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6 odd and often painful beauty trends through the ages

Published on 09 August 2018|
2 min read

All in the name of beauty.
By Louise M, Carrybeans

We have heard this all too often that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. What one person finds beautiful may not be so to another. But when people go to the extreme to change how they look, we can’t help but wonder what kind of beauty are they really trying to achieve?

Throughout history, people – especially women – have sometimes put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of looking beautiful. Let’s see which of these so-called beauty trends are still considered a trend today.

From a chiselled-tooth smile to painful foot binding

1. Teeth chiselling

Credit: Iyakan

The tradition of teeth chiselling is carried out by the Mentawai tribe women of Siberut Island, Indonesia. Apparently, they go through this ritual in order to maintain a balance between the body and the soul. But what makes this even more terrifying is that the chiselling process is done without any use of anaesthetics.

2. Blackened teeth

Credit: Entrenos Digital

Ohaguro is the custom of dyeing one’s teeth black. Banned in the year 1870, it was commonly practised in Japan amongst married women, unmarried women over 18 years old, prostitutes, and geishas. Apart from being a statement of beauty, it also strengthened the teeth and protected the person from dental problems such as cavities.

3. Skull elongation

Credit: Rare Historical Photos

In northeastern Congo of Central Africa, the Mangbetu people’s custom of skull elongation was a status symbol among their ruling classes. They tightly wrapped the head of babies a month after birth and continued until the desired shape was reached or the child rejected the apparatus. The Mangbetu continued the practice up into the 1960s as a mark of beauty and social status.

4. Lip plate

Credit: Alternative Looks

The Surma people in Southern Ethiopia have a strange yet fascinating practice that determines the whole value of the attraction of a woman. The unique idea around the lip plate is that it increases one’s self-esteem. To them, a woman’s beauty depends on how large their lip plate is. The bigger the plate, the more the girl is valued and perceived to be beautiful.

5. Neck rings

Credit: Vicinito

Thailand’s Kayan long neck hill tribe’s girls and women (also known as giraffe women) wear brass coil around their neck supposedly as a sign of beauty and wealth. They start wearing the brass coil from the age of five and more are added as they get older. The brass pushes the collarbone down to compress the rib cage, giving the impression that their neck is long and stretched.

6. Foot binding

Credit: Smithsonian Mag

Having feet no longer than four inches in length was once considered attractive and fashionable in China.  Millions of Chinese women used to break their toes, later bending and tightly binding them in order to give themselves “lotus feet”. However, seeing their bare feet was often for their eyes only as they were reluctant to show them to anyone –  even their own husbands.

Beauty is only skin deep. What we see on the outside does not always portray what is on the inside. So, how far would you go to make yourself look beautiful?

Featured Image Credit: Pinterest

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