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“Suffer for fashion”: 8 painful beauty trends throughout history

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Throughout history the expression “you need to suffer to be beautiful” often was the case.  For a long time, women have had to alter their natural appearance so as to conform to the beauty norms of their period. Often they’d need to suffer many physical and mental health consequences. 

Beauty norms for our ancestors would come across as completely crazy in today’s society.  What is more women really has to suffer to be on trend!  We love it if all shapes and sizes could be accepted by society and that beauty tips only involved  creams or even better massages.  However in the past you really did have to suffer be considered beautiful!  After seeing these 8 painful beauty trend over history you’ll consider yourself lucky to live in today’s society!

1/ Feet binding custom, China

Feet binding was for a long time considered a symbol of femininity in China.  From the age of five years old girls suffered their feet being bandaged.  They had foot bindings for two years until their feet measured  7 cm. Their feet were first soaked in hot water infused with herbal medicines and then their toes (except the big toe) were folded against the sole of their foot and held by bandages in pointed shoes. Gradually their foot started to resemble the bud of lotus flower.  This practice was eventually banned by the Chinese government but only in 1912… Chinese women often had necrotic toes or joint lesions. About 10% of young women with sepsis would have died as a result of this technique.

pieds bandes chaussures pointues chine souffrir pour être belle
Credits: Wikipedia/Edited:

2/ Corset, Europe

The corset first appeared in the Renaissance period in the heart of Spain. This fashion accessory (or torture method) emphasised a women’s “ideal” body shape, a slim waistline and a voluptuous bust.  It was worn by women until about the beginning of the twentieth century.  To achieve this hourglass figure, women had to endure a lot of pain.  The corset compressed their organs and prevented them from breathing properly and could bring on illness due a shortage of air.  The corset also affected atrophied muscles or displaced ribs. The accessory was abandoned in 1910, but a small handful of stars have surprisingly brought this outdated accessory into the modern day…

gravure corset mode souffrance
Credit: Wikipedia/Edited:

3/ Belladonna eye drops, Italy

Back in the middle ages, belladonna (a very poisonous plant) was used by witches in a mixture of other plants to make a cream.  This concoction apparently allowed them to fly and see Satan… In the Renaissance period, belladonna was used to put into your eyes.  This was THE beauty tip of the Italian ladies of the time.  Drops of belladonna dilated their pupils giving them deep dark eyes that represented purity and innocence.  However this magic recipe brought on a lot of collateral damage.  Many women were diagnosed with strabismus, a visual inability to concentrate, heart palpitations and even a risk of blindness.

yeux étonnement surprise souffrir pour être belle

4/ Lead makeup, Great Britain

Although our beauty norms have changed nowadays, in the 16th and 17th century, all women seemed to want to look like Elizabeth I.  Just like the queen women would apply thick white make up made with white lead and vinegar.  The aim was to make their skin very pale just like the queen. She used this concoction to hide scars left by small pox.  Unfortunately this beauty tip gradually poisoned these fashion conscious ladies. It caused notorious side effects like dry skin, constipation, gray hair, paralysis or organ failure.  Should the cost the be beautiful be your life?

reine Angleterre maquillage beauté
YouTube screenshot: MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS Official Trailer Margot Robbie/Zero Media