Published Sunday, September 09, 2012
Twenty years ago, tennis-playing heartthrob Andre Agassi made millions saying “Image is everything.” He was selling cameras.
Now, “Image is everything” is the new national motto.
With notable exceptions—including the entire cast of “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo”—people seem frantic to look younger, prettier and sexier than ever before.
The idea is stupid. It’s also unfair. Especially for the ladies.
Throughout history, dudes like Liberace and Kenny Rogers have felt compelled to keep their plastic surgeons’ pockets bulging, but women agree that most men look better with a few extra years in the bank ( think Sean Connery with hair).
Girls, though, have actually been taught that the secret to a happy life was becoming pretty enough to snag a husband.
And so it was that before they decided tattoos were a suitable substitute for sexy, ladies went to extreme lengths to enhance their appearance.
The only thing that’s changed is how to achieve that glamorous look. And in just over 120 years, things have changed drastically.
Some jaw-dropping beauty secrets from long ago are presented in a book called “Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information-1889” by Barkham Burroughs.
The attitude toward women in 1889 was captured in a statement saying, “If women are to govern, control, manage, influence and retain the adoration of husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers or even cousins, they must look their prettiest at all times.”
Burroughs’ compilation includes a few of 1889’s top beauty tips. According to Burroughs’ research, women were advised to:
• “Bathe at least once a week.” If that’s not possible, a “plunge or sponge bath three times a week” will do. Women were recommended to wash with everyone’s favorite poison—ammonia—saying that, “Any lady who has once learned its value will never be without it.” Women were told that just a cap of ammonia per bath is “as good as soap” and cleans the pores “as well as a bleach will do.”
(Author’s note: ammonia still can’t beat bleach for pressure-washing a house.)
According to the book, girls should also:
• “Wash their eyes.” After noting that nothing is as attractive as a “sparkling eye,” it was reported that this look could be achieved by “dashing soapsuds into them.” Girls were told they could get the same results by putting a “half dozen drops of whiskey in each eye.” Imagine the “sparkle” they could get from pouring a pint of moonshine on their eyeballs.
Burroughs’ book also said women should:
• “Never wash their hair,” explaining that water injured the hair and noting that “the same results could be achieved by rubbing the dirt off with a towel.” Take that, Head & Shoulders.
Speaking of washing, it was also said that:
• “A woman should never wash her face.” The book relates a story about a “beautiful lady who is admired and had not washed her face for three years, yet it is always clean, rosy, sweet and kissable.” By the way, women were told they should never wash their hands, either, and reminded to wear gloves during the weekly bath.
Not all the ideas were gross, though. In fact, men might actually like one called “vapor bathing.” Burroughs’ book explains it this way:
• “The lady denudes herself, takes a seat near the window, and takes in the warm rays of the sun.” The book adds that “if you’re a lady of the restless sort, dancing is advised.”
At least women were warned that “dancing naked in the window was more likely to bring the attention of unwanted suitors.”
That last tidbit is a comforting reminder that while beauty fads come and go, some things never change.
It’s a blessing.
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