The battle of the bush

Bathroom razor

Not that long ago I spent my Sunday morning investigating the history of pubic hair – shaved pubic hair to be exact. The reason for this scientific exploration of the various hair styling of a woman’s (or man’s for that) lady or blokey bits, is that I read  that Cameron Diaz had declared her position in the long-standing, epic battle of the bush.

She has included a chapter in her new health guide, The Body Book, called “In Praise of Pubes”, in which she enthusiastically outlines the benefits of female pubic hair. According to media reports, her argument goes like this.

“I hear that there’s a big fad these days of young women undergoing laser hair removal on all of their lady bits,” Diaz writes.

“Personally, I think permanent laser hair removal sounds like a crazy idea. Forever? I know you may think you’ll be wearing the same style of shoes forever and the same style of jeans forever, but you won’t. The idea that vaginas are preferable in a hairless state is a pretty recent phenomenon, and all fads change, people.”

Well, my “research” – alas for Cameron who is actually one of my favourite actresses and is also the same age as me and much better looking but still single – found that the preference for a hair-less V-Jay Jay has actually been around since the ancient Egyptians.

It seems those dudes and dudesses weren’t keen on body hair and used to remove it all apart from their eye-brows. A useful distinction that many women should keep in mind today if they’re feeling particularly ruthless with their tweezers.

In Roman times, hair removal was also often seen as an identifier of class. The wealthy women would remove their body hair with pumice stones, razors, tweezers and depilatory creams.  Then there was threading which is often still practised openly in markets these days but on one’s eyebrows and not any hairy issues down under

The first razor was invented in the 1700s by a Frenchman (naturally) but it had a habit of taking off more than just skin so it wasn’t until the 1880s when a dude called King Camp Gillette created a much safer razor that the device became universally popular.  That said, I also read recently that sales of razors are decreasing rapidly because of the current hipster trend for blokes to look like lumber-jacks even if they live nearer the beach than any mountainous bushes.

As history shows, women have long found ways of removing body hair, but in 1915 the first female-specific razor was launched, which also coincided with a Harpers Bazaar issue featuring a model with hairless under-arms – and we’re all still replicating that ideal some 99 years later.

Ask any woman, and it’s highly likely that she’s tried the vast majority of hair removal techniques available. Some are more successful than others. Some are more painful than others – just check the waxing scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin because that was actually real. And today some are more permanent than others.

Although pooh-poohed by Cameron, the latest incarnation is permanent laser hair removal and to me her argument has rather large hairy holes in it. Anyone aged under 45, has grown up in a society where, rightly or wrongly, hair has been the enemy and I don’t think we’re going to be changing decades-old hirsute habits anytime soon.

From the hairier-the-better days of the 70s,by  the time we got to the 90s, the vast majority of us were trimming, plucking or waxing our nether regions to fit into societal norms or to squeeze into those ridiculously hipster jeans that were all the rage at the time.

And since the 60s, bikinis have become smaller and smaller to the extent that these days they actually resemble postage stamps – which is perhaps a new contemporary usage for stamps since no one actually posts letters anymore. Likewise, with undies, which in the 21st Century are the polar opposite of bloomers. I painfully remember wearing g-strings religiously throughout the 90s because I was in my 20s, my arse was pert, and therefore I could. But I think by the time I got to my 30s, I realised they were the most uncomfortable underwear ever invented and stopped wearing them forever.

The year before last I started laser hair removal – and talked my part-time housemate into it too. To say we are devotees is an understatement.  Without going into too much detail, I am now in the enviable position that I never have to buy another razor again.  And these days my friend regularly exclaims rather loudly at the extraordinary wonder of it all given she was once a “hairy bloody Italian” and is now no longer.

The need to shave any part of your body at the last minute because you are going to the gym, wearing a sleeveless dress, or ducking to the beach is gone. And I can wander around in my undies in changing rooms – which admittedly is not an overly common occurrence but I’m trying to make a point – and not have to worry (a-al Miranda in Sex and the City) about any caterpillars peeking out.

So I guess in the historical, clearly hypothetical, battle of the bush, I would be on the opposing side of the fight to Cameron.  But that’s the way it should be. In my opinion, when it comes to pubes, you can have them long or short, curly or gone completely if that’s what you’re into, because it really is about whatever tickles your fancy.

This blog was deleted six months ago due to, um, me being a knob and imagining all manner of potential issues with it being out in the blogosphere. I’ve calmed down now and decided not to self-censor any longer. 

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