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

Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month ago

Can you imagine seeing that crawl out from the water?

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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

Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month ago

Back when hosiery was probably rather expensive, women of more modest means, did they best they could to appear chic.

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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
1 month ago

Your own portable changing room. LOL

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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

Wripolsi
Community Member
1 month ago

My eyes hurt.

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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
1 month ago

But, why?

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#6

"Ironing" Hair, 1964

"Ironing" Hair, 1964

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Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month 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
1 month ago

Lol

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#8

French Breast Washer, 1930s

French Breast Washer, 1930s

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Helen Haley
Community Member
1 month ago

Why?

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#9

Portable Hair Dryer, 1940s

Portable Hair Dryer, 1940s

Easyart/PA Report

Sasy
Community Member
1 month ago

Had one in the 80s, it was silly fun.

Fixin'Ta
Community Member
1 month ago

Had one in the 60s. Totally worked. Roll up your hair, spritz it with setting gel, pop one of these babies on your head and turn it on. 30 minutes or so later, your 'do was done.

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Aunt Messy
Community Member
1 month ago

40s? Try in the 60s. Mom had one when I was a kid.

Kelly Murray
Community Member
1 month ago

I have one, now, that attaches to my hair dryer. It's awesome.

Andrea Delden
Community Member
1 month ago

My husband gave me one in 1967 as a wedding gift because he “never wanted to see me in curlers”! He was such a twit, but me more so as we are still married after 53 years! It’s all in the way you’re brought up. I was raised not to question men.

Elaine Mattingly
Community Member
4 weeks ago

We couldn't afford one , guess I was lucky I had naturally curly hair. Challenge your rearing rules?

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DDmaybeandor
Community Member
1 month ago

I have one, I've got very curly hair and they work well. They're loud, but I can work on the computer for an hour or so and don't have to mess with a diffuser. Just pineapple my hair, put it on, and sit in one place.

Louloubelle
Community Member
1 month ago

My mother had one of these. She would "set" our hair on curlers and then put this on our heads. She used it every week to "do" her hair.

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
1 month ago

She have beautiful face, must say

Donna Land
Community Member
1 month ago

I had one - the bonnet was detachable and I ran the hose under my blankets for a nice warm bed. They were also great for defrosting freezers.

Tracy Costa
Community Member
1 month ago

I still have one of these. It makes you look like you just had a salon blowout. I love the damned thing!

BusLady
Community Member
1 month ago

My grandmother had a bonnet hair dryer in the 60's. It wasn't portable, though. I hated having to sit there for what seemed like an eternity.

Lyra Fortune
Community Member
1 month ago

Aren't most hairdryers portable though?

ᴍɪᴋᴀꜱᴀ ᴀᴄᴋᴇʀᴍᴀɴ
Community Member
1 month ago

-LOL Your right UwU!!-

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Stille20
Community Member
1 month ago

That's not crazy. You just want to be able to dry your hair when you travel.

Anita Chapman
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Doesn’t seem “unimaginable” to me. Just old fashioned.

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Debbie Anholt
Community Member
4 weeks ago

40s? I'd say 1960s.

Cameron Metcalf
Community Member
1 month ago

NOW THIS is nice expecially the ones who like to swim but have really thick, long hair MEEEE

Brenda Suttles
Community Member
1 month ago

I had one of those but my hair was so long and thick it took twice the time to dry it so I would just the air dry it and brushed it a lot to keep is soft.

Molly Block
Community Member
1 month ago

They still make these, right?

Dana Grunwald
Community Member
1 month ago

My mother had one too.

Devin Schmitt
Community Member
1 week ago

My mom had this.

niKols Viden
Community Member
3 weeks ago

My Mom had one, I use to use it when I was a preteen. Sets your curls nicely!

Kathy Brown
Community Member
3 weeks ago

I had one.

Barbara Stewart
Community Member
3 weeks ago

I remember my sister had one of these.

Jenifer Shields
Community Member
3 weeks ago

God, I feel old. My mom had one, and there's a pic of me as a little girl smiling with this thing on my head (I'm 52).

Kimberly Brown
Community Member
3 weeks ago

My mom had one. It worked!

May Be
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Not a bad idea, especially if you had long hair and no better way to dry it quickly.

Carole Strawn
Community Member
4 weeks ago

This was kind of fun. Made so much noise you could ignore everyone while you were under it. Good time to sit and read.

Cammy Wesson-Cohen
Community Member
4 weeks ago

No, 1960's

Teresa Groth
Community Member
4 weeks ago

I liked mine it was very convenient!

ClaudiaDarla03
Community Member
4 weeks ago

looks like something aliens would use to brainwash humans lol

Doris Bennett
Community Member
4 weeks ago

We just went to bed in pin-curls in the 50's & 60's. Only popular girls had hair dryers.

Johanne Trudeau
Community Member
4 weeks ago

My Mom had one of these...

Evangeline Valhalla
Community Member
4 weeks ago

I had one but I don’t think they worked well

Jane Dorothy Warner
Community Member
4 weeks ago

We had one back in the day. It was fun.

PD
Community Member
4 weeks ago

Terrified the cat tho’!

Judy Crozier
Community Member
4 weeks ago

I had one of those in the 60s

Susie Swearingen-Kamachi
Community Member
1 month ago

We had these in the 60’s

Renae Weidman
Community Member
1 month ago

I had one in the early 2000’s.

JD Lee
Community Member
1 month ago

I’m suddenly understanding how the beehive progressed.

Yibo Wang
Community Member
1 month ago

Wow!

Daniel Callaway
Community Member
1 month ago

I remember these.

Todd Hollfelder
Community Member
1 month ago

They still make those things. As a stylist, I find them quite useful in a number of scenarios.

Denise Mclean
Community Member
1 month ago

I remember these, my Mother had one.

Michael Dworkin-Robertson
Community Member
1 month ago

yep, they used to big, the "in" thing....

Cynthia Marrs
Community Member
1 month ago

I had one in the 70s. Very handy. Was able to get a little more sleep wearing the hairdryer over curlers and wet hair before getting dressed for work.

Kathryn Sutherland
Community Member
1 month ago

This was in the fifties. My sisters and I used them. They weren’t huge nor were they heavy. They worked really well. We used what was what was Ava.

Brenda Savage
Community Member
1 month ago

I believe my Mom had one of those!

Elena Johnson
Community Member
1 month ago

I had one, in the 70’s maybe. I miss that, easier than a handheld dryer.

Susan Price
Community Member
1 month ago

My mom had one of these and I remember playing with it in the early 70's =]

CharliAnn Olney
Community Member
1 month ago

Remember using one with my "orange juice can" hair rollers in the late 60's (or was it early 70's?) too long ago to clearly remember now. LOL

Suebee70
Community Member
1 month ago

We had one of these when I was small - I thought it was a lot of fun to use.

Veronica Vatter
Community Member
1 month ago

I have one of these. Works great for my curly hair

Toni
Community Member
1 month ago

those hair dryers were brilliant

Patty Leaton
Community Member
1 month ago

cook your brain

Lynn Greyling
Community Member
1 month ago

Ditto!

Coco
Community Member
1 month ago

hahaha this looks so cute!!

Darth Vader
Community Member
1 month ago

This is truly great

Damien Albaugh
Community Member
1 month ago

Where does it's air come from tho

Hańka
Community Member
1 month ago

But the photo comes from after the forties - look at her bra, blouse, pearl nail polish... sixties? seventies?

Tyna Harrison
Community Member
1 month ago

My Mom had one of these for years, it came with a shoulder strap so she could continue with the housework!

23AClark
Community Member
1 month ago

My mom still has hers, although she has no use for it anymore.

Bron
Community Member
1 month ago

Still used today, for drying curly hair

Hollybolly
Community Member
1 month ago

Grandma still did this in her last year in 2009

Kat Kirkpatrick
Community Member
1 month ago

OMG, my mom had one of these. It was still working up until the mid 1980's, and she and I would use it when I wanted to curl my hair.

Dreamwolf
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

she be looking like pumpkin head from the old film just look it up.

Nicole Tomme
Community Member
1 month ago

"Perfect for my Alien vs. Predator costume"

Bob Belcher
Community Member
1 month ago

Coneheads

Stina Kolling
Community Member
1 month ago

That outfit screams 80s, not 40s.

Saskia Klebus
Community Member
1 month ago

How to look like an octopus 2.40!! Haha

Thalia Lovering
Community Member
1 month ago

They still make those but without the dryer.

Gerry Higgins
Community Member
1 month ago

My mom had one of those.

Debra Trayler
Community Member
1 month ago

Had one in the 60s - it was a groovy 'walkabout' affair with a long cord. Loved it!

Megan Peniston-Bird
Community Member
1 month ago

Still around in 1960s.

Marky Mark
Community Member
1 month ago

Anyone remember the Coneheads?

Sasha Kuleshov
Community Member
1 month ago

So it's blowing air in or out?

Delilah Boyd
Community Member
1 month ago

Ours was pink. Goofy fun. My brothers were silly clowns. 🕺 70s

Max L.
Community Member
1 month ago

Compared to the others, this seems a paradise

Loes Hozeman
Community Member
1 month ago

My mom used this till the 70’s

Kim Thompson
Community Member
1 month ago

My mom had one similar to this one.

Candace Mccoy
Community Member
1 month ago

You can buy the hose and cap part at beauty supplies hook it up to a blow dryer.

pansexualandproud
Community Member
1 month ago

it looks like fun

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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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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

Raine Soo
Community Member
1 month ago

Women use ice masks because it prevents facial puffiness.

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#15

Woman Tans Using A Suntan Vending Machine, 1949

Woman Tans Using A Suntan Vending Machine, 1949

ahtisham-ahmed Report

Hope Floats
Community Member
1 month ago

Looks like a petrol pump.. You could fill the car and tan your arms at the same time.. Ha ha ha.

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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

ML
Community Member
1 month ago

This would be applicable today also with this Covid hanging around

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#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

Downunderdude
Community Member
1 month ago

This was during the war. At that time, nylon had only just been invented. Both silk and nylon were needed to make parachutes and were either just about impossible to get or were prohibitively expensive.

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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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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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Ray Martin
Community Member
1 month ago

If Rose had worn one of those on the Titanic, Jack could could have had the door and the film would have had a happy ending.

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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

Downunderdude
Community Member
1 month ago

Sure it's not a bdsm fetish shoot?

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#23

A Fruit Mask From The 1930s

A Fruit Mask From The 1930s

vintage.everyday Report

Jayne Kyra
Community Member
1 month ago

And even today some people or articles will recommend using straight up lemons and lemon juice to "even out skin-tone" or better yet, "to lighten the skin".

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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
1 month 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
1 month ago

Ah, the days before rhinoplasty...

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#26

Dimple Machine In 1936

Dimple Machine In 1936

Unknown Report

Downunderdude
Community Member
1 month ago

OK, I've got an idea... So, you attach wire to the inside of your cheeks (oh, I don't know. Superglue, maybe. Details. I'll work it out later). Then you wrap the wire around your teeth. Brilliant, huh? I'm going to be SO rich!

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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

nanashi
Community Member
1 month ago

the world was a weird place before they admit that smoking kills.

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#28

Facial Warming Mask, 1940

Facial Warming Mask, 1940

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Ashasaurus rex
Community Member
1 month ago

The origins of Pac-Man

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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

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
1 month ago

She's in danger!

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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

ADHORTATOR
Community Member
1 month ago (edited)

1933? He may be looking for the measurements of the master race....

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