It is widely known that women in the Victorian era had an obsession with looking pale – and by pale, we mean dead-like. Having skin that was almost translucent meant that you didn’t spend time outside in the sun working and belonged to the upper class.
Among many other cosmetic tricks to achieve the “sickly” look, women used to bleach their faces. In fact, there was a beauty manual that told women to cover their faces with lettuce leaves and then use ammonia to wash their faces in the morning. Nothing like a little ammonia to make you look fresh in the morning!
Beneath the tightly laced corsets that defined the fashion of the 1800s, there was yet another secret: piercings. Bosom piercings, to be precise, were a daring trend that captivated the European fashion scene. Women who wanted to make a statement and push societal boundaries adorned themselves with gold rings, each carefully placed through the delicate skin of their bosoms. While the notion that these piercings could enhance breast growth or correct their shape may seem far-fetched today, it was a prevailing belief at the time.
Victorian women were willing to endure pain and discomfort in pursuit of societal acceptance. The presence of these hidden piercings serves as a reminder that even in the primmest and proper of eras, individuals were willing to challenge norms and express their individuality through daring and unconventional means.
The Water Cure
During the 19th century, hydrotherapy became a prevailing trend in the medical field. It gained popularity as a seemingly miraculous solution for a wide range of ailments, from hair loss in men to the treatment of female "hysteria." The practice involved immersing oneself in hot or cold water with the belief that it could bring about healing and rejuvenation. Hydrotherapy clinics catered to the wealthy who sought these therapeutic experiences.
People flocked to these establishments, eagerly indulging in the treatments, hoping for a cure. While the effectiveness of hydrotherapy remains dubious, it undoubtedly provided a lucrative business opportunity for enterprising physicians. Whether it was the placebo effect or genuine belief in the healing powers of water, hydrotherapy served as a symbol of the era's fascination with medical advancements and the pursuit of well-being.
They Threw Mummy Unwrapping Parties
With Napoleon's invasion of England in 1798, a fascination with ancient Egyptian culture spread across Europe. In Victorian times, the interest was particularly taken up by an unlikely source: macabre mummy fanatics! Their obsession with mummies far exceeded what could be described as a scientific curiosity, instead becoming something unnerving.
Wealthy collectors in London were known for throwing wild parties, with a mummified human body as their star guest. People would sip drinks while watching professional surgeons unwrap the ancient cadaver as though performing an art exhibit. Accompanying commentary explained what guests were witnessing, revealing details about the skin condition, hair length, and more.
The Convenient Bathing Machines
In Victorian times, it was greatly frowned upon for women to be enjoying a day at the beach in their swimsuits next to a male companion. (Good heavens, think of the disgrace!) But it seems that rules to keep men and women 60 feet apart at beaches wasn’t enough.
And so the famous ‘bathing machine’ came to be – it was basically a large wooden hut on wheels that was dragged by horses or humans into the water so women could go straight from changing into their bathing suits to jumping in the water without anyone having to see them.