16/12/2010 07:14 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Is Hair Removal Taking Over Our Lives?

Once upon a time, in a place not far from here, the average women didn't waste too much time or money worrying about body hair.

A weekly once-over with a ladyshave was all that was needed for smooth-ish legs and pits. Or stinky hair-removing cream could take off troublesome tufts (and the top layer of your skin) in less than ten minutes.

As a result, it wasn't all that unusual to see an older woman with an actual beard, and a bushy pant moustache was a popular way to accessorise your bikini.

Yes, this magical place was called the 80s – and back then women were fairly low maintenance when it came to de-fuzzing.

In those days, the average women would have run screaming if someone had suggested removing her knickers and arranging herself on all fours while a total stranger applied hot wax to her special place and ripped it off along with most, if not all, of her pubic hair.

It didn't occur to teenage girls to groom their lady gardens, but in recent years getting a Brazilian has become a rite of passage – and revealing a full bush in the changing rooms is likely to result in, er, pubic ridicule.

For now we live in a world where high street waxing salons have menus. The plain bikini wax is for wimps; why not try the Californian (aka the Mohican), the Brazilian, the Hollywood (where all hair is removed) or the Bollywood (aka the Vajazzle) which includes having stick-on gemstones applied to your newly-bald bits.

Pain aside – and yes, it hurts every bit as much as you think it will – the results only last up to four weeks. Considering a wax will set you back at least £25, you're looking at an annual investment of £300 just to keep your knicker line neat and tidy.

And that's before you factor in the leg and underarm waxing, the eyebrow threading and the, erm, moustache removal...

If you're getting a professional to blitz that lot, you could be looking at the best part of £1000 per year. Just think, that could buy you a pretty decent holiday – except you'd probably be too embarrassed to bare your hairy bod on the beach.

Of course, the DIY options aren't that appealing either: bleaching hair doesn't make it invisible – it just gives you a curiously ginger 'tache. Hair removing cream is messy, shaving gives you stubble rash and epilation hurts like hell. The Philips Lumea gadget, which uses Intense Pulsed Light to zap hairs, is getting rave reviews – so I tried it. Early results are promising, but it doesn't come cheap at £350 and it flashes so brightly that my neighbours must think it's disco night.

Of course, the obvious solution is to just not bother. Julia Roberts doesn't shave her pits and there's a women who swims at my local pool whose inner thighs are so heavily carpeted that I can't help but stare – I haven't seen anything like it since my GCSE biology textbook.

I've wondered if she feels self-conscious, but as someone who regularly perches on a reclining chair in the middle of a busy department store to have my upper lip threaded, who am I to judge?

It seems to me that being smooth and hair free has become just one more uncomfortable and inconvenient aspect of being a woman, like having periods or walking in heels.

So we'll keep shaving and zapping and threading and waxing and hoping that one day it'll stop growing back.

And when that day finally comes, you can guarantee that body hair will come right back into fashion and you'll be wishing that you'd never messed with that monobrow in the first place...

By: Ceri Roberts