Tag Archives: hairstyles

Genital Fads

Because it’s looking like spring (at least here in the Pacific Northwest) and little shoots are poking through the ground, and the big VD just happened (that’s Valentine’s Day not venereal disease though they do have a relation), I remembered a conversation with a friend last fall.

We were at the World Fantasy Convention, in the art show. There were some dark, moody-broody pictures involving nudes. After my friend looked at one, she said to me, “I noticed that the woman in that photo had her genital area shaved. Am I way behind the boat here? Is this something that people are doing now?”

And I enlightened her that it is in fact a fad these days for men and women to be hairless. Women already have shaved underarms and legs for years. Now they may have their pubic patch trimmed or taken away completely, commonly called a Brazilian. Men have also been getting waxed of recent years, from back and butts, to chests and genitals. Some of them shave the genital area or go in to see an aesthetician to have as one friend referred to it, a crack and sack hair removal.

It’s been common in the Middle East for hundreds of years, yet in Italy of the last century a woman with hairless legs were considered to be tarty or ladies of the night. But this modern age is not the first time that people have applied fashion trends to their genitals.

If we go back in time there were ribbons applied to pubic curls in the 17th century. Known as a merkin, men or women would adorn these pubic wigs to either disguise the syphilitic ravages to their flesh, to discourage vermin (having shaved the region) or because people found a dense bush more sexually appealing. Some extravagances involved crimping the pubic hairs, adding ribbons, jewels or flowers. Quite a treasure trove for the exploring Don Juan.

Adornment hasn’t just happened to the pubic hair but to the flesh as well. There have been an abundance of piercings for men and women, some being ornamental, others religious, others for sexual enhancement. These have been done for centuries in some Asian and African countries and are popular in some aspects of North American and European culture.

Clothing has also been worn at different times to enhance the genital area (besides the merkin). These have included extravagant codpieces from the German Landsknecht “slash and puff” clothing, through the Elizabethan and Tudor periods. As well, various tribes may have worn penis sheaths made from wood or gourds, such as the New Guinea koteka. Tattooing is also not new.

The fashion of making ourselves as hairless a possible will probably change in decades to come. Nothing is new and nothing is permanent. Whether we see these pubic fashions as awe inspiring, fashionable, sexy or ridiculous they too will change in time. Someone will come up with something new, maybe wearing airplane parts or hanging Christmas ornaments from their pubic regions. Who knows, you might be the first to have the newest undercover fad.

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Hair-Raising History

Once we were much hairier. Well, our evolutionary ancestors were anyway. And depending on what ethnic stew you come from you may find yourself of a hairier variety. But hairstyles have been coming and going for thousands of years. I’m sure Grog the caveman (he’s popular, this Grog) and Progla the cavewoman didn’t much care what their hair did and they hadn’t invented scissors yet. The best they could do was chip a piece of stone and saw away at the rat’s nest.

Hairstyles progressed in different ways in various geographies. The Egyptians were big on shaving their heads in the heat and making elaborate wigs, for the nobles at least. Hieroglyphics show that they’d put a cone of perfumed fat on their noggins and let it slowly melt over their bodies. I can only think that that would have made me itchy in the heat.

Babylonian men were curling and coiling their naturally wavy locks and beards into elaborate patterns, as were other cultures. Along the way, some places developed moral codes that affected how people could wear their hair. Men were to have beards but not before marriage, heads were to be covered or not. Unmarried women could wear their hair loose (and were usually young girls) but once married they were braided or coiffed and often under veils and headdresses. Turbans, veils, hats, caps and other headwear were used to hide hair. Many of these moral codes had to do with the religious bodies of the day and perceived wantonness/evil/bucking authority depending on the flavor.

Within those countries there was often an accepted style to hair that you could be sure the upper classes wore. We have fewer images less of the poor and lower classes but they would, by fact of having less money, have worn their hair plainer but affecting the stylish modes as much as they could. There weren’t as many varieties of hairstyles and new ones would have come from neighboring countries. Egyptian slaves had shaved heads and no wigs. During the baroque and rococo periods women’s hair attained new heights with hats and shapes, such as a full galleon cresting the waves of curled and pinned tresses. The merchant and working classes would have had simpler styles, less lofty and easier for a person to arrange on themselves, rather than needing a team of hairdressers.

When I was researching medieval and renaissance Sottish and Irish dress I came across a style worn by young warriors. The head shaved close over the back and sides but hair left long to hang forward only over the brow. While this may have been partly expedient for wearing under fighting helms and coifs and part vanity, it also shows the punk hairstyles of the 80s were not so new.

Variations on the theme continue with some new twists being added. The punk movement brought along a literal rainbow of colors. I wouldn’t doubt if some dyes had been tried in centuries past, maybe something mixed with mud and applied. Not everything is recorded. We cut our hair short, we leave it long, we perm it into curls, we madly straighten it, we shave our heads, a few of us still do comb-overs (Donald Trump…ick). We make it uneven, we cut patterns into it, we braid, twist and otherwise add adornments like scarves, hats, pins, clips, etc. Some people have had implants put under their skin so that the skull takes on a bumpy pattern or to snap prosthetic hair pieces or horns even, onto their heads.

I’ve worn my hair short and mostly long, straight and curly and turquoise, blue, purple, magenta and red, in streaks, mind you, plus the regular blondes and brunettes. When doing shows, hairdressers treat hair as a medium on which to create their transitory art. Humanity tends to treat the body, from hair to nails, as a canvas. We play with it, we decorate it, sometimes we permanently change it. Hair is a renewable medium, for most of us. It allows us to experiment and try something new and either cut it off or grow it out if it doesn’t work. There have even been a few memorable movies/plays about it: Shampoo, Hairspray and give me down to there, Hair.

What will be the next follicle fad? What will be repeated? Who knows but I’m waiting for the day that they can actually create true metallic colors: copper, silver, gold, gunmetal. Maybe by the time I’m gray I’ll be able to go for robot silver instead.

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