In her article ‘Beauty and Body Modification’, Martin Donohoe gives numerous examples throughout history of unrealistic ideas of beauty. These include the following:
- In ancient China, the 4-inch "lotus foot" was considered a sign of perfect beauty, leading to the barbaric practice of foot-binding.
- Women in ancient Egypt, Rome and Persia used applied the heavy metal to make their eyes sparkle since this was considered attractive.
- In Elizabethan times a woman with a high forehead was considered beautiful and so women plucked or shaved their frontal hairs to achieve this look.
- During the 18th century, vermilion rouge, concocted of sulphur and mercury, was popular for improving a woman’s appearance. Women knowingly embraced this even though they knew it resulted in lost teeth and gingivitis.
- From the 14th to 19th centuries, corseting was a popular practice. It involved compressing the bosom and constricting the waist with tightly wound whalebone on a steel frame. This led to difficulty in breathing which caused many women to faint.
I am told the average woman today devote around 19 minutes per day altering her face. And let’s not forget the whole body modification and tattoo industry.