Society does a lot of weird things to attain an imagined image of beauty. We deform our hair, our bodies, and our faces in the name of fashion trends. Nothing is ever quite the right size and shape for us. But as crazy as modern society is, history has a lot to teach us about just how insane fashion trends were back in the day. Check these out and be glad you weren’t around when these were popular.
1. Radioactive Hair
Before Radioactivity’s highly dangerous properties were fully understood, radium was used as a way to make hair appear shinier and smoother. After multiple treatments, hair would glow (as radium does), before ultimately falling out, because, well, radium. Nice one, history.
2. Foot Binding
Popular in Imperial China in the 10th or 11th century, foot binding became a popular way to displaying social status. Basically, the wealthier you were, the less work you had to do, and the more you could afford to be carried around as an invalid. Ultimately the goal was to wrap the feet as tightly as possible, even breaking them if necessary to where they would only take up 4 to 5 inches on the ground. Pretty intense stuff.
3. Neck Rings
The ideal beauty of a longer, slender neck is taken too far with this beauty trend. Rings are added at a young age to encourage the shoulders to dip, giving the impression of a longer neck. The muscles beneath the coil weaken, resulting in a neck that needs the coils to feel comfortable. Talk about a high price for beauty.
4. Bottle Green Clothing
For a time in history, the most popular color was bottle green. Husbands would rush out to buy their wives beautiful dresses in this color. The only problem? At the time, the green color was only achieved by using Arsenic. Which is, you know, kind of toxic.
5. Lead Powder
Speaking of toxic, lead powder was used on faces in the 18th century to allow the user to appear whiter. This kind of flips modern tradition on its head, since we’re so focused on getting the perfect tan these days. Back in the day, you’d be willing to poison yourself with lead just to have a paler skin tone.
6. The Crinoline
The Crinoline was basically a cage you put under your dress to make it seem grander and more beautiful. The only problem? This thing was big, and it widened the dress to a point where you would knock things over constantly. No big deal, right? Unfortunately, this was also when houses were still lit by candlelight, meaning that house party might not end so well.
7. The Fontange
This popular headdress was comprised of ribbons and laces, meant to tie into the hair, only it was incredible flammable. Women didn’t seem to have much luck with fire back in the day.
8. Stiff High Collar
Men’s fashion was dangerous too. For a period of time, it was popular to wear a collar as stiff and high as you could get. This led to suffocation in some cases, and an apparent case of a man falling and almost beheading himself with his own collar.
This one’s apparently making a comeback in modern society, with ‘waist trainers’ being sold on Amazon and other major retailers. The Kardashians swear by them, but before you run out to make a purchase, remember that these things don’t have a great track record. Crushed organs, lungs that aren’t so great at breathing anymore, fractured ribs, and passing out are major side effects of corsets. So maybe skip out on them in modern times.
10. Rib Removal
In the name of achieving a slender waist, some women in history have even resorted to having entire ribs removed. No, we’re not joking. Apparently this was also popular during the era where surgeries were a little more dangerous than they are now. You can imagine what comes next. Infection, death, complications, etcetera. Spooky stuff just to look good.