You might assume that people in the Victorian age were obedient, well-mannered, and stiff because that’s the way they’re portrayed in books, television, and movies. But the truth is, there were some odd fads in the nineteenth century that would probably make your eyes pop out. We’re talking about some really weird stuff that became pretty popular between 1837 and 1901 that will make modern fads seem absolutely tame. So, if you considered yourself a huge cynical who cannot simply be surprised, you won’t feel the same way after you take a look at this list. Our Victorian ancestors are about to prove that they were even more insanely trendy than we are today.Friend and family would dress up in odd costumes and pose for one another. This was a perfectly normal thing to do, and you can´t really blame them. They had no televisions, or even a radio to enjoy music with.
Poverty wasn’t just considered dishonorable, it was connected with filth and those lacking a moral compass, which was associated with societies unwanted at the time. But the people in poorhouses had to work for room and board and even entire families lived together.
Wealthy people got the opportunity to have a doctor come to their home to check them out. But the poor had to suck it up and find a way to make it to a hospital on their own.
Sometimes, even the rich had to go to the hospital, but a clean operating room gave you a 1 in 10 odds of dying, while an unsanitary operating room reduced your odds to 1 in 4. Of course, no one figured this out until it was too late.
These days, surgeons can’t wait to dispose of their bloody clothes after a surgery. But in the Victorian age, surgeons wore the blood on their frock coats with pride, and they didn’t seem bothered by the nauseating scent.
Surgeons were placed on the same pedestal as butchers but were somehow also seen as high class. Even the fact that they used hot irons or boiling water to cauterize a wound didn’t diminish the way they were viewed.
It’s common to hear a doctor shout, “suction,” when they need a nurse to remove blood from the surgical area so they can see. But in the olden days, they used leeches to remove blood before performing surgery.
Sadly, people had lots of kids in those days, and a lot of them died before they turned 5. So, they propped their deceased loved ones and took pictures with them. In fact, memento mori photographic portraiture was cheap and popular in the mid-1800s.
Memento mori, which means, “remember you must die,” often resulted in the living coming out slightly blurry because they would tend to move. But since the dead didn’t move, they appeared a lot sharper in the images.
They painted eyes on certain occasions, as you can see from the photo on the left to make them appear like they were still alive, while the right photo on the right can’t mask the grim reminder that this loved one has passed on.
This practice ensured that the family would get to keep their beloved loved one immortalized in a photo. In this photo, everyone, including a cat, gathered around the deceased child, who looks like he’s sleeping peacefully.
In the early 1900s, Victorians were mystified by the artifacts that were dug-up from Egyptian tombs. And since mummies were unwrapped and placed on display, Victorian people would gather around to gaze at the exhibitions and attend several lectures on Egyptology.
In Victorian times, no one placed regulations on pollution caused by factories. The run-down areas in London also caused fires, which led to coal pollution and smoke, which combined with Thames’ smog. This smog would stain clothing, so Victorian people wore black to hide any discoloration.
Women weren’t really allowed to enjoy sex, but men having intimate relations with other men was acceptable as long as it didn’t become a public spectacle. But no one knew women could be gay, so two women could live together without arousing any suspicion.
“Fasting girls” were in every newspaper and talked about women who allegedly survived without water or food. These girls pretend to not eat anything, just like in the case of Mollie Fancher, a woman who survived on air. For whatever reason, people thought this was cool.
Victorian folks were stuck on that old wives’ tale that bathing was bad for your health. The upper class only bathed a few times a month in lukewarm water with bran added to it. The lower class bathed once a year. One girl was said to have washed her hair with a cracked egg.
In those days, only prostitutes wore lots of blush and lipstick, so you would find a high-class lady wearing makeup. In those days, a judge claimed lipstick and witchcraft went hand in hand. So, women resorted to pinching their cheeks to get a nice pink glow.
In Victorian times, widows mourned for up to two years. Kids mourned the death of a parent and vice versa for a year. Grandparents and siblings got six months. Aunts and uncles got two months. For cousins, it was four weeks, and great uncles and aunts got six weeks.
In those days, doctors had discovered that some people may have been buried prematurely. This was known as Vivisepulture, or in layman’s terms, it meant that the person only appeared dead, but wasn’t too far gone to actually be dead. So the fear of waking up in a coffin was well deserved.
Victorian women would use complexion water laced with arsenic and bathed with arsenic soap and shampoo in order to look more attractive and younger. Ironically, men took arsenic pills to increase their libido, which obviously didn’t work.
Corsets were common as it helped support the bosoms, reduce their waist, and gave women the figure they wanted. The French singer and actress, Emile-Marie Bouchard, aka “Polaire,” became popular for achieving a 14-inch waist using a corset.
Once the nipple was pierced, jewelers would insert a gold “bosom ring.” In some cases, two rings were connected to a chain. Some believe that this fad grew because women believed this would make their breasts rounder and more appealing.
Women who had any sort of problem were always diagnosed with suffering from hysteria. To cure them, they found ways to get them to achieve an orgasm. In fact, the first vibrators would have never been invented if it hadn’t been for this fad.
Hydrotherapy clinics were quite popular during the Victorian age, but were only reserved for wealthy patients who had contracted tuberculosis, or were suffering from insomnia, baldness, impotence, and in women, hysteria.
Victorians were fond of offal and ate every part of their body, and we do mean everything, including the brains and hearts. Turtle soup was also all the rage, particularly the turtle’s fat, which added flavor to the soup.