People will do almost anything to look and feel young and attractive which is why the beauty industry is thriving. And it doesn’t matter if the trends are incredibly strange, as long as others are following them—you’re likely to jump on the bandwagon. However, when you look back in history, there have been some very weird beauty practices in the past that have left us puzzled. Suntan vending machines and using a literal iron to iron hair are just the tip of the beauty iceberg.

Bored Panda has collected some of the best vintage photos of women doing very peculiar things, all in the name of beauty. So scroll on down, upvote your fave photos, and let us know which of these activities you personally thought were the most bizarre, dear Pandas. Oh, and be sure to let us know which modern beauty practices you think are objectively weird! According to Forbes, the global beauty industry is worth 532 billion dollars. The US is the world’s largest beauty market with around a fifth of the share. While China is in second place and Japan is in third place.

To learn more about the history of beauty and the beauty industry, Bored Panda reached out to Dr. Jane Nicholas from St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo. According to Dr. Nicholas, the global beauty industry has grown “substantially” over the 20th century. “Its expansion reveals the importance of beauty in people’s lives as it shapes their identities, especially in regard to gender.”

#1

A Full-Faced Swimming Mask Helped Protect Women’s Skin From The Sun, 1920s

A Full-Faced Swimming Mask Helped Protect Women’s Skin From The Sun, 1920s

Hulton Archive Report

itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

mom pick me up im scared

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#2

A Woman Having A Seam Painted Onto Her Leg, To Make It Appear That She Is Wearing Stockings, 1926

A Woman Having A Seam Painted Onto Her Leg, To Make It Appear That She Is Wearing Stockings, 1926

Fox Photos Report

itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

...no comment

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#3

Rita Perchetti And Gloria Rossi Try Out Their New Portable Bathhouse So They Can Change Their Clothes After Sunbathing On Coney Island Beach, 1938

Rita Perchetti And Gloria Rossi Try Out Their New Portable Bathhouse So They Can Change Their Clothes After Sunbathing On Coney Island Beach, 1938

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Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

Your own portable changing room. LOL

Ben Smith
Community Member
4 months ago

Yep. That’s what the picture is. Gold star.

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Softsquatch
Community Member
4 months ago

i don't understand why stuff like this doesn't exist anymore. Is everyone just fine with getting their foof out on the beach now?

Zenozenobee
Community Member
4 months ago

It still exists, I had one when I was a teen (I'm 37) : just a large piece of towel fabric sewn in a tube form, with an elastic at the top to just let your head out.

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Tiny Dynamine
Community Member
4 months ago

Little did the spectators know, but the women would emerge with six legs and claws.

Pine
Community Member
4 months ago

The giant enemy spider

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Bellatrix Lestrange
Community Member
4 months ago

Not a bad idea but I just use a towel.

cassiushumanmother
Community Member
4 months ago

i had one exactly like that, a large towel tube with an elastic on top, really great to change at a windy beach after a windsurf session, i loved it.

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Navy Blue Bandana
Community Member
4 months ago

Is it weird that I really want one?

Linda Williams
Community Member
4 months ago

No 😁

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Romenriel
Community Member
4 months ago

I need this!

Rainbow Panda
Community Member
4 months ago

This is cool. 😎

BusLady
Community Member
4 months ago

Why are people staring at us, Rita? I don't know, Gloria. Beats me.

Brenda Couvee
Community Member
4 months ago

That's actually not a terrible idea.

RaroaRaroa
Community Member
4 months ago

In theory, but I can imagine clothes going on backward and inside-out when you're trying to do it sight-unseen inside a confined space.

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Mary Peace
Community Member
4 months ago

I have seen people using something very similar, quite recently. It isn't that strange. I don't quite see the connection with 'beauty', though.

Nicole Tomme
Community Member
4 months ago

I want to see people chasing each other around in these to the tune of yackety sax. I also think I just found my Halloween costume.

ᴍɪᴋᴀꜱᴀ ᴀᴄᴋᴇʀᴍᴀɴ
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

-Yeah every time when I wanna change my clothing, I have to use a towel(Which Doesn't Cover me changing) But This is not a bad Invention, Yet I would use it out of the sand cuz your feet brings sand, and well you know what I mean >w< Lmao!!-

Draga Millani
Community Member
4 months ago

I mean, it's not a terrible idea.

allie
Community Member
4 months ago

Good idea.

Lynn Greyling
Community Member
4 months ago

clever, a caftan also works

Libby Becker
Community Member
4 months ago

It’s a great idea!

jocelyn annette harris
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Look at the boys watching them just like :0

Maureen Peters
Community Member
4 months ago

Nice invention!

Renae Weidman
Community Member
4 months ago

I think this was a clever idea. Money was hard to come by and renting a cabana was likely a luxury.

Laura Perkinson
Community Member
4 months ago

This had to be hard no matter how big it was

Jackie Butts
Community Member
4 months ago

With all the fitting rooms at the stores closed, we need these now.

Karen Crosby
Community Member
4 months ago

The original tent dress!

Louise Stange-Wahl
Community Member
4 months ago

They actually have these updated and selling today!

Toni
Community Member
4 months ago

i think those are brilliant! .. the "wrap the towel around my body and with every slight change of position it falls down and exposes my flabby body" thing was not the best option... :)

LindyForeverHope
Community Member
4 months ago

the look on the people's face....

Panda with Heart
Community Member
4 months ago

This I love!!

Becca Gizmo the Squirrel
Community Member
4 months ago

Around the 1920 they had these small changing rooms (think out houses on carriage wheels) that women would have towed out about waist deep into the ocean. The put their swimsuits on in it and walked out into the water and swam behind it so no one could see them. Maybe around 1900 instead.

BusLady
Community Member
4 months ago

I see the older lady judging. "These kids nowadays."

Lynn Gold
Community Member
4 months ago

If you don't have access to a changing room, why not?

Sasha Kuleshov
Community Member
4 months ago

And then we invented the tarp! :D

D. Pitbull
Community Member
4 months ago

There is something similar sold today... called... a Chawel!!! (Changing Towel) - it's not a bad idea, really... it's essentially a towel full-body poncho... and yeah... after water sports and the changing rooms and bathrooms are either disgusting or full - you can still change. they're pretty great.

Kevin Camp
Community Member
4 months ago

These are used today when doing wardrobe changes in public at photoshoots.

Tenley Samson
Community Member
4 months ago

that would acctully be useful

Ploploplop
Community Member
4 months ago

I like this idea.

Delilah Boyd
Community Member
4 months ago

Saw this on a Charlie Chaplen movie. 😆

Lola
Community Member
4 months ago

This is actually a pretty good idea. Changing in the car has resulted in many injuries for myself. 😂

Marcia Cash
Community Member
4 months ago

My grandmother taught me the art of changing clothes while wearing a nightgown.

CatWoman312
Community Member
4 months ago

Interesting

Louloubelle
Community Member
4 months ago

We would just hold a large beach towel up in front of our friend so they could change, then they would do it for you.

pansexualandproud
Community Member
4 months ago

the guy in the background behind the blondie has a face like "wut"

Kori Peek
Community Member
4 months ago

The peoples expressions in the background have me laughing- "why are they putting on a circus tent?"

Sarina Greenhaven
Community Member
4 months ago

Everyone is so judging them like "What the hell?"

Lorelai Purvis
Community Member
1 week ago

how do you put things on in that

AliceInWonderland?
Community Member
1 month ago

I mean I kinda want one but I would probably be so scared of a gust of wind or something I'd do it in a bathroom stall

LotusWolff
Community Member
1 month ago

for a sec i thought they were bottles with human shaped heads until i read the caption

Magdalena Szejna
Community Member
3 months ago

this is cool! I want one!

niKols Viden
Community Member
3 months ago

Is that their shower curtain?

Jenifer Shields
Community Member
4 months ago

Not that clever...no way to get something over your head. You could only pull something up onto your torso. And you can't see what you're doing!

Kevin Mullane
Community Member
4 months ago

The dress may end up back to front.

Vicki Perizzolo
Community Member
4 months ago

those would be handy now!

William Mahoney
Community Member
4 months ago

We would just use a beach towel .

Evangeline Valhalla
Community Member
4 months ago

Good idea but why make it look like a circus tent?

Donald Holder
Community Member
4 months ago

Would be hugely over teaching today. The bikinis these girls wear covers less than the clothes they're changing into. You're showed 99%. What's the use of covering the windows when you've already shown the carpets.

Zelda Jones
Community Member
4 months ago

Bahahaha

Quazmodic
Community Member
4 months ago

Daleks.

Quazmodic
Community Member
4 months ago

This comment has been deleted.

Todd Hollfelder
Community Member
4 months ago

Nobody can tell me this wasn't a brilliant invention.

Cathryn Cade
Community Member
4 months ago

Looks very Seussian

Tugg Ster
Community Member
4 months ago

Brilliant! 👍🏻

Gilda Farrell
Community Member
4 months ago

So, what's wrong with that? How many people want to change their clothes in full view of everyone else? They have change rooms now. Is that progress?

Kim Bush
Community Member
4 months ago

Would be perfect for this year

Layla Corman
Community Member
4 months ago

Why aren't these a thing now?! Honestly?

Mewton’s Third Paw
Community Member
4 months ago

Seems so extra. Just change your clothes if you want to. That tiny triangle of fabric covering our nipples isn’t leaving more to the imagination than just getting naked. This is silly and prudish.

Ella Harley
Community Member
4 months ago

I want one of those

Patty Leaton
Community Member
4 months ago

so obvious stupid

Pansexual (In theory)
Community Member
4 months ago

That's actually kinda cool-

janice deane
Community Member
4 months ago

I wouldn't mind one of those - kid-sized! Going into a gross, sandy bathroom to have my daughter change is such a pain!

Jasmina Pavlovic
Community Member
4 months ago

Cool .. 😘

Hufflepuff
Community Member
4 months ago

This is actually smart

rycbar123
Community Member
4 months ago

you know, thats not such a bad ideal

Ashgirl
Community Member
4 months ago

Huh. that's actually kinda cool

James Pointer
Community Member
4 months ago

I love how the lad's are still hoping to see abit of side boob action

Forty Seven Pandas
Community Member
4 months ago

This is pretty clever though. Not really about preserving beauty.

23AClark
Community Member
4 months ago

Okay.

Hotrobot
Community Member
4 months ago

Lol would not hate this today

Avery S Alberico
Community Member
4 months ago

It's like at the circus

Seabeast
Community Member
4 months ago

That would be useful for the transition zones in triathlons. Why do the bike leg in soaking wet shorts when you could put on dry ones without mooning the volunteers?

Val C
Community Member
4 months ago

See ShowerToga.com This is a recent product shown on Shark Tank. Mark Cuban bought into it.

Julio Cumana
Community Member
4 months ago

Can't event fart without turning into a ballon

Brett Layton
Community Member
4 months ago

actually saw the same thing on Shark Tank a few years ago for the Ironman / Triatholon crowd I think its called Shower Toga or something like that.

Molly Block
Community Member
4 months ago

The boys are STILL watching tho.

Your Local Lizard
Community Member
4 months ago

Oh my gawd i would love this i need it!

MellonCollie
Community Member
4 months ago

Super handy! I'd like to have one of those :-)

Community Member
4 months ago

Looks easy to trip while inside

itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

okay then

James F. Wilson Jr.
Community Member
4 months ago

I could be under there "Helping" her and no one would be the wiser.

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Dr. Nicholas explained to Bored Panda that modern culture is a visual culture. Meanwhile, modern living meant finding yourself in an increasingly-dense but anonymous city. And that means that appearance becomes more important than ever. After all, when you’re a stranger to someone, they judge you by your appearance.

“So how one appears is often presumed to be who one is. Historically, the rise of the modern city was seen as the place of quick judgments on appearances in places that were crowded but also built for observation. Evaluation by one’s appearance, then, took on new importance. This has only intensified,” the history expert explained.

#4

10th Century Chinese Tradition - Foot Binding

10th Century Chinese Tradition - Foot Binding

Jo Farrell / Living History Project Report

Desiré Yen
Community Member
4 months ago

I'm Chinese and my late gran did this to her feet. The pain she must have endured just to have "pretty" small feet. 😔

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#5

Faceless Beauty Contest In Cliftonville, 1936

Faceless Beauty Contest In Cliftonville, 1936

Austrian Archives Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

But, why?

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#6

"Ironing" Hair, 1964

"Ironing" Hair, 1964

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Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

Women are still doing it today. Those with frizzy hair flatten it with a hair-straightening appliance.

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She pointed out that beauty is (at the same time) deeply personal, as well as culturally driven. That means that the beauty industry is relational to the consumer.

“It provides products and images for consumption and how consumers take those up largely determine its success. Beauty products and practices have to resonate with consumers, who are not simply dupes but often thoughtful and measured in what they want and can consume,” Dr. Nicholas said.

“Gaps in services and products lead to further innovation. Throughout the twentieth century, for example, women of color struggled to be appropriately represented and struggled to find appropriate products. In multiple ways, the industry was forced to grow and expand to respond properly to their needs. Black entrepreneurs often led the way,” she said.

#7

Before The Invention Of Sun-Screen In The Mid 1940s, Bathers Wore Garments Like This Freckleproof Cape To Protect Themselves From The Sun. The Cape Also Features Built-In Sunglasses

Before The Invention Of Sun-Screen In The Mid 1940s, Bathers Wore Garments Like This Freckleproof Cape To Protect Themselves From The Sun. The Cape Also Features Built-In Sunglasses

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

Lol

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#8

French Breast Washer, 1930s

French Breast Washer, 1930s

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Helen Haley
Community Member
4 months ago

Why?

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#9

Portable Hair Dryer, 1940s

Portable Hair Dryer, 1940s

Easyart/PA Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

She have beautiful face, must say

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It’s no surprise that some vintage beauty procedures, treatments, and practices seem strange to us now. “When dislocated from their context, what was typical in one time period seems strange in another. Today, we see the highly filtered, fully made up selfie as quite ordinary. When you pause to consider it though, it is interesting to think about how those reflect changes in technology (both digital and in cosmetics), as well as in dominant presumptions of what is considered beautiful. It can also be reflective of the democratization of techniques in lighting and makeup application that were historically reserved for insiders within modeling. Now, anyone can use them.”

Dr. Nicholas said that beauty is deeply interwoven with the wider social and cultural context. That means that it reflects more than just beauty itself. “Using X-rays for hair removal, for example, also reflects the fact that technology emerges before the full impact of its use is known,” she gave an example.

The history expert also told Bored Panda that we can expect some of the practices that we take for granted today to seem outdated and peculiar in the decades to come. “It’s quite ordinary today to inject a form of botulism into your face or to dress in the skin of another animal. Over time, though, as our collective beliefs and values change, these ordinary acts might come to be seen as extraordinary.”

#10

Tape Worm Diet, 1900s

Tape Worm Diet, 1900s

Unknown Report

Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

I will say that this is worse than having leeches suck your blood in the hopes of improving blood flow. Tape worms can attach themselves to other internal organs and other parts of the body. If they want to leave a body, they will exit where they please. It is not a pretty sight. The damage can also be quite extensive.

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#11

Freckle Removal. A Complicated Apparatus Is Employed. Eyes Are Covered With A Special, Air-Tight Piece, And The Nostrils Filled In. Breathing Is Done Through A Special Tube. Sensitive Parts Of The Face Must Be Treated Separately, 1930

Freckle Removal. A Complicated Apparatus Is Employed. Eyes Are Covered With A Special, Air-Tight Piece, And The Nostrils Filled In. Breathing Is Done Through A Special Tube. Sensitive Parts Of The Face Must Be Treated Separately, 1930

Mansell Report

Helen Haley
Community Member
4 months ago

Imagine getting rid of something as lovely as freckles.

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#12

A Perm In Germany In 1929

A Perm In Germany In 1929

Everett Collection Report

Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

Why not look like the bride of Frankenstein's monster?

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What I find the weirdest, personally, is the size of the hairdryers in the past. They’re absolutely humongous and they look like something straight out of a sci-fi flick.

The very first hairdryer was invented in 1890 by French stylist Alexander Godefroy. His seated version had a bonnet that attached to none other than the chimney pipe of a gas stove. You read that right, dear Pandas! Imagine going to a beauty salon and being told to put one of those stove-connected bonnets on your head.

We got the very first handheld hairdryers around 1920 due to technological innovations at the time. However, these were nothing like our modern-day equivalent: they weighed around 2 pounds (that’s 0.9 kilograms) and were very difficult to use. They were also prone to overheating and electrocuted people from time to time.

#13

A Policeman Judges An Ankle Competition At Hounslow, London, 1930

A Policeman Judges An Ankle Competition At Hounslow, London, 1930

Prismatic Pictures Report

Capelli rosa e patate
Community Member
4 months ago

“Yes these are the winning pair of ankles; congrats little lady. NOW COVER THOSE YOU LOOK LIKE A WHORE”

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#14

Max Factor's 1931 Ice Mask

Max Factor's 1931 Ice Mask

International News Soundphoto Report

Steve Barnett
Community Member
4 months ago

'Human test results of W***y Wonker’s Everlasting Gobstopper proved disastrous'

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#15

Woman Tans Using A Suntan Vending Machine, 1949

Woman Tans Using A Suntan Vending Machine, 1949

ahtisham-ahmed Report

Tiny Dynamine
Community Member
4 months ago

I suppose a blow torch is going to have a similar effect.

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Before you rush to poke fun at these vintage beauty practices, keep in mind two things. First of all, even if something is trendy, far from every person follows the newly-minted flavor of the month beauty techniques.

Second of all, if you think that we’ve ‘advanced’ much beyond silliness, turn on the TV and flip to an infomercial channel! The things you’ll see there are just as weird (and maybe even weirder).

#16

Contestants In The Miss Lovely Eyes Beauty Pageant In Florida Wearing Masks To Obscure The Rest Of Their Faces, 1930

Contestants In The Miss Lovely Eyes Beauty Pageant In Florida Wearing Masks To Obscure The Rest Of Their Faces, 1930

FPG Report

Some Cool Guy
Community Member
4 months ago

creepy

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See Also on Bored Panda
#17

Customers Have Their Legs Painted At A Store In Croydon, London, 1941

Customers Have Their Legs Painted At A Store In Croydon, London, 1941

G W HALES Report

Adam C
Community Member
4 months ago

Was stocking back in the days really that uncomfortable?

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#18

A Traditional Japanese Sign Of Beauty- Black Teeth, 17th – 19th Centuries

A Traditional Japanese Sign Of Beauty- Black Teeth, 17th – 19th Centuries

Pierre Dieulefils Report

Laugh or not
Community Member
4 months ago

Women used to put a white powder on their faces (made with rice, not lead) and that would make the teeth look yellow. So they dyed them black instead.

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#19

X-Ray Of Female Torso With Corset (Left) And Female Torso Without A Corset (Right), 1908

X-Ray Of Female Torso With Corset (Left) And Female Torso Without A Corset (Right), 1908

nyamcenterforhistory.org Report

Helen Haley
Community Member
4 months ago

Who needs to breathe, right?

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#20

Hair Dryer, 1920s

Hair Dryer, 1920s

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

I would be afraid to stand in front of that

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#21

Wooden Swimsuits, 1929

Wooden Swimsuits, 1929

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itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

but why?

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#22

Rubber Beauty Masks Used To Get Rid Of Wrinkles In The 1920s

Rubber Beauty Masks Used To Get Rid Of Wrinkles In The 1920s

Wellcome Collection Report

ML
Community Member
4 months ago

Still present today. Look up gimp mask :D

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#23

A Fruit Mask From The 1930s

A Fruit Mask From The 1930s

vintage.everyday Report

itz kimora
Community Member
4 months ago

nom nom

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#24

The Bra Claimed To Develop And Strengthen The Bust And Was Designed To Vibrate While The Person Wearing It Was At Work. Brussel, 1971

The Bra Claimed To Develop And Strengthen The Bust And Was Designed To Vibrate While The Person Wearing It Was At Work. Brussel, 1971

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Helen Haley
Community Member
4 months ago

What exactly in a breast was it strengthening?

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#25

You Have A Beautiful Face But Your Nose?

You Have A Beautiful Face But Your Nose?

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Raine Soo
Community Member
4 months ago

Ah, the days before rhinoplasty...

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#26

Dimple Machine In 1936

Dimple Machine In 1936

Unknown Report

ML
Community Member
4 months ago

Only temporary solution. Hope it didn't damage your muscles to be permanent.

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#27

Women Who Had Just Given Birth To A Baby Weren't Prohibited To Smoke In The Hospital. 1940s Ad

Women Who Had Just Given Birth To A Baby Weren't Prohibited To Smoke In The Hospital. 1940s Ad

Unknown Report

Downunderdude
Community Member
4 months ago

Here, kid. Have a passive.

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#28

Facial Warming Mask, 1940

Facial Warming Mask, 1940

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Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago

This is a joke, I'm sure

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#29

A Young Woman Holds Her Arms And Legs In Four Water Bathes With Electric Current, To Improve Blood Circulation, Circa 1938

A Young Woman Holds Her Arms And Legs In Four Water Bathes With Electric Current, To Improve Blood Circulation, Circa 1938

vintage.everyday Report

Isabella R.W.
Community Member
4 months ago

Ouch

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#30

Taking Precise Measurements Of A Beautiful Young Woman's Head And Face With A Contraption Like An Instrument Of Torture, 1933

Taking Precise Measurements Of A Beautiful Young Woman's Head And Face With A Contraption Like An Instrument Of Torture, 1933

Hulton Archive Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

Is he making Frankenstein's bride?

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Note: this post originally had 43 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.