It’s difficult to judge past cultures or even current ones on the way they perceive beauty versus the way we do. But with such a long history of beauty standards, it’s not surprising that we’ve had some unusual trends, and in some cases, shocking. Here are some trends whose end definitely didn’t justify the means.
ONCE YOU GO BLACK
In Japan, around 200 A.D., once you went black, you never went back. Of course we’re talking about dyeing one’s teeth. The practice was known as Ohaguro and women used a dark brown solution made out of dissolved iron fillings in vinegar. Not only was it trendy, but it prevented tooth decay!
YOUR LOBES ARE DROOPY
To this day, the Maasai tribe of Kenya believes that ear-stretching is essential for Kenyan beauty in both men and women. So they stretch their earlobes to impossible lengths using stones, twigs, elephant tusks, and thorns. Then they’ll wear metal hoops through the stretched-out earlobes. Ouch!
YOU’RE SUCH A LARD
Back in 18th Century Europe, big and puffy wigs made out of lard were trendy. But they were also pretty heavy. The wigs were made out of wooden frames that the hair was draped over. But to keep the hair in place, it was glued with lard paste which wasn’t a guy magnet, but it certainly attracted a lot of rats.
During China’s Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) women practiced the art of Hikimayu which involved plucking or shaving their natural brows completely and then painting on black, blue or green eyebrows that were curved upward. Mr. Spock would have been touched.
During China’s Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), both sexes grew their nails out eight to ten inches. Some women would even wear gold nail guards to preserve their pointy manicures. But only upper-class citizens were allowed to do this to show off that they were super rich versus the lowly commoners.
PALE AS A GHOST
In 18th century England, women wanted to look unnaturally white, so they used a powder containing Venetian ceruse, which is a mixture of white lead and vinegar. Then they’d apply red lead on their cheeks to make them look rosy. Eventually, the lead broke down, causing scars and illnesses.
THE TAPEWORM DIET
If you thought diets were extreme today, you should have seen what they used in the early 20th century. Dieters ingested beef tapeworm cysts that would grow into a 30 ft long creature inside the intestines. Then they’d take an anti-parasitic pill to poop out the tapeworm once they reached their ideal weight.
WHO’S GOT TUMS?
During the early 1800’s, poet, and politician Lord Byron drank vinegar every day and even ate potatoes bathed in vinegar. Unfortunately, this caused vomiting and diarrhea, but it didn’t stop young women, including Queen Victoria, from following in his footsteps. Talk about some serious heartburn!
BIND YOUR FOOT
In China, when a girl was around 5 or 7 years old, the toes on her feet, minus the big toes, would be broken and laid against the sole, creating a triangular shape. The feet were then held in place with a silk strip. Over time, the wrappings became tighter. The two-year-process would result in small, dainty feet.
PLUG AND EAT
In Ethiopia, girls that are 15 or 16 never need to ask their parents to pass them a plate. That’s because their lower lip already gets one after it gets cut. The cut is held open by a wooden plug until the wound heals over a three month period. Some lip plates can be as long as 12 centimeters in diameter.