Beauty may only be skin-deep, but people have gone to extremes to be considered “beautiful” by cultural standards. In the past, people have literally poisoned themselves to look good, and while you may scoff, we’re still doing some pretty radical things to be pretty.
X-Rays for Hair Loss
When X-rays were discovered, people used to remove unwanted body hair. They would literally sit under X-rays for up to 20 hours. They would lose their hair and also get ulcers and cancer. It took a long time before doctors started drawing the connection, and people found other hair-removal methods.
Arsenic for Pale Skin
For a long time, having pale skin was considered the standard of beauty. To achieve this look, women would ingest arsenic, which kills red blood cells and makes the skin paler. Women would soak the arsenic out of fly paper or buy arsenic “wafers.” In addition to white skin, arsenic also makes you lose your hair and eventually kills you.
Vaginal douches are popular today, even though medical experts say it really isn’t necessary, but at least we’ve stopped recommending that women douche with lysol. In 1960, lysol was the most popular douche of choice, in addition to being a form of (ineffective) birth control.
It seems like everyone is trying to lose weight. In the early 1900’s, the diet of choice was the Tapeworm diet, which is literally what it sounds like. A person would ingest a tapeworm and would begin to lose weight, while still eating whatever they wanted. Of course, they would also experience epilepsy and meningitis.
Instead of soothing creams, this form of skin care involves a process called “micro-needling.” A tablespoon of blood is taken from a person’s arm and spun around to get out the plasma, which is then injected back into the face. It’s supposed to reduce wrinkles and improve skin tone. It also looks horrifying. Maybe it’s just me, but a spa day should not involve that much blood.