Ever whitened your teeth with urine? The Romans did. Ever use lead-based face powder? The Tudors did. Arsenic to make your skin luminous or Belladonna to brighten your eyes – no? Clearly, Edwardian beauties were made of sterner stuff. How about hot wax dropped onto your eyelashes to lengthen them or lemon juice in your pupils to brighten them? Fancy a smaller waist? Simples! Have a couple of ribs removed. When not otherwise engaged in covering up piano legs and shooing underfed kids up chimneys, the Victorians did the lot. Sharper cheekbones anyone? No pain no gain. 1940s film star, Joan Crawford had a couple of back teeth removed. She never ate steak again, but she looked mighty good in them thar flicks.
Dear, oh, dear! Makes you glad we live in more enlightened times, doesn’t it? No chance of us blinding ourselves with Lash Lure eyelash – in the 1930s they didn’t see it coming. Rat poison hair removal cream, anyone? Guaranteed not only to smooth your legs, but, er, your scalp as well, with maybe a bit of euritis, myalgia, and arthralgi thrown in for good measure. Possibly death! Those1930s gals, again! Terrific sports, what?
And if the foregoing makes you wince, have a look at this little lot. (Caution: read on an empty stomach). Injections of a deadly toxin, Botulism, to dispense with a few wrinkles. Faces and bodies carved up by scalpel-happy surgeons. Fat sucked out. Silicone pumped in. Noses broken, trout-pout lips and gigantic plastic boobs. Chemical peels and dermabrasion (the skin burned away in one, literally sanded away in the other). Gastric bands (I’ve lost my appetite). Flesh flambéed in ultra violet radiation. Body hair ripped out by the roots or by one of those depilatory instruments of torture (dreamed up by Vlad the Impaler in a particularly imaginative moment).Starvation, for that perfect size 0 figure.
Thank God we live in 2011, eh?