In the Victorian Era, having soft, white hands was a sign of social status, as they revealed that one had not been subjected to hard physical labor. To keep up appearances and hide their working-class roots, both men and women donned gloves as armor against rough environmental elements…and even harsher judgment from high society.
What’s more, regardless of their class, women always wore gloves when leaving their homes, as exposing their hands to someone other than close family or friends was dishonorable. And, of course, there were different gloves for different occasions – some high-class men used seven different pairs of gloves in one single day!
If you were seeking amusement and entertainment during the Victorian era, a visit to a local fair would offer an entirely different experience compared to today. Unfortunately, one dark aspect of that time involved the exploitation of individuals who looked different as human attractions. Among them was "The Dog-Faced Boy," a child who suffered from a rare condition that caused excessive hair growth on his face and body.
Rather than understanding and supporting individuals with such conditions, they were put on display for public curiosity and amusement. It is a grim reminder of how society's perception of differences and the treatment of those who deviate from societal norms has evolved over time.
Theater of Death
Public safety was not a top concern during the Victorian era and this lack of emphasis on safeguarding the public extended to public spaces such as theaters. Surprisingly, theaters of that time lacked emergency exits or fire escapes, making them potential tinderboxes. With stage lanterns, wooden stages, and stage curtains all susceptible to catching fire, the risk was ever-present.
In the unfortunate event of a fire, the audience found themselves trapped with no means of escape, leading to chaotic stampedes and a tragic loss of lives. The absence of proper fire safety measures serves as a stark reminder of the importance of prioritizing public safety in our modern era.
The Art of Fan Seduction
Etiquette and proper behavior were everything back in the Victorian era, so even flirting had to be done within the social norms. For this, women had their trusty fans – without uttering a single word, women could be playfully flirty with any gentleman in the room through their fan movements.
There was even a book written about “The Language of the Fan” that explained what each gesture stood for – putting a fan close to one’s lips meant “come and kiss me.” Women of every social class used this nifty prop, with upper-class women obviously having the most opulent and adorned ones.
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.