Zen and the Art of Personal Grooming; The rise and fall of pubic hair.

The issue of maintaining the hair on one’s nether regions has apparently been around for as long as people have been able to write, paint and hold the necessary tools!

While we tend to think of waxing, shaving and now “manscaping” as a recent movement, both art and literature indicate otherwise.

Apparently the removal of pubic hair can be traced back (and thus evidenced) thousands of years, to the Middle East and India and was apparently actively encouraged within Islamic teachings. It was deemed as hygienic and cosmetic in addition to being consistent with ablutionary acts of worship!

Many of the statues of male gods and athletes sculpted during the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods (loosely 5th century BC 5th Century AD) were presented with “designer” or carefully coiffured pubic areas, although female nudity in art and sculpture was much less common with statues frequently being displayed as “draped” with their modesty discreetly covered.

This personal grooming trend continued into European Renaissance art, and inspired some women to remove their hair using homemade depilatory potions. “A 1532 book of beauty “secrets” included a recipe that prescribed arsenic and quicklime, to be used in a warm area and washed off quickly when the skin starts to feel hot etc (Burke 2012); although as Ms Burke points out, there was possibly a great disparity between the art of the day and the actual reality of how many women really had the time and energy to undertake such treatments!

Apparently not one of the figures painted by Michael Angelo (1508 and 1512) in the Sistine Chapel displayed pubic hair, indicating an ambiguous attitude and astheticity to this whole area of “modesty” and the nether regions!

When Francisco de Goya painted La maja desnuda, in 1797 he is reported as being summoned before the Spanish Inquisition to explain himself; this is believed to have been in response to his painting being amongst the earliest depiction of a nude women displaying pubic hair outside of images of prostitutes (shocking). Despite Goya’s upsetting of ecclesiastical authorities, his work piqued the interest of the general public and stimulated the artistic community alike.

18th Century fetishists apparently collected pubic hair as a kind of “momento”. St Andrew’s University Museum in Scotland has a collection of tufts of pubic hair collected in a snuff box, with the attached note explaining that  that the afore mentioned hair was shorn from the Royal Courtesan of King George IV.”  (How very saucy).

The most interesting phenomenon, the merkin, or pubic wig, dates back to the 1450s (think 1970s nudist camps or just bad toupees). However, this cleverly devised item was used by ladies of the night, who wore merkins to conceal the fact that they were “shaved” or had visible STDs, such as warts or syphilis; my own query would be how said item remained attached during quite-possible vigorous acts of rumpy-pumpy (realistically a no-frills experience) and the above mentioned “issues” becoming exposed (am I being naïve here?)

The modern day equivalent of the merkin, is contemporary actors using these “genital area toupee’s” during intimate filming to support the less restrictive MPAA rating (Motion Picture Association of America rating system); fascinating…

When Penthouse launched its first addition in the US in 1969, it became the first American magazine to show pubic hair. Playboy followed this trend about six months later, starting what was described as the “Pubic Wars.” (Please take a minute’s silence to contemplate this reader).

In 1987,  a group of sisters, collectively known as the J Sisters, opened their New York salon, specialising in the “Brazilian Bikini Wax”, which the siblings brought with them from their native country Brazil, due to the bikinis being “so small there” (I’m raising a satirical eyebrow here).

Fast forwarding on (even I’m getting bored) the reduction and removal of pubic hair has accelerated to the point where even men are doing it! This interesting trend is known, within the practice of “manscaping”! Just the thought of men having hair wrenched from their genitals fills me with gleeJ; finally they are experiencing some of the pain that women have been suffering since time began!

Back tracking a little though, Huffington Post blogger, Roger Friedland, in his post titled “Looking Through The Bushes: The Disappearance of Pubic Hair”, describes the school boys of yesteryear (1960s) with their utter fascination and secret yearnings behind catching a glimpse of the pubic hair of some innocent school girl, wearing the obligatory uniform skirt, on the stairwells of some fine educational institutions! It becomes difficult to perceive that an item that was the focus of such natural eroticism is now deemed to be “unsavoury”?

As a woman of a certain age, with many decades behind her, I have literally seen the “comings and goings” of pubic hair and recognise both the personal preferences and general “it’s in fashion” issue that people will tend to adhere to. While someone of my age group (50+) could blame the Porn industry and the general perception of hair being just a little bit obstructive to the possibility of “ever ready sex”, the reality is that pubic hair is apparently back (I have my sources).

Apparently various famous persons are advocating the full bush, which is somewhat of a relief, in the context of that other than  special occasions, like honeymoons, holidays or spas, the regular waxing in one’s nether regions, causes all kinds of skin and health concerns, due to the fact that it is there for a reason people!

My own issue with large amounts of hair, is that it becomes most unruly on both men and women over a certain age. My own personal preference, for both myself and others, is just a jolly good trim done regularly, with all the strays round the age being shaved or removed! I suggest this is as important to men as to women, who forget that it can all become a little bit “unkempt” (think un-weeded overgrown garden). In addition to the age thing, we all start going grey everywhere which can be a massive shock to both self and others, particularly when we often spend a considerable amount of effort (as women in particular) trying to conceal this with hair dye etc. Think of the expression “does the rug match the drapes”? Well there is no easy answer to this and I don’t advise trying to dye one’s bush the same colour as one’s head hair (unless of course you are sporting the silver fox look – at least it matches).

I believe personal preference is the key here and should always be encouraged to be one’s self in every area of our lives and not allow the fashion industry to dictate to anything that causes harm, or makes us look like pre-pubescent children! Tidiness and good self-care is the key J.

 

 

Beauty Blitz, The History of The Hair Down There. http://www.beautyblitz.com/history-hair-down-there Accessed 23/03/2017

Burke, J. (December 2012). A 1532 book of beauty “secrets”.  https://renresearch.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/did-renaissance-women-remove-their-body-hair/.  Accessed 23/03/2017

Friedland, R. (June 2011)Looking Through The Bushes: The Disappearance of Pubic Hair”,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roger-friedland/women-pubic-hair_b_875465.html

Accessed 23/03/2017

 

 

 

The Things That Crush your Spirit (and my idealistic solution)

Was there a time in your life when your hopes were high and your responsibilities low? An era when you were told (and even worse believed) that you could have anything, and achieve anything, because you lived in the first world and all it took was hard work and a positive attitude to be living a glorious life.

To some extent, this was almost true! We had pocket money,  indoor loos and pastel coloured bathrooms suites (oh dear), access to a university education, wild holidays on Greek Islands and Ibiza, sex without the overriding fear of pregnancy, booze, recreational drugs, and a gap year, culminating in a good job, meals with friends and an affordable mortgage on your “oh so cool” bachelor pad!

By the time you reach your thirties, hope remains, but your responsibilities have increased to the point where the glow on your dreams has dimmed, somewhat, and a nagging doubt starts to emerge that you have turned in to your parents (yikes)!!!

First we get in to a sensible relationship (because that’s what everybody does right?) then we get a house where we are brainwashed in to filling it with stuff from Ikea or “up cycled furniture “ in the name of individuality (no offense meant concerning either of those choices). Then comes the first child, followed by the need for a “bigger place”, and you wake up one morning wandering how the hell you got here??

Now I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but life can get to the point where it becomes like Groundhog day (blending together like some suspicious-tasting–organic-smoothie), including the successful career that you invested some much time and money to get in to (and wanted so much at the beginning). Daily Soul Crushers like your “job” can become progressively more overstretching –or worse- mundane to the point where the world starts to turn grey and the only thing you look forward to is that drink with your mates on the way home from work, or putting your key in the door of your family home where you can’t wait to “pop the cork” on the life saving bottle of wine that feels like the only thing that can get you through the evening!

And the kids (I know we are never supposed to share these thoughts); you might love them enough to walk on hot coals to protect them, but let’s face it folks, parenting is a job, with not many days off, no pension scheme, sick days or finishing time! The whining, grizzling and projectile vomiting; the bad dreams in the middle of the night, in addition to the little problems at school, the fact that they will never match up to societies’ ridiculously high standards, and can chew on every one of your last nerves! These daily experiences can crush your spirit, with life itself feeling like Edvard Munch’s “SILENT SCREAM” (1893).

19th Century philosopher, Henry David Theroux (1817–62) said:

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation” (1854)

Or,

“To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.” (Theroux 1854)

What a tragedy indeed Reader; we are so busy trying to live the dream, we lose the essence of who we really are and could reach the end of our lives only to realise that we haven’t lived at all.

Let me tell you Reader, as another dawn approaches, and your tired and weary sprit sinks, as the sun rises, the human spirit is far stronger than you ever thought possible; even a suicidal person will cling to a raft if suddenly tipped overboard. It is a reflex and part of the human condition to preserve one’s self at all costs, indicating that the desire to survive dwells within all of us. That being the case Reader, don’t you owe it to yourself to find a way to keep your spirit alive; where life persists, so does hope!

The solutions can be both complicated and simple! If you woke up tomorrow following some kind of national disaster, what would your priorities be? Outside of the obvious needs such as food and water, shelter and safety; the answer lies with the people we love. Love has many faces and we don’t always appreciate this until it is too late!

We spend so much time complicating our lives to become pro-social; chasing after things both tangible and hypothetical that we lose our essential self in the process. Don’t get me wrong Reader, conformity is not a dirty word; it is part of the socially transmitted behaviours that supports human group survival, but must we conform at the cost of who we are as individuals.

The three things we need as humans are: someone to love, something to do and something to hope for.  I would suggest another necessity: that of being your most authentic self! I urge you Reader not to give up on HOPE, despite the dark cul-de-sac of responsibilities (and despair) we can find ourselves in at times (or even a lot). Don’t you owe it to yourselves (and those you love) to find and be your best self, while you still have life and breath in you? Remember that rock bottom can be fertile ground to solve problems and make meaningful changes. Start “living” your bucket list now!!!

Written with Love and Hope! AEB J

HENRY DAVID THOREAU, Walden, (1966). Originally published in 1854.

The Club de Marco!

Birmingham’s famous Moseley Village has been triumphantly labelled the best place in the UK for city living. This cute little suburb topped the list of Britain’s best 50 urban districts! Nestled 3 miles south of Birmingham City Centre, it is easily reached on the number 50 bus by all manner of students and other “fun seeking individuals” looking for an evening of debauchery and hedonism, to while away their leisure time.

There is a little known, but increasingly popular venue, frequented by Moseley’s elite party folk, currently known as “The Club de Marco”. Its location remains a secret as attendees are hustled in to this private location blindfolded (and sometimes in the boot of a Ford Capri). Most are willing participants, although some are just easily led, while being under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol, when the local alehouses call time.

When one attends this crunchy and groovy venue, time stands still! Attendees have been seen leaving at 6 am on any weekend morning, blinking and somewhat dazed, wandering what has just occurred in this “parallel universe”.??

While Moseley has been praised for its “village community”, it is basing these results on factors such as schools, crime rates, number of hipsters, house prices and transport links, but not the secret world of “The Club de Marco”!

While local newspapers have claimed that the biggest asset in Moseley is Cannon Hill Park, it now has a serious contender for this role; notably the mysterious Club de Marco!

As one crosses the threshold to this live music/chill out venue, local musicians can be heard singing soulful tunes with various forms of accompaniment (including the playing of dessert spoons on occasions). The DJ and club owner, otherwise known as Marco (yet to be identified), plays a wide variety of tunes, both obscure and crowd pleasing. Attendees sometimes find themselves being lured in to erotic scarf dancing and limbo competitions in the context of subtle lighting and an atmosphere of wild abandonment.

Many a cocktail has been shaken and served at this venue (nobody really knows the prices but no one complains). Wine of a dark and rich nature is poured freely while individuals have recalled “drinking straight out of the bottle”, with no care for the germs and saliva one might be sharing with their fellow drinkers!

When party goers start to flag, a cab is called for them by the illustrious Marco himself! They are then escorted politely from the building, to a local taxi rank, ensuring a safe passage home from the “Club de Marco”. When questioned about these experiences later, participants tend to stare in to the middle distance and are unable to form words!

If attendees are unable to leave (for whatever reason) the “Club de Marco “offers a limited hotel service!

The “Hotel de Marco” is an interesting arrangement, something along the lines of “Airbnb” although a little less formal! The bedrooms are limited and one may wake up in a previously empty bed “spooning” a number of other guests! One might also gain consciousness with the Proprietor snoring gently beside you clad in nothing but a pair of Calvin Klein boxers.

The morning ablutions and “breakfasting” might feel a little unsettling for those of a more delicate nature, as you could be forced to make beverages for yourself and anyone else that has survived the evening, having rustled through a few of Marco’s kitchen cupboards. The Manager himself, may not wake up until after your gracious departure, as you stumble out clutching last night’s coats and handbags, sporting the beginnings of a pulsing headache.

As Lonely Planet writer (and occasional party goer), Ms Beaverhousen has stated, “The Club & Hotel de Marco is a not-to-be-missed-local-cultural-experience, adding an additional feature to the already fabulous Moseley Village. However, one must remember that the first rule of “Club de Marco” is “there is no Club de Marco”!

 

The Magic Of Medication

This is julie’s very first post

The magic of medication:

The ugly truth is that medication is great! Particularly prescription medication like the kind that pharmaceutical companies have spent years developing and patenting.

I know that the modern way is to tough it out, not bother going to your GP (because you can’t get an appointment any way) and when you do finally give in and go it’s because you want him/her to prescribe you something that is going to make you feel better; after all what are our GP’s there for?

I know from personal experience that attending the GP with a view to leaving with a prescription is all too frequently an anti-climax as he/she stares at the screen and says that you should try hot milk, or a hot bath to cure sleeplessness (because of course I’m far too stupid to have thought about or explored these lesser remedies myself). Or when you attend with a respiratory infection, having infected most of the people in your office and the GP’s waiting room, and the response is literally “you have to get over it yourself” (while taking down with you enough people to populate a small country). The result of this “non-prescribing” policy is of course that we all just take more time off work, which costs employers and the economy a shed load of money, not to mention the impact on productivity in the work place!

An additional argument to support the “loosening of the prescription pad strings” is that people end up SELF MEDICATING and we all know what that means; cannabis, the all too respectable bottle of wine every night, abuse of over the counter meds including things like Co-codamol, Day and Night Nurse, all of which administer an excellent buzz in the right combinations and proportions.  The result of all this SELF MEDICATING is that people develop OTHER health problems associated with this “off the shelf” management of their ailments, which let’s face it folks, would have been treated by your GP back in the good old days with some good old sleeping pills and an SSRI prescription.

And what about conditions not deemed as illnesses but part of the life-cycle, like the MENOPAUSE!!

Back when my mother and her peers were approaching “that time” in their life, they were freely and happily prescribed HRT; GP’S were handing them out like smarties and women frequently stayed on it right up to retirement age. Of course they may have developed a few health conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure but weigh that up against large numbers of middle aged women going what can only be described as “a little bit batty” (and that’s being polite) most of these women when questioned, look back very fondly on what can only be described as the HRT years. They were Oestrogen fuelled, full of bosom and oddly confident well in to their late 50’s, while most of today’s menopausal women are sharing shaving foam with their husbands while everything else droops and sags!  It’s just not fair.

And what about cognitive enhancers which include drugs like METHYLPHENIDATE (Ritalin to you and me)? The benefits included enhanced study skills and concentration and if it’s safe enough to prescribe to children, why not the worn out parents and professionals being forced to juggle family life, aging relatives, their professional world and goodness knows what else (these will of course be the same crowd who are going home at night sagging with exhaustion and cracking open that bottle of wine).

In my opinion the medical profession need to just lighten up and stop being so stingy with the meds, after all if we were actually able to measure the COST-BENEFIT of prescribing, versus non-prescribing, I think they would find they have the power to make this rough and bumpy ride on planet earth a much happier place. Discuss J !!!

Disclaimer: I have a fabulous GP, empathise with the pressure they are all under and recognise the issues around antibiotic resistance.