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I Just Learned These 13 Historical Fashion And Beauty Facts And, Honestly, I'm Creeped Out

When they say beauty is suffering, I think this is what they meant.

1. In some cultures, women’s feet were repeatedly broken and folded to create tiny feet. Then, they wore lotus shoes to keep their feet bound.

A photo of lotus shoes used to bind feet of young girls
Viewstock / Getty Images

These lotus shoes were cone and sheath-shaped footwear and were made to help keep feet from growing. The practice was officially outlawed in 1912, but there are still some traces of the practice happening in secret years after.

2. People in the 1800s used to believe eyelashes fell out from excessive sex. To prove their chastity, women had eyelashes implanted using needles.

A woman laying down while having her lashes filled in
Aj_watt / Getty Images

You guessed it — a lot of people died from infections (and probably a needle to the eye).

3. In the Victorian era, bottle-green dresses were super popular, and lots of women wanted them. Oh, and it was green because it was dyed using a lot of arsenic.

A photo of a green dress on display with traces of arsenic.
Rick Madonik / Toronto Star via Getty Images

Lots of women had nausea, impaired vision, terrible skin reactions, and more. Oh, and a lot of garment makers died from the fumes.

4. During the Victorian era, women adopted tapeworm diets in the form of pills to remain thin.

Photo of two jars filled with liquid and long tapeworms
Choksawatdikorn / Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

Yes, it resulted in weight loss. But the tapeworms could also attach themselves to other vital organs and cause infections.

5. Women sat under a permanent hair waves machine for about 10 hours to achieve wavy hair. Often, the machine would malfunction.

A model having her hair permed by a permanent wave machine
Archive Photos / Getty Images

It would lead to severe burns, bald spots, and sometimes lethal damage.

6. In many countries, elongated necks are seen as a symbol of beauty. This is achieved by wearing and increasing brass coils around the neck, starting in childhood.

Photo of a woman's elongated neck with brass coils
Khaichuin Sim / Getty Images

Many women will wear these brass coils for the rest of their lives, as the practice severely weakens neck muscles, which after some time can't support the head anymore.

7. Think everyone wants pearly white teeth? As early as 250 AD, the practice known as ohaguro meant women were staining their teeth black as a sign of beauty.

Photo of Japanese woman with blackened lips to signal her teeth blackening technique
Heritage Images / Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images

Pieces of iron were placed into cups of tea, and once oxidized, were drank to stain the teeth. It actually strengthened the teeth, as the black covering prevented tooth decay.

8. In European countries, having a pale face was a sign of beauty. People achieved it by painting their faces with lead paint.

Vera Livchak / Getty Images

It caused rotting teeth, headaches, hair loss, and more.

9. In the 1910s, French designer Paul Poiret created the “hobble skirt,” which was so tight that women had to literally change their walking pattern.

A black-and-white photo of a woman standing and posing in an all-black outfit
General Photographic Agency / Getty Images

He infamously said, “Yes, I freed the bust. But I shackled the legs.”

10. On the flip side, the crinoline, known as the hoop skirt, was worn in the 1800s by Victorian women and were linen stiffened with horsehair.

Woman holding up a large hoop skirt, known as a crinoline, that spans her height in width
London Stereoscopic Company / Getty Images

They were also super dangerous, and women actually died when their skirts caught flames from fireplaces. In fact, in 1858 it was estimated that there was an average of three deaths a week because of crinoline-related fires. 

11. In the 19th century, some men wore detachable collars that were starched to the point of being unbendable. The collars were lethal, as they caused slow asphyxiation or puncture wounds if someone fell.

Photo of man with thick collar posing for photo
Sepia Times / Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Many men died in their sleep from slow asphyxiation after passing out from drinking.

12. Macaroni is not only a delicious pasta dish, but also the term for a really popular hairstyle from the 1700s.

Photo of two men in Victorian wares, one with a high-standing hairstyle
Heritage Images / Heritage Images via Getty Images

It's even referenced in the popular song "Yankee Doodle."

13. Mad hatter isn't just an Alice in Wonderland reference. The phrase comes from the mercury used on hats in the 18th century that caused irreversible trembling and mental disorders.

Photo of cartoon caricature of Mad Hatter from the "Alice in Wonderland" movie
Heritage Images / Heritage Images via Getty Images

The mercury was used to make sure fur used would stick to the hat. However, hat makers would inhale the chemical, and many died due to its results.

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