History Records Beauty Standards Were Once Much More Diverse

While people talk about modern beauty standards being artificial and western, it can be easy to not understand the true diversity of beauty standards across time and across history.

For instance, the ancient Maya thought being cross-eyed was highly desirable. Parents would hang an object between their infant's eyes hoping to induce permanent cross-eyes. In Iran until modern times, women were more desirable if they had unibrows and mustaches and many used darkening products to achieve them.

No matter what you look like, there was probably a time and a place when you were the height of attractiveness. Think about that the next time you look in a mirror!

Census Fun Facts

  • In 3800 BCE, the Babylonian Empire took the world’s first known census -- of farmgoods. They counted livestock and quantities of butter, honey, milk, wool, and vegetables.
  • In 2 CE, China’s Han Dynasty took the oldest surviving census data, showing a population of 57.7 million people living in 12.4 million households. Chengdu, the largest city, had a population of 282,000.
  • The first modern census in Britain in 1801 didn’t ask people to list their ages.
  • The first census in the US in 1790 only cared about age if the person was a "free white male," which was sorted by “16 years and upward” and “under 16 years.” All other categories were ageless.
  • In 1853, Chile passed the first census law in South America.
  • Britain’s attempt to take a census in India in 1871 was difficult because there were rumors that the goal of the count is to identify girls to be sent to England to fan Queen Victoria during a heatwave.

The Multiple Names of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottomans generally used two different terms when referring to their state, versus the territory the state ruled over. The state was called "Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniye" which literally translates to "the High Ottoman State." Side note: "Osman" was the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, and the English word "Ottoman" comes from his name which was sometimes translated as "Othman." The Ottomans called their territory "Memalik-i Mahruse," or "The Protected Lands." The two terms are sometimes more poetically translated to "the Sublime Ottoman State" or "the Sublime State" and "the Well-Protected Domains."

Germany’s Day of Fate

November 9th is a momentous day to Germans. Many major events in German history occurred on that day: Robert Blum's death in 1848, Kaiser Wilhelm's abdication in 1918, Einstein's Nobel Prize win in 1922, the failed Munich Putsch/Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Kristallnacht in 1938, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Since shortly after World War II, November 9th was nicknamed Schicksalstag ("Day of Fate") by some media members. But its current widespread use in Germany started after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"Kaiunbashi Bridge (First National Bank in Snow)" by Kobayashi Kiyochika. It comes from a series of prints "Pictures of Famous Places in Tokyo" (1876–81) where the artist focused on how light, from the new technologies that were being introduced, were transforming Tokyo. The Meiji Restoration had just occurred and industrialization and westernization being rushed in by the new government. The artist’s presentations of dawn, dusk, and night evoked a pensive mood suggesting a personal uncertainty in a moment of major societal change.

The Princess Who Swallowed A Piano

The daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Princess Alexandra Amelie was the only one of her nine siblings who never married. Her father put off would-be suitors by claiming she was in fragile health. But her health wasn’t the only thing fragile about Alexandra. At age 23, the pretty, dark-haired princess was found walking slowly, carefully, bow-leggedly down the corridors of the royal palace. When questioned by her worried parents, she claimed that as a little girl she had swallowed a full-size glass grand piano. The princess was worried that if she bumped into something, the piano inside her would shatter and leave her in bloody shreds.

Besides developing the glass delusion in her early twenties, the princess had a number of other eccentricities that would have been considered symptoms were she not a royal. She had an obsession with cleanliness, and wore only white. In the 1850s, Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte (son of Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Lucien) asked King Ludwig for Alexandra's hand in marriage, but he was divorced from his wife, but Ludwig refused citing Alexandra's "delicate health."

Alexandra Amelie eventually was appointed abbess of the Royal Chapter for Ladies of Saint Anne in Munich and Würzburg. It was a religious community specifically for noble ladies. She became a writer and published original pieces in German as well as translations of French literature. The princess died at 49

Quote taken from Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories From History-- Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie. Alexandra Amalie lived from 1826 to 1875, and lived eventually as an abbess.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • >
  • Leave us a message

    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

    Website design and coding by the Amalgama

    About us X