Don't let the merkin's kinky status today fool you...this pubic wig was a utilitarian friend to many back in the day. The Oxford Companion to the Body dates the origin of the pubic wig to 1450, when pubic lice was fairly common. Fed up with the annoying itch, many opted to go bare down there, but were uncomfortable with the "immodest" look it lent their nether regions. So, they slapped on this handy dandy pubic wig, and problem solved! Merkins also became popular with prostitutes who were infected with syphilis and other STDs. Having sores on your private bits apparently didn't entice clients, and covering up those pesky sores up with fancy merkins masked the problem.
–This story was originally published on March 16, 2010. Minor updates have been made.