People nowadays will do anything to look beautiful (or at least, to not look ugly) — from Botox to tanning salons to breast implants — but this fascination with looks isn’t a new phenomenon. As these devices show, our forefathers had some strange misconceptions about what could improve their appearance.
10) Flesh Roller (1931)
No doubt the same sort of medical research that led the makers of this machine, comprised of a series of cylindrical rollers, to proclaim that it can literally roll “excess flesh” into one’s body led to the belief that you can work out while puffing on a cigarette.
9) Electric Massage (1932)
Do-it-yourselfers could put together this facial “massaging device” using four or five batteries connected by wires to two silver spoons. Shocking? You bet! The instructions stated to wrap the handles in tape to avoid sending an electrical current through your hands, but apparently jolting your face was just fine.
8) Freckle-proof Cape (1940)
Is it a ghost with measles? A racist leopard? No, it’s an oh-so-stylish spotted cape and hood ensemble that supposedly prevented freckles from forming due to exposure to the sun. Florida: on the cutting edge since 1940.
7) Fake Beard (1968)
It’s a toupee…for your face! The possibilites are endless! Try wearing the sideburns as a mustache, the mustache as eyebrows and the Van Dyke as a merkin.
6) Glamour Bonnet (1941)
Like something Dr. Kevorkian would endorse, this device, designed to improve skin complexion, involved putting a plastic bag over your head and sucking the air out of it with a vacuum hose. Now with 50% less chance of asphyxiation!
5) Fake Calves (1953)
Back when buxom calves were the bees’ knees, women could buy these “leg falsies” to plump up their gams. Tree trunk legs didn’t come easy, though; not only did you have to stand and let a cast be made of your leg, but you also had to buy special rubber and nylon stockings to keep the calves in place. Ironically, after walking around for days with these inserts strapped to your legs, your calves presumably would end up bulging on their own.
4) Dimple Machine (1936)
Dimples weren’t just for Shirley Temple back in the ’30s. You could (theoretically) make your own dimples with this device, a metallic spring with knobs that jab into your cheeks to form little craters. Doesn’t sound excruciating at all.
3) Cream Stockings (1938)
Ladies, are you tired of pulling on those tight stockings? Are you sick of getting runs in your pantyhose? Are you craving to jam yet another makeup item in your purse? Well, you’re in luck! Here’s a cream that you can apply to your legs that give the illusion of wearing hose! *Presumably incompatible with leg falsies.
2) Face Harness (1933)
Women were encouraged to wear this Hannibal Lecter mask while sleeping so that the pressure it placed on the chin, lips, cheeks and forehead would smooth out wrinkles. Or smother you in your sleep. Either way, you don’t have to worry about wrinkles ever again!
1) X-Ray Shave (1924)
If the thought of a bikini wax on your face isn’t scary enough, how about following it up with a blast of x-ray radiation to make sure your beard doesn’t even think about growing back…ever?