We’ve all battled with the idea of our imperfections, whether we’re in 2017 or 1017. Women throughout centuries have been finding clever ways to mask, side step, or altogether alter their imperfections with the help of cosmetics and contraptions. Some of them were smart, some of them dangerous, and more than a few downright weird. Ahead are the weird ways women hid imperfections through history – would you have tried any of them?
1. They Used Chokers To Hide Scars
Queen Alexandra of Denmark, the queen who followed Victoria, had a penchant for wide, diamond-filled choker necklaces. While the look might have been customary for a royal, it was said that she specifically loved the style because it had a purpose: She had a scar going down her neck from a thyroid surgery, and the wide necklaces helped hide it.
Talk about a million dollar solution.
2. They Tried Scar Patches
In the 1700s, women that survived smallpox were usually left with telltale scars all over their faces and bodies, leaving them marked. In order to hide the small blemishes, fashion patches came into vogue, where people wore small stickers in the shapes of circles, hearts, crescent moons, and stars. They would stick them over their scars and decorate their face, cleavage, and shoulders with them, turning their blemishes into fashion statements.
3. They Dabbled With Eyelash Surgery
If a woman thought her lashes were lackluster but didn’t want to go through the social stigma of wearing mascara (cosmetics were a huge taboo for Victorian ladies,) then she could try corrective eyelash extensions.
The way the procedure worked was that the doctor would numb the eyelid with cocaine, pluck a hair from the lady’s head, thread it through a needle, and then thread it through her eyelid.
I would much rather have thin, short lashes, but that’s just me.
In Ancient Greek, it was seen as very beautiful for a woman to have a unibrow – it was striking and signified intelligence, so many women hoped that their arches would connect. For those who lacked the characteristic, they would try and fashion a fuzzy patch out of goat’s hair and tree resin as a kind of toupee.
While it was very in vogue during the Middle Ages to tweeze out your eyelashes, eyebrows, and hairline in order to look “innocent and pure,” some women grew their brows back after a while. Some found that during the grow out process they grew sparsely and in patches, and in order to avoid that awkward look they made eyebrow wigs out of rodent fur. These ladies were essentially wearing rat fur on their faces – ick!
The Middle Ages had a vendetta against anything that could be considered vain – from makeup to hair trinkets – and that included hair extensions. Some women liked to buy extensions so they could create more elaborate hair-dos, but priests warned during their sermons that these women were using the hair of people enjoying eternal damnation in purgatory and or hell. That was one way to scare a woman from buying some pricey locks.
People during the Middle Ages didn’t bathe very often, averaging around once a month. The church thought it was sinful to be naked and discouraged believers from appearing in the tub in the nude too often. Because of that, women had to get creative when it came to their smell. A popular work-around was to stuff small satchels of spices in strategic places – like underneath their armpits and in the bosom – to keep things semi-fresh.
Any kind of freckle or blemish during the Medieval era was risky business, since churchgoers believed those were marks left by the devil when he came into direct contact with a woman. In an attempt not to illicit a witch hunt, women had many beauty recipes and remedies to bleach away any kind of freckles or marks. One such remedy involved the blood of a bull. It was thought that if one applied the blood of a bull or rabbit on their face like a soothing face mask, those blemishes would disappear. Whether that worked is uncertain, but it does sound downright terrifying.
While most of beauty history is full of women trying to appear paler than they actually were, in the 17th-century we saw a blimp where darker hues were more in vogue thanks to the circumstances in Europe. It was during the time of the plague, and women used darker makeup to hide their pasty pallor that was linked to hiding indoors to avoid the disease. If you looked somewhat sun-kissed, it symbolically distanced you from the illness and the fear.
Being sun-kissed wasn’t the look a noblewoman wanted in the 6th-century, and like any true beauty lover knew, there was always a work around when it came to achieving perfection. If a woman felt like she wasn’t pale enough during that time, she would simply bleed herself so her complexion paled. I mean, that was hardcore.