Nose jobs, it turns out, have a long history that predates the modern era of plastic surgery. In Victorian times, enterprising companies produced peculiar devices known as “nose shapers” or “nose machines.” These contraptions, usually made of metal, were strapped onto the nose and applied pressure to the soft cartilage, supposedly reshaping or straightening it.
Dr. Sid, a renowned surgeon from Paris, proudly claimed credit for inventing such a contraption. He even shared a curious tale of a 15-year-old patient who dutifully wore the device for three months until she achieved the desired nose transformation. It’s a reminder of the fascinating and, at times, peculiar methods employed in the quest for beauty throughout history.
The United Kingdom was overwhelmed with orphans at the time. According to writer and historian Sarah Wise (via Spitalfields Life), 30,000 children were living on London streets in 1869. Moneyed philanthropists set up some schools to teach the kids practical skills, but it was simply too hard to teach and 'employ' all of these children.
One woman named Annie Parlane MacPherson started an emigration program. She founded the Home Children scheme, sending poor and orphaned children to other colonies of the British Empire. Thousands upon thousands of these kids were sent to farms or homes around the world to be laborers or domestic servants.
In the 1800s, curly hair was the epitome of style, but the technology of curling irons was still in its early stages. These primitive tools resembled nothing more than tongs that had to be heated in a fire. Unfortunately, the iron would often become scorching hot, resulting in hair getting singed and burned off. Consequently, many Victorian women found themselves with unsightly bald patches.
Astonishingly, rather than abandoning the dangerous curling methods, women turned to teas and various remedies in their quest to restore their hair. Some even resorted to bathing in ammonia, believing it would miraculously stimulate hair growth. It's a testament to the lengths people would go to achieve the beauty standards of their time, even if it meant subjecting themselves to questionable practices with little scientific basis.
The First Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree was actually more of a German tradition and dates back to the 1600s. It was only in 1840 that the English population embraced it, and that was all thanks to Albert, Queen Victoria's German hubby. Albert brought the iconic tree to Windsor Castle and had it lavishly decorated; they were royals, after all!
More festive customs originated during the Victorian era, including the exchange of Christmas cards, gifts, and even Christmas crackers. The story behind Christmas crackers, legend has it, was invented by a London sweet maker named Tom Smith, who sat by the fire one evening, inspired by the crackles and sparks of the flame.
The “Tuberculosis Beauty” Trend
Believe it or not, in the Victorian era, there were women who actually believed that looking sickly was the epitome of style. The physical markers associated with tuberculosis, including weight loss, pale skin, and flushed lips, became sought-after traits. Some women went to extreme lengths, voluntarily exposing themselves to the disease in pursuit of this fashionable aesthetic.
It's a bizarre notion by today's standards, highlighting the peculiar standards of beauty that once prevailed. Thankfully, our understanding of health and beauty has evolved, and we now prioritize well-being over hazardous trends. These Victorian women certainly took the saying "beauty is pain" to a whole new level, embracing a truly peculiar and risky notion of what it meant to be fashionable.