My mother always told me we (meaning women) must suffer for beauty. She mostly said it when she tried to get me to tolerate high heels.

Even when I was very young, she and her sister loved dressing me up, complete with gloves, hats and matching shoes and purses.

It wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a tomboy, but I wasn’t the kind to fuss over how I looked.

I’m just glad my family wasn’t as misguided about health and beauty as some of our ancestors.

Topixpawsome.com lists a few “gross hygiene trends from history.”

n Bathtub water was shared by families. Even as late as my grandmother’s childhood, some families didn’t have hot running water, so they had to boil it on the stove. Families tended to be larger, too, so imagine how dirty that water would be by the time Dad, Mom and all the children finished cleaning up, perhaps after a week of not bathing. Disgusting.

n One alleged cure for baldness was a combination of chicken excrement and potassium — a case in which the cure was worse than the disease.

n When paleness was fashionable, both genders turned to lead-based white makeup, causing lead poisoning. Again, the curse-disease thing.

n Smarter women used chalk to whiten their faces, but women who might be called silly geese ate chalk, which would give them a pale face because it made them sick. Surprise!

n Many 17th-century coiffures were so tall, they caught fire from the candles in the ballroom chandeliers. My beehived-mother was lucky she was born a few centuries later.

n A mixture of gunpowder and alum (an astringent compound) was used as a tooth-cleaning solution in Regency times (from 1795 to 1837). It must’ve made your breath smell like war.

Two tactics simply distracted from the real problem.

n Chinese royalty carried pug dogs so fleas stay on the canine and off them.

n Because of infrequent baths, people carried flowers to cover their odor. Even today, some should do that.

When you think of all that unhealthy and unsavory behavior, dress shoes and gloves don’t seem as uncomfortable.

(606) 326-2661 |

lward@dailyindependent.com

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