Have you ever wondered who determined that we ladies should take small metal tongs and pull hairs out of our face, one at a time, to achieve perfectly arched eyebrows? Or who was the masochistic individual who believed the removal of hair under the arms and on each leg was a great idea for our gender? What did they have on hand to accomplish this new task; a very dull blade or were they kind enough to provide a sharp knife? We all know that Gillette’s Venus four blade with lotion was far from being invented that year. I imagine a smoke-filled lounge with men enjoying their cigars and glasses of bourbon as they determine what next idea might make their woman lovelier.
Imagine those ideas never saw the light of day. We would be utterly secure as nick-free and hair-covered females. But not so. It takes the very bravest of us in this country to throw the razors and tweezers away to enjoy the liberation of more than the hair on our head blowing in the wind.
Even though we haven’t given up those particular beauty choices, there are some that thankfully we have left behind. I call those the “What Were We Thinking?” acts when beautifying women of history. Here are just a few:
No-Fail Hair Removal
The ladies of ancient Egypt created depilatory pastes out of highly poisonous arsenic and quicklime (which we currently use to make cement). Perhaps they were married to a man looking for his next conquest, and he found this simple way to disentangle himself from his current one. “Here, honey, bought this at the stand by the Nile. I’m told it will make your skin feel so much better.”
Wigs, Grand and Tall
In the 1800s, the taller the wig, the more beautiful you appeared. So, what’s lying around the house to achieve that effect? Well, lard of course! The downside was that they had to place cages around their wigs at night to keep the rats out. The upside, squeeze that mound of hair and voila’, you could fry a chicken.
The Extreme Diet
The early 1900s brought this brilliant concept as a means to stay thin. Swallow a few tapeworm eggs which would then hatch inside of you. Their entire goal was to consume the food in your digestive tract. And we think we try crazy diets!
Tired of those cute, little spots on your face? A mixture of lemon juice and sugar with a healthy amount of Borax thrown in was the perfect answer for the ladies at the turn of the 20th century. I’m sure it also peeled a layer of skin, but if you ran out of laundry detergent, you could use this cleaner to get the whites whiter!
I call these the “What Were We Thinking?” acts of beautifying women through history. They will make you laugh and cringe!
The glamour of early Hollywood brought the “she certainly looks full of angst” eyebrow. Plucked thin and penciled downward these brows made every damsel seem to be in distress.
Bronze Sun Lovers
There was a time when it was entirely normal to stop at the local drugstore on the way to the beach to pick up a bottle of baby oil and Iodine. Pouring enough baby oil out to mix in the Iodine, you throw it in the car with the beach towels and sand buckets to slather it on every exposed area of your tender skin. You either got tan or created orange streaks—either was acceptable from your day at the beach.
The Domestic Hair Straightener
During the era of the hippie movement, long straight locks were a must. Break out the ironing board and get to work. Lay those locks where the shirts usually land, cover, and iron! The biggest challenge was avoiding the first degree burns on your neck if you didn’t have a friend to help.
The moral of this walk-through time of reflecting on what we subjected ourselves to in the past is this: the next time some trend hits the market that doesn’t work for you, don’t do it! If it looks ugly on you, don’t wear it! If it’s painful, don’t use it! If it contains questionable poison, throw it away! If it doesn’t provide the miracle results it promises, don’t buy it!
Become liberated ladies! Your real beauty will not be discovered in all these products, promises, or packages. Real beauty is found in your strength!
Don’t miss this episode of our podcast, we discuss more crazy beauty regimens of the past but also what really makes a woman beautiful: What Makes a Woman Beautiful (Might Surprise You) – 043.
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