Ever since the first bacteria tried to impress its mate by showing it how it combed its flagella, male and female members of most species go through the pains of their very own mating rituals, which usually involve at least some visual elements.
(I’m pretty sure there are at least some species out there that are total slobs and are more interested in their mate’s soul and personality. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I digress…).
Anyway, this certainly applies to humans who, since times immemorial have peacocked with the best of ’em.
So much so that this ardent desire for being noticed and to set a new trend or, the sadder, more common version, of just following a trend set by other “creatives”, led to actual health risks and downright health loss.
Here’s 5 health damaging fashion trends to feast your eyes on. But keep it to doing just that and never, ever consider adopting them. Ok?
They were a form of shoes worn predominantly in Italy in the 16th century.
Similar to the platform shoes/boots of current times, they likewise featured a high sole between 15 and 75 cm long, made of wood. But unlike modern boots which we tie up, these were more like sandals on which the lady was perched precariously.
Health problems: feet deformation, calf muscle over-usage, broken limbs and miscarriages when falling.
2. Old Fashioned Shoe Polish
Speaking of shoes, men had their own health risks in the past. Not because of their shape but because of their shine.
Unlike modern shoe polish that has to pass health regulations, in the good old days, shoe polish contained a chemical called nitrobenzene. It is toxic and can pass from the leather of the shoe, through human skin, into the body.
Health problems: varying, according to the reaction of each organism and other things the person assimilates. Can range from dizziness, shakes and feinting to actual death, especially if the person in question has ingested alcohol in the same time-frame.
3. Scheele’s Green
It’s also called Schloss Green and it’s a pigment used heavily in paints and dyes in the past, especially the Victorian Era.
At this time, Scheele’s Green became very popular due to it resulting in a more potent and durable green than the pigments used until that time.
Naturally, it was applied on anything from ladies’ dresses to candles, wallpapers and even foodstuffs.
Fun stuff? It’s based on arsenic. And is easily transferred to the body of those wearing such clothes, breathing such candle scented air or God forbid eating the foods colored with it.
It is mentioned as a possible cause of Napoleon’s death (his body has been confirmed to have had high levels of arsenic at his death), due to his walls being painted a bright green (his favorite color) and being humid due to the St. Helena island weather. Ergo, he could have inhaled the paint present in the air during his long exile.
Health problems: toxic/poisonous, carcinogenic. Can lead to gastric complications, irritations on the skin, eyes and nose, among other complications.
4. Pale Skin
We’re not done with the Victorian Era exaggerations. The standard of nobility for women of the time implied pale skin (‘cuz nobles don’t get sunburns like regular workers, see?).
To achieve this ideal, those poor women who actually had to work and couldn’t afford to waltz from one shaded room to another used all sorts of tricks to make their faces look pale. From natural, harmless ingredients like chalk, ash, egg whites, etc. to… not so natural ones.
Read a mixture of lead and vinegar. Yes, it’s not the vinegar that’s the problem in that equation.
Alternatively they would use leeches to drain their blood so that the blood loss made them look pale.
Health problems: In the case of lead, it’s toxic/poisonous. It can lead to anything from just nausea to death. In the case of leeches, they were deliberately losing blood! Therefore, anemia, tiredness, less oxygen in the body, acute strain on the heart and in the end feinting or death.
5. Hair Away by X-Ray
This one’s the most fascinating, over the top and scary… now. Because we know what radiation does to biological organisms. Well, our predecessors didn’t know so much in the beginning.
So when someone in the US proposed to use X-Rays to eliminate unwanted hair, women all over jumped at the offer due to its speed, cheapness, pain-free, targeted and wondrously effective results.
The effects of the radiation started appearing years later and people soon wised up. But it was too late for those exposed.
Health problems: genetic mutations, cancer and ultimately a very painful death.