- Fashion and Beauty
A History Of Mankind and The Development Of Hair Removal
Hair In Evolution
In The Beginning - A Hairy Experience
When humans first climbed down from the trees, began grunting and making noises that meant something, they started to communicate. To exchange information and develop thoughts. In the beginning these exchanges were bound to be simple and scarce. A simple bonding exercise was the removal of lice and insects from each other and so plucking was born.
Plucking hair is probably the first form of hair removal, both in the dawn of time and in the dawn of puberty.
Amongst the first applications of these thoughts was the capacity to develop and build simple tools. Probably by trial and error and over many generations. In time a tool became a necessity and it's use became widespread.
However it is safe to say that an artifact designed for the removal of hair was not high in early man's agenda.
Grooming had a limited space in the hierarchy of needs, and as such was probably a personalized lice removal type of activity, and therefore with socializing connotations. If we observe primates today we can see the social interaction involved in this bug removal process. We can also see at the moment of truth, when the bug is caught and before it is eaten, the "pull" movement is used - a bug is removed along with some hair. It has been plucked. We can easily envisage this behavior in early man, up to and including the diet sequence. Hence the "plucking" method of hair removal evolved.
The Dawn of Puberty
In the dawn of puberty something similar can happen. I trust not to the extent of early man's eating habits, but one never knows. The grunts and noises being a necessary process of acquiring communication skills and the exchange of information between peers. I emphasize peers, as I know many parents (recognized as elders in primitive societies) would question the phrase "communication skills".
However if you observe a gathering of a group of modern adolescents, with all the tribal ritual expressed through dancing, strutting and apparel, you could hardly tell the difference and they do apparently communicate.
It has been said that we are a reflection of our past, our origins. This statement appears to hold true. Early human and his society, early puberty and its society. For both these cases as communication skills develop, they expand. This expansion includes non verbal communication not only expressed through interesting hand signals but also by our appearance. Clothing, piercing, self painting and a variety of hair adjustments and removals.
The first hair on what the male fervently hopes will be a future beard or eyebrows on a young female, are the victims of this ancient method. Voilà - plucking.
The Classical Age
Archaeologists and museums teach us about societies and how peopled lived before our time. They identify the age in history through carbon dating; they find different levels in a dig; they rebuild pieces of pottery and bones to recreate the past. If we are lucky these are shown in museums and not kept away from prying eyes in private collections or dusty old storerooms.
Myths and legends passed on through the ages also present a portrait. Greek gods and goddesses were large than life but very human, with tantrums and jealousies, and with extraordinarily hairless bodies. How did they do it? Plucking and shaving. With bees wax and honey; with sharp knives - at least the men. Women on the other hand did it more privately.
So we learned about the ancient Greeks. How they fought, where they lived, what they thought and how they played - and sports. There are many statues of these athletes and one thing they had in common is lack of body hair. This was not a natural state of affairs but part of their grooming habits. And no, they were not naked all the time - just in public .. competitions.
A healthy mind in a healthy body was the message and they were not ashamed. This clarity of mind was reflected in this classical society. The individual was born - as long as he or she wasn't a slave or foreigner. Compared to the Persians and others period, and unfortunately up to our days, where individuals do not count unless they are the leaders.
The individual, not necessarily the hairless bodies, is what allowed for the development of the West a few centuries later on.
Not so Middle Aged, but Hairy
The Middle Ages
As societies matured, as puberty is overcome (the verb implying a struggle), a new, more mature culture and individual arises. Some societies due to many variables, evolve at a different rate. In modern man this can also be observed - to boot a 20 year old woman and a 20 year old kid.
Together with this evolutionary process, progress is said to walk hand in hand. Society went beyond plucking, to cutting, to plucking larger tufts of hair (waxing and related methods) to space age technology - laser beams and electrolysis.
The human adult, similarly has progressed from plucking and yes coloring, through a series of natural experiments in what we can now call the ancient art of hair removal. (OK, I know that there are exceptions and some experiments are not so natural, just allow me to give the majority the benefit of the doubt).
But today, for a brief window of time, we have a change in the evolutionary rhythm. As society matures and evolves, so humans through natural aging have sometimes grown, although usually they have just grown old.
In one aspect, reflecting the eternal search for perfection, "some" humans have overtaken the natural evolutionary cycle. While society struggles to evolve, usually imitating the walk of the crab - going sideways, with a one step jiggle forward and a two step backward dance - some, the few, the bold, the elite have gone beyond the pack, beyond the herd mentality.
These innovators, these charismatic people have found within themselves the need to express themselves without accepting the restrictions imposed by a biased society. A sign of genius this refusal to accept other imposed restrictions. (Genius that is confused with eccentricity at best, insanity at worst).
They apply the art of hair removal. They know the results, they communicate with the resulting voice of freedom; freedom to remove hair wherever and whenever they so chose. After the innovators come many of us, and we then have the development of trends, which in many cases become habits. Hair removal from different parts of our bodies are trends for some and habits for others.
And so another way of expressing our need for freedom.
Mankind will either be totally hairless or use the most extraordinary head and body hair pieces. History, luckily, has nothing to say about that.