We all live in a society where people have to look in a certain way that deems them beautiful. Or to simply say it, we all have certain beauty standards or expectations of what people should look like. The most apt example for this would be the obsession with fair skin. Or, say having the perfect body. Moreover, women are most of the times, the victims of these unrealistic beauty practices. There are some strange and weird beauty standards around the world that are unimaginable and are still in practice. Therefore, let’s see some of the weirdest beauty standards in the world.
1. LOTUS FEET
It is one of the weirdest yet painful beauty standards that existed in China and also in some other parts of the world. Lotus Feet is literally the practice of binding feet and wrapping a girl’s feet in cotton strips to prevent their growth. The belief here is that the smaller the feet of the woman, the more are her chances to marry into a noble family. Girls with Lotus Feet are more sexually pleasing than girls without them.
The Chinese Foot Binding practice was a sign of sophistication. A woman having tiny feet was the epitome of eroticism and hence beautiful. The practice is extremely painful and usually starts when a girl is between 2 and 9 years of age. Firstly, it involves soaking the girl’s feet in a mixture of animal blood to make the feet soft. Then, the toenails are cut to prevent any sort of infection. After that, foot binder twists the toes downwards that results in the shattering of bones. Finally, it involves wrapping the broken toes in cotton strips, preventing them from completely healing. This process is repeated every few weeks so that the feet are as small as possible.
This practice of foot binding had it’s own dangerous health risks. It led to various infections such as gangrene and sepsis. The ideal Lotus Feet measuring about 4 inches was more desirable by men. Women having this ideal foot size were a symbol of nobility and status. Hence, they had greater opportunities to marry men from noble and rich families.
Teeth whitening is a normal and increasingly popular procedure. But, imagine having black teeth or dyeing your teeth black to look beautiful! Shocking, right? This is yet another shocking beauty standards in Japan. That’s exactly, what the weird and strange practice of Ohaguro is all about. It is the process of blackening teeth and is an aristocratic sign of beauty in Japan. The process involves applying dangerous chemicals to a child’s teeth to blacken it. However, this process leads to allergic reactions afterwards.
In Japan, ‘black teeth’ was a symbol of status. The chemicals used for dyeing is a mixture called “Kanemizu” in Japan. Kanemizu is a mixture of iron filings, vinegar, tea and rice wine. This mixture creates a blackening effect on teeth. Moreover, it had an awful smell and requires frequent applications. Women belonging to the Japanese aristocratic families practiced this tradition. The fashion at that time for women was to paint their faces white and have black teeth! However, the practice of Ohaguro doesn’t exist other than in movies, plays or during Japanese traditional festivals.
3. WEARING CORSETS
In the 19th century Victorian England, a 14 inch waist was more desirable as compared to a normal waist size. This weird beauty tradition of wearing tight corsets made women breathless. These stylish corsets made of lace rather than reducing the waist size were a means of injury. It restricted breathing, caused muscle atrophy, deformed rib cage and even misalignment of the spine.
Moreover, the ‘ Harness Magnetic Corsets’ that promised women to give them an elegant figure displaced their ribs. Also, the procedure of the ‘cosmetic rib surgery’ was famous among women to achieve this weird obsession with thin waists. To say it more simply, women underwent surgery to remove their ribs to get the desired waist size! Another important information is that this rib removal surgery exists even today.
4. BRASS NECKS
This weird beauty tradition is still popular and still practiced by the tribal communities of Thailand and Burma. This neck elongation process is famously practiced by the KayanLahwi Tribe. According to the belief among this tribe, the longer the neck of the woman, the more attractive she is. From a very young age, girls have to wear these metal coils around their necks. These metal coils give an illusion of long, stretched and elongated neck.
Women who wear these rings of metal coils are also called the “Giraffe women”. They are not allowed to remove these coils even when they are sleeping. The coils around their necks are actually made from brass or gold alloy. For them, long necks are a symbol of wealth, position and beauty. However, having this long neck is just an optical illusion. It looks like they have long necks, but they only painfully compress their collar bones and their shoulders. It is impossible for these women to lean their head back, hence, they drink water from straws!
There are many stories surrounding the neck rings. According to one legend, these neck rings were a sort of protection for women from a tiger’s attack. Another legend suggests that these neck rings protected women from being slaves of other tribes, as these coils made them less attractive. However, as per another legend, these coils give women the resemblance of a dragon. The dragon is an important figure in the Kayan Folklore and hence people associate this weird tradition with beauty.
This weird beauty tradition of scarification is particularly popular in Africa. It is still in practice among the Karo tribe in Ethiopia and South Sudan’s nomadic Dinka. It refers to the practice of marking the skin with a knife to create patterns or symbolic marks that represent their tribe. The Dinka scar the faces of teenage boys and girls as an important rite of passage. Girls have beautiful patterns over their whole body, whereas boys have patterns of 3 parallel lines. These parallel lines represent their entry in manhood. The most horrible part of this weird tradition is that young boys or girls cannot cry or even flinch during their own scarification. Because crying or flinching will bring shame to their whole family and community.
This process usually involves scarring achieved by cutting the skin with the help of sharp objects like a knife or even glass! It also involves opening the skin, applying plant juices and dark pigments like charcoal or even gunpowder. However, this process of painful scarification is a form of art and also a type of body decoration. Moreover, the Karo women claim that they undergo this painful procedure to attract men.
6. DIMPLE-MAKING MACHINE
One of the worst inventions created by a woman to torture women! Mrs. Evangeline Isabella Gilbert of Rochester in New York invented this weird device as an easy means for women to get dimples. This machine is worn over the cheeks and has wires that can actually dent the face. Unfortunately, this dimple making machine did not last long as women found it difficult to wear them. Can you actually imagine how uncomfortable this must have been!
7. LIP DISKS OR PLATES
This is one of the weirdest and most strange beauty standards practiced in the world. It is a bizarre body modification practiced by the tribal women of Mursi belonging to Ethiopia. This practice of lip stretching is also common among women belonging to the regions of African and South American communities. Girls wear these weird accessories from a young age and it is also a symbol of girls entering womanhood. They begin this horrific procedure of lip stretching when a girl turns 13. It is their strange belief that the size of a dinner plate fits best for this procedure.
It is a painful and awful practice, but it evolves girls into a women. Lip plates are worn by women in effort to appear more beautiful and desirable for men looking for a bride. The process begins when a girl reaches puberty. It involves stretching the lower lip by inserting a plate and then gradually increasing the size of the plate, until the woman can insert a full-size symbolic lip plate. Women decorate this lip plates to show their skills and their creative side. Moreover, it is also an expression of their personality.
However, the most interesting fact is that even this procedure of lip stretching is hierarchical in nature. If a woman wants to catch the attention of the most powerful and handsome man in the village, then she should be able to accommodate the biggest plate! Therefore, we can come to a conclusion that women undergo this strange and barbaric procedure only to get potential husbands.
8. ARSENIC POISONING
The obsession for fair and glowing skin has landed women in extreme situations. And one of those weird beauty standards is consuming the poison arsenic to give the desired glow and for a “blooming complexion and brilliant eye”. This weird procedure of torturing lead to diarrhoea, convulsions, hair loss and, most importantly, also the main cause of death. Moreover, even if the woman did not die from arsenic poisoning, she would definitely die if she stopped consuming arsenic!
9. USING LEAD FOR A MATTE-FINISH LOOK
During the 16th and the 17th century abundance of diseases like small pox led to blemishes and scars on the skin. Therefore to cover up these blemishes and also being a cheap alternative, lead powder came to the rescue. It was not only easy to make and affordable but also gave a silky matte finish look. However, its prolonged use led to brain swelling, paralysis and multiple organ failure.
1O. EATING TAPEWORM
Last but not the least, the benefits of eating the tapeworm diet aided in weight reduction and staying slim. After the intake of the tapeworm in the pill form, the person dieting has to excrete it from their body in order to get the desired weight. It led to serious abdominal issues and also was the main cause of meningitis, epilepsy and even dementia. This is one of the strangest and weird beauty traditions practiced by people to stay lean rather than exercising and controlling their diet.