As most know, A Cloud of Hawthorne takes place in ye olden days and things were different. One of the places my mind wandered to whilst writing one of my steamier chapters was body hair. It got me thinking about how body hair trends change through the ages and that of course lead to a History of Sex post.
Hair removal can be traced back as far as our cave-dwelling ancestors but it Ancient Egypt that first equated hairlessness with status and the upper classes spent a lot of time making sure the only hair on their body was on their head. They used bronze razors and a variety of depilatory creams and mixtures, and a sugar and honey based wax.
The Greeks and the Romans continued this ideal and preferred the clean-shaven look. Women plucked or waxed their pubic and underarm hair, some daily. It was considered ugly and barbaric to have pubic hair and upper-class girls started plucking as soon as the hair appeared. The men, of course, were under less pressure to get rid of pubic hair. While the lady statues are smooth as silk, the gentlemen statues are sometimes shown with manly pubes.
Islamic culture also has a love affair with hair removal. It was said to be cleaner and less sinful to have a hairless down-there area. Bath houses had rooms for women to shave, pluck, or wax their pubic hair and it was a tradition for a bride to have all hair except eyebrows and the head on the hair removed by her family and friends the night before her wedding.
While body hair removal was always common in Europe, the Crusaders brought back tales of completely smooth vaginas and this became the trend until Catherine de Medici became queen of France and banned her ladies from this practice. Catherine, despite her own sexual voracity, was a bit of a prude and didn’t believe a lady should spend her time on such endeavors. Still, hair removal happened but it was now kept on the down low. This secrecy intensified after the biggest sexual Debbie Downer of all time, Queen Victoria, ruled supreme over public morals.
It wasn’t until cheap razors and daring fashion came around in the early 1920s that hair removal entered the public domain again. When the bikini became popular in the 1960s, women were encouraged to shave their “bikini lines” and Brazilian waxing became very popular a little later.
So while I’d imagine Rosetta went au natural, Proberta and Edith probably spend an inordinate amount of time plucking their pubes.