Pubic shaving appears to have been around since ancient times. It’s intriguing to note that, as shown in the first two pictures below, while ancient Greek nudes of men have elaborately carved curly pubic hair, nudes of women are hair free. According to Paige Walker at Berkley, “since this pubic hairlessness was … not remarkably unusual in the goddess Aphrodite, renowned for her beauty, one may infer that the Classical Greeks also considered the depilated female genitalia to be beautiful.” (The author represents the practice as some kind of male power play, but this seems to me to be a very modern ‘PC’ interpretation.)
Pubes through the ages
(From right to left: detail from The Three Graces; detail Roman male nude; detail from the tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep; Queen of the Night relief; relief from the Porta Vittoria)
Roman women also practiced pubic hair removal, by shaving, waxing or with tweezers, and under their influence the fashion spread far and wide. But the Greeks and Romans were by no means the first cultures to practice pubic depilation. The third image shows part of an Egyptian mural featuring several figures visiting a barber. The man shown on the left is having his pubic hair plucked by the attendant at his feet. The fourth image is of the Mesopotamian goddess Ianna Ishtar, similarly free of pubic hair.
It appears that practice was brought back to the West by returning crusaders. Apart from the written record, there’s plenty of evidence in art and painting. One extraordinary example is shown in the image on right. It’s is a relief dating from the 13th century showing a woman shaving her pubic hair, from the ancient city walls of Milan.