Our bodies are incredible (and incredibly precious) machines, but often we don’t treat them as such. Women may be majestic, mysterious and altogether mesmerising creatures, but somewhere along the way – perhaps even since time immemorial – it was decided that this isn’t enough. Simply put, we must not only endure, but also enjoy grievous sacrifices to look feminine and beautiful.
Whether this nonsensical ruling was made by us or for us, it seems most have signed up to a lifelong cosmetic martyrdom, and though many of our current beauty treatments are ordinarily safe and all in good fun, a select few are dangerous, disgusting and downright ridiculous. Indeed, one only has to peek into our sordid history of body alterations and facial do-overs to realise the modern-day woman will take terrible risks to reinvent herself and hold on to an outward pretty.
Prone to a little vanity myself and curious to see just how outlandish womankind is willing to get, I scoured the globe for answers. Unsurprisingly, it turns out we’re game to try almost anything! Our Western World is known for its encouragement of unnecessary image overhauls, and while there are countless – and equally unnecessary – bizarre beauty tips and body ‘oddities’ worth mentioning, I’ve condensed my list to just five. So consider this indulgent collection, my fellow purveyors of the weird and unbelievable, a ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not!’ of the cosmetic kingdom.
1. Bird Poop Facial (also known as the Geisha Facial)
For just £135, therapists at London-based Hari’s will paint your face with nightingale poop, which is believed to contain revitalising enzymes that exfoliate the skin and leave it with a healthy shine. Prior to your treatment, the droppings are carefully sanitised under ultraviolet light and then mixed with rice bran and water to hide their disagreeable smell. Though the claims seem a little dubious, some customers have reported a ‘glow’ akin to that of the geisha who is credited with first discovering the restorative properties of bird excrement some several thousand years ago.
2. Wine bath
It’s been said that Queen ‘Lady of Drunkenness’ Cleopatra often bathed in boozy beverages, and now Japan’s Yunessun Spa is offering us plebeians the same luxury. A bargain £20 will get you access to its tremendous tub of red wine all day, and with any luck, help firm your skin and reverse any sun damage done to it over the years.
3. Face Slapping
Offered by Bangkok masseuse, Tata, in her San Francisco beauty parlour, this anti-aging treatment involves 15 minutes of rigorous pinching, smoothing and ‘light’ skin slapping to cure wrinkles and shrink pores. Doubters of its efficacy are by no means small in number, and at £175 a session it sounds like it could be a real slap in the face (pardon the pun!).
4. Bee venom wrinkle cream
Advertised as the ‘safer’ version of Botox, which itself is a tamed version of one of the deadliest substances known to man, this cream contains a bee venom ingredient that promises to immediately lift and tighten facial muscles. It supposedly does this by inducing a reaction that causes the body to believe it has been stung, thereby increasing blood flow and collagen to repair the ‘damaged’ area. It’s the beauty secret of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and for a moderate £150 it can be yours too!
A growing (foolish!) number of women are turning to podiatrists and cosmetic foot surgeons for help because they are unsatisfied with their ‘fat’ toes, and some are even paying upwards of £1000 for a narrower look. Aside from being expensive, procedures are also gruesome and rather lengthy as they involve splitting each toe open to grind down the bone and fat inside.
Absurd, laughable, and more than a little troubling, it seems beauty companies the world over have taken a leaf out of a Hitchcock screenplay and run with it. Even more disconcerting, it seems our sanity – and bank accounts – are running away with them.