriately named J. Sisters salon in Midtown Manhattan, where they began offering what they had dubbed the “Brazilian wax.” But it wasn’t until that fateful day, 13 years later, when Carrie went full-frontal, that the style transformed from a random celebrity trend into a full-fledged national obsession.

So where does “the hair down there” stand here in 2015? Well, trendsters say we’ve recovered from our “clean slate” obsession, with more women opting for well-manicured but more natural looks. They also say that men have gotten into the pubic landscaping trend, opting to shave or trim their own gardens. Only time will tell what fresh new crotchular torture we’ll invent for ourselves in the future!

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