Many fashion enthusiasts would pledge that beauty requires sacrifices. If we sit down and thoroughly analyze the meaning of that, we realize that this is true. Even a plain haircut requires some sort of offering – in this case, time. But for the most part, the most present enemy we fight against in the name of beauty is pain. And I’m not just talking about waxing or eyebrow plucking, but about stylistic choices that can pose a serious threat to our health and even life. Fortunately, 21st century mentality condones these kinds of choices, but we couldn’t possibly ever compare the relatively liberal world we currently live in with the way it used to be centuries, or even mere decades, ago. Women in particular were required to follow certain dress codes in other to fit in with the beauty standards of the time, often gravely endangering their well being in the process. You can find some examples in this list with the Top 10 Most Dangerous Fashion Trends Through History.
A common trend in Europe, crinolines were the accessory behind the spectacular aesthetic of puffed dresses. Sure, a voluminous dress that also happens to beautifully flow along with your movements is quite the sight, but this effect wasn’t achieved without a price. Crinolines aren’t really life endangering, but the materials used at the time (horse hair, to be specific) made it very possible to get nasty rashes. In many cases, they got tangled in the wheels of carriages and resulted in serious injuries. But perhaps the biggest problem was discomfort. Can you imagine trying to fit through a narrow door while wearing that?
9. High Heels
Not all of the trends on this list have died out. High heels are incredibly popular today, despite the damaging effects they can have on your health and the life endangering situations they can put you in. You may already know this, but wearing high heels takes in time a serious toll on joints, circulation and bones. Moreover, not knowing how to walk in them can result in injuries as bad as broken ankles.
8. Tooth Lacquering
This process was very popular in Japan and Vietnam. Before the Japanese government banned it in 1870, that is. It used to be a traditional ritual that marked the coming of age of a young woman or, sometimes, a young man. Tooth lacquering basically involved dumping chemicals all over your teeth for about one week straight, until they turned black. Obviously, putting chemicals anywhere near your mouth is always a bad idea, even if this tradition does have some very few benefits too.
7. Powdered Wigs
The defining fashion trend of 17th century France was brought to style by Louis XIII, who desperately wanted to cover up the fact that he was going bald. Apparently, he made quite the statement, since the promiscuous wigs quickly picked up and became the trademark of aristocracy at the time. Unfortunately, the lack of hygiene around them and the constant perfuming and powdering was basically a widely open door for guests such as moths, lice and even mice. Yikes.
6. Lead Face Paint
Centuries ago, the biggest proof of European beauty was represented by paleness. The whiter your skin was, the more beautiful you were considered to be. This is why women chose to enlighten the shade of their skin by covering it up with make-up. Unfortunately, the paint they used was packed with toxins that could unleash a whole array of unpleasant aftermaths, including rotting teeth, headaches and even death.
I don’t think there was ever a trend that was more popular than the obsessive idea that incredibly thin waists were the epitome of beauty. They were considered very feminine, and in comparison managed to bring out the bust and hips. The popularity peak was reached in the Victorian era, when women were trying to achieve the effect by wearing corsets. Or, to put it more honestly, by forcibly squeezing their waists in until they were on the verge of barely being able to breath. But, oh, the consequences don’t end here: corsets could also cause indigestion, fainting and even internal bleeding.
4. Rib Removal
Did you think that corsets were bad? What about removing pieces of your body, all for the sake of achieving insane beauty standards? This is what Victorian women were rumored to have done. Apparently, once they figured out that the floating ribs protecting the backside of our organs weren’t that necessary, they chose to kick them out and thin their waists. Some historians claim these rumors are false, but given that there are celebrities in our days who went through this surgery, is it really that impossible?
3. Neck Extension
Meet the Kayan people from Burma. They strongly believe that the absolute sign of beauty is a really long neck. And in order to achieve this ideal, their women start wearing neck rings. The process is quite slow and gradual: you first put one ring, then another, and another. However, this process doesn’t actually make the neck longer, and instead it pushes down your clavicle and adds pressure to the rib cage by extension.
2. Stiff High Collars
It’s not just women who had to make sacrifices for beauty ideals, but men as well. Even though a plain, old collar doesn’t seem like much of a threat, 19th century collars were extremely stiff, since they were meant to result in a strong neckline, considered very attractive by women. The bad side was that they often led to asphyxiation or death. But I guess to them it was worth it?
1. Foot Binding
All the other entries were walks in the park compared to this one. In 11th and 12th century China, small feet were considered to represent ideal femininity. The only way to reach them was by completely changing bone structure. This means that basically they had the bones of their feet broken, a process as tormenting as we make it sound, which often resulted in death because of infections, shock or pain. The worst part is that this practice was banned only in the 20th century, so it’s very likely that today you can still find women who experienced this awful trend first-hand.
All in all, let’s just say that I’m sure we’re all glad most of these Top 10 Most Dangerous Fashion Trends Through History have died out, with several known exceptions. Let us not repeat these deeds and learn from our mistakes.