Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beauty Tips...from the 1870s

(I recently posted this on Writes of Passage, where I post every Tuesday. But thought I'd share it here too, in case you missed it!)

In researching the history behind the book I'm currently writing (Belmont Book 2, title forthcoming), I came across the most delicious book about beauty. It's entitled Personal Beauty and was originally published in 1870, and written by D. G. Brinton, M.D. and G.H. Napheys, M.D. 

As the cover claims, it's a "truly ageless Beauty Guide" with everything from (and I quote) "Arsenic-Eating (not recommended) to Wrinkles & How to Prevent Them."

Without further adieu, strap on your corset, and let's get to reading...


Pure and pearly? Are you kidding me? Ah...sorry, no. Minute red veins? Check! Guess I've been "given to excess" to Diet Dr. Pepper. Either that or to "violent fits of passion." Come to think of it, the latter sounds like much more fun. Let's go with that instead.


Ablution. Don't you love that word? And washing the hair no more than once a week. Can you say "ew?" I'll stick with my every day.


A goitre "an advantage?" Quite essential to beauty? Seriously? And just think, all these years I've tried to avoid those. 


Fatty secretions, dirty and black, grubs!? Major TMI! And "the portion of it at the aperture?" Love how they phrased things. And don't forget that glycerine!

And last, but certainly not least...


Firm and elastic, huh? True "hemispheres?" And what is this about distance? Where IS my tape measure?!! Come to think of it, there are some measurements that shouldn't be shared. Or even taken after a certain age. (Do I hear any "Amens!?")

If you're looking for an amusing but also insightful book into how physical beauty was perceived by some in the 1870s, and in how they attempted to achieve it, this is a great book. I found my reproduced copy on Amazon and what a treasure it is. Especially because the book I'm writing touches on––you guessed it––the myth and truth of beauty. 

So what's your favorite beauty tip, old or new (as long as it doesn't call for a tape measure)? Do you have a tip that your mother or grandmother passed down to you?

Off to grab some Visine for those unexpected violent fits of passion,
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