It's impossible to meet the incredibly unrealistic and changing beauty standards of our world, and we've all spent way too much time trying to pluck, paint, or contour ourselves into stacking up. It may not be a surprise to learn that this is basically a timeless issue, but some of the beauty ideals of the past are really hard to imagine as fun or glamorous.
Beauty standards through history have shifted into so many forms that some of the hottest styles of the past are basically horrifying, or at least way more trouble - and danger - than they are worth. Sure, makeup is a pain, but at least we aren't shaving back our hairlines or painting our legs with gravy juice anymore. Check out this list for some of the weirdest historical beauty standards ever.
Renaissance Women Wanted Receding Hairlines
If you've ever looked at Renaissance paintings and wondered why the women seem to look so strange, it's not just you. Large, curved foreheads were an important indicator of beauty, and women would pluck or shave their hairlines to increase the size of their forehead. Basically, creating a receding hairline on purpose.
Painted Legs Were The Look During World War Two
Thanks to nylon shortages during the second World War, women's pantyhose were lacking. However, the tan appearance of stockinged legs was still considered necessary, so dozens of paint products meant to mimic the look of nylon hit the market. According to a 1942 edition of LIFE Magazine, "When they are properly applied the most scrutinizing pair of masculine eyes cannot distinguish between legs thus covered and legs in sheer hose." However, some women would just go for what was around and use gravy to paint their legs to get that stunning nylon look.
Incredibly Small Feet Were All the Rage in China
Although foot binding is perhaps one of the most infamous forms of body modification, its origins in China are unknown, though we know it was prevalent among the wives and daughters of nobles by the thirteenth century. It eventually spread until the practice was commonplace. Foot binding usually began when a girl was five to seven years old, and consisted of her feet being bandaged tightly while she was growing, causing the bones in her foot to break, the sole to bend down to meet the toes, and the toes to bend under the foot. This painful and crippling practice was based on the sexual and aesthetic appeal of small feet.
Skull Shaping Was Standard Child Rearing for the Ancient Maya
Starting around 1000 BC, the ancient Maya started modifying the skulls of their infants. A child's head was kept strapped to a board or bound with various implements, forcing the skull to become malformed. This was done to both males and females, and it is believed to not have been related to social standing, but a sign of ornamental beauty. Many other groups all over the world had similar practices, including the Germanic tribes like the Huns, Hawaiians, Tahitians, Incas, and the Chinook and Choctaw tribes in North America.