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Called by some a “vagina wig,” the Oxford English Dictionary defines the noun, merkin, as “an artificial covering of hair for the female pubic region.” And although given the recent popularity of meticulous waxing and grooming of one’s nether regions you may think the merkin must be a modern invention, in fact, it has actually been around for at least five centuries.

While the OED lists the word’s earliest appearance at 1617 in John Taylor’s Three Weekes Observer as “Mistris Minks recouer her lost mirkin,” the Oxford Companion to the Body dates the actual practice of wearing a pubic wig to the mid-15th century, and it may actually go back much further.

It appears the merkin’s original purpose was highly practical: women, particularly prostitutes, shaved their pubic hair to combat pubic lice and maintain better hygiene, but then for cosmetic reasons, donned the wig to cover up their bare bits. Such a wig had the great advantage of also being easy to remove and clean in a much harsher fashion than attached hair, to ensure things stayed as hygienic as possible… read more >

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