Each epoch has its own concept of what a beauty is. But there is one thing that remains the same — there are always tricks that women use to stay fashionable and beautiful.
Bright Side wants to talk about the most unusual standards of beauty of the past and prove that the phrase “fashion victim” can apply to time gone by, not just the present.
Lipstick made of bugs and ants (Ancient Egypt)
Perhaps it was in Egypt where lipstick was the most popular. Here, almost the entire population, except for poor people, wore lipstick — and it wasn’t even for vanity but for protection from the burning sun and harsh winds. At first, it was seaweed dye, iodine, bromine, and mannitol that were used in its production. However, since this combination was very harmful, Egyptians soon learned how to make a red dye called carmine from bugs and ants. And according to the information about and images of Cleopatra, she was a big fan of red lipstick.
Foot binding (from the 10th century until the early 20th century, China)
Foot binding was used for changing the shape of young girls’ feet so that they would remain small. These feet were called “lotus feet” and symbolized the high status of a woman. Since this practice immobilized women, they usually ended up developing a number of disabilities that remained with them for their entire life.
The practice didn’t end until the beginning of the 20th century. There had been some other attempts to do it earlier, but they all failed.
Long-pointed poulaines (Middle Ages)
The length of the toes on these shoes was different for different parts of the population. Princes were allowed to wear shoes with toes up to 30 inches, for aristocracy it was 25 inches, for urbanites — 10 inches, and for simple people 5 inches. Because of these “rules,” one was able show off their status with just the help of their shoes. To prevent them from falling off, fashion mongers stuffed them with hay.
By the way, it was very inconvenient to kneel during prayers when wearing these shoes which is why church called them “Satan’s claws” and even cursed them.
“Stuffed” clothing (England, 16th century)
Sleeves that protruded around the shoulder line were popular among men in the epoch of Queen Elizabeth the First. It helped them look more respectable and more muscular. They managed to get this shape with the help of an enormous amount of batting. Sometimes they even used sawdust. And, not only did fashion mongers of those times stuff their sleeves, but also clothing in the area of their chest, belly, and even their stockings. Women did this in order to make their bust, shoulders, and hips look bigger.
Cosmetics based on radioactive elements (1930’s)
In 1898, French scientists Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium. And at the beginning of the 1930s, the markets became flooded with cosmetics that had an addition of the hazardous radioactive substance. For example, a popular line of Tho-Radia creams allowed its manufacturers make big money despite the fact that there were radium and thorium in their ingredients. The manufacturers promised women shining and radiant skin. Authorities of that time probably didn’t realize the dangerous side effects of these ingredients.
High hairdos of the Macaroni (the 18th century)
At the end of the 18th century, a group of fashion mongers called “Macaroni” appeared in England. The origins of this name have several theories — one of them says it’s because of their resemblance to a dish with the same name, another theory says that these young men liked to travel around Italy and brought their love for pasta to their motherland. The height of their hairdos reached astronomical sizes and they even put small funny hats over them. And the only way possible to take them off, was with the help of a sword.
Extremely long nails (Ancient China)
Long nails have been popular among Chinese aristocracy for many centuries. They were a symbol of wealth showing that their owner doesn’t have to work hard in the fields. Look at the famous portraits of the Empress Cixi (Qing dynasty) where she is depicted with extremely long nails that are protected with decorative fingernail covers. These nails and decorations were traditional during the times of the Qing dynasty.
Nowadays it’s also possible to see long nails on Chinese men — most often they grow only one nail but its length is not as extreme as with their ancestors.
Gladiator sweat as a cosmetic product (Ancient Rome)
Gladiators’ sweat was considered a powerful cosmetic product and was sold in souvenir stalls located around arenas where gladiator battles were held.
Chin reducer (the end of the 19th century)
In the 1890s, professor E.J. Mack created a special device that promised to remove a double chin as well as decrease enlarged glands. This device was called “pull the cords” and it looked like a torture device.
Bonus: Painted legs
There was a deficit of Nylon during the Second World War but naked women’s legs were considered obscene. So many fashion mongers found a way out of this situation by painting seams up their legs as if they were wearing stockings and sometimes they even painted their legs in the color of nylon tights. There were beauty salons that offered this procedure to their clients during this time.
It disappeared after the end of the war as nylon made its way back to women’s wardrobes.
Which of these fashions shocked you most of all? Please tell us about it in the comments!