Some say, in order to understand ourselves today, we must first know and understand our history. At a recent completely bare meeting, we decided to come up with fun facts and statistics about hair removal (please choose your words carefully when Googling “vaginal hair removal”). I started to come across a ton of information about where Brazilian waxing originated- though strangely enough, not in Brazil. It seems these trends sort of appear out of no where, take us all by storm, and then we wonder how we ever survived before. I look back on the time when I groomed merely for the sake of appearances in a bathing suit, as such a naïve and pedestrian time in my life, excused only by the innocence of youth.
B.C.B (Before Completely Bare), the thought of removing everything below had never even crossed my mind. Suddenly, Carrie Bradshaw felt like “walking sex”, Gweneth Paltrow’s life was changed, and Plum Sykes was writing about letting men “go to Brazil”. What we now consider basic grooming did not begin with Cosmo’s and Manolo’s (though a glance at any Playboy from the 70s might beg to differ).
In ancient civilizations, the practice of removing body hair began mostly for hygienic reasons, mainly to prevent infestation from lice and fleas (I have already showered four times after reading this). The most common methods used were primitive razors made from flint blades, as well as home-made depilatories using ingredients like arsenic and quicklime. The Egyptian’s adopted it with a more vain approach, where a hair-free body became the standard of beauty. They came up with a mixture of honey and oil to pull the hair out – a practice now known as waxing.
In Ancient Greece, the female hairless body was the very picture of youth and beauty – a view reflected in their art. Many Greek statues of men clearly show pubic hair, whereas female sculptures are universally hair-free. They considered an overgrown bikini to be ugly, and a sign of wealth and class was to be completely bare. In ancient Islamic culture, they took it one step further by actually designating rooms in their bathhouses where women could go to have their pubic hair removed.
During the Crusades, a surge of Christianity, and the belief all things sex related to be sinful, pubic hair was sent into the Dark Ages. Leave it to fashion, however, to bring us back into the light. In the 1940s, when bathing suits became smaller, the need (and common curtsey) for below the belt hair removal was re-discovered. As swimsuits, and eventually bikinis, started showing more and more skin, hair removal became more and more mainstream. Let’s now take the time to thank the porn industry. As pornography became more acceptable in polite society, women began to emulate the grooming habits of its stars, bringing us to bikini grooming as we know it today.
To my great disappointment, the term “Brazilian ” waxing did not originate with the genetically blessed (seriously, is there something in the water?) women of Brazil. It is thought to have been given the name only because it sounded exotic.
Whatever the root, I could not be happier to be out of the dark ages of B.C.B., armed with the freedom to be confident and hair-free!