Yesterday Evan Rachel Wood created plenty of internet buzz by speaking out about the merkin she will be wearing in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce. So what are merkins, and what other actresses have worn them?
The wondrous little wig was created sometime in 1450 when women shaved to rid themselves of pubic lice, replacing the hair that was once there with a merkin (as a sign of being buggy, the shaved look definitely wasn’t in back then). Prostitutes also wore them to cover up the nasty marks of untreated STDs.
So what use could merkins possibly have for actresses of today? Well, the centuries-old accessory has become a useful tool in recent years for moviemakers trying to recreate nudity from eras when women didn’t shave their nether regions. Many actresses don’t go for the natural look nowadays, so it’s an easy way for them to nude scenes without giving up their weekly waxings. Plus the fact that a merkin provides some coverage might make many actresses feel more comfortable doing nude scenes. So what actresses have worn them? Well, talking about merkins has become quite trendy lately. Here’s a look at some of the ladies (and gentlemen!) who have discussed donning the coverings:
Kate Winslet is actually the actress that advised Evan Rachel Wood to wear a merkin for Mildred Pierce, having worn one herself in The Reader. After years of waxing, her pubic hair just wouldn’t grow back right, so a merkin was a simple solution.
This A Serious Man actress had a similar problem. She stopped waxing, but to no avail — the costume designer for the movie set during the ’60s had to fit her with a merkin that she dubbed “Cousin Itt.” She keeps a photo of it on her phone, but didn’t want to take it home after wearing it during bathroom breaks.
This Spartacus: Blood and Sand star is the proud owner of a “virgin merkin” after bravely doing her nude scenes in the Starz series without it (it was actually presented to her in a frame). Merkins have also been used in another period drama featuring nudity, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal
Yes, guys can wear merkins, too! Jake and Anne both donned variations of the covering in Love and Other Drugs. However, Jake explained that the term “merkin” as it’s used in Hollywood now can apply to any kind of pubic covering, not just those with hair.
Siena Miller had a very special merkin made for her in Hippie Hippe Shake, a movie set during the ‘60s — hers was actually added in later digitally.
This model mom donned a pretty fake-looking heart-shaped merkin in the movie Blow Dry.
It’s hard not to blame Sienna for not wanting to wear a real merkin — they are often made from real human hair (from the head), and have to be stuck on with an adhesive. However, some wild merkins are actually sold at fetish shops for gals to don for fun, while many drag queens use them as part of their costumes.
So with merkins being such an interesting little movie device that actresses seem so amused with lately, expect to hear more fun tales about these tufts in the future.
This article was approved by President Merkin Muffley