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11 Weird Fashion And Beauty Trends From Around The World

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If you just don't get the Oliver Twist-esque street urchin look that defines hipster fashion, or the weird, two-tone hair (it's called ombre!) that so many celebrities have, you'll be downright mystified by these trends from around the globe.

1. Shippo, The Brain-Controlled Tail

All humans have tails. At least we do early on, about 3 to 4 weeks into our embryonic development. But they evolve no further than that ... until now. Japanese company Neurowear has recently unveiled the body-controlled Shippo (translation: tail). This fuzzy little backside duster tells the world if you’re happy or sad, bored or frisky. It does this via an EEG headset and a clip-on heart monitor that are wired to the fluffy appendage. Shippo also features geotagging and smart phone sharing capability, which allows devotees to find each other and engage in mutual tail wagging.

2. Bagel-Shaped Forehead Injections

Though it looks like Botox gone wild, it's saline, not botulinum toxin, that’s being injected into the foreheads of willing subjects. Part of a Japanese “body modification” art scene, the procedure takes about 2 hours and 400cc of saline, injected via a crochet-sized needle. The resulting forehead-sized blob is then manipulated with the fingers into a bagel-like shape, with an indentation pressed in the middle (the effect brings to mind Worf from Star Trek: TNG) . Fortunately, these injections aren’t permanent. They’re gone in about 16 hours, after the body absorbs the saline.

3. Yaeba Teeth

Maybe we’ve taken the ideal of perfectly straight, white teeth as far as it can go. That seems to be the message behind the trend of Yaeba, which means “double tooth” in Japanese. Many women are choosing dental crowns that elongate their canine teeth and give the effect of dental overcrowding (not to mention a vaguely vampire-ish vibe). Why? Because in Japanese culture, young women with these kind of crooked teeth are considered cute and innocent. One does have to wonder if it makes flossing more difficult.

4. Face-kinis

Walk along the beach in China’s coastal city of Qingdao, and you might think you’re in the middle of a Mexican wrestlers’ convention. But its just the locals wearing face-kinis—colorful protective masks that cover all but the nose, mouth and eyes. The reason? They’re trying to maintain their fair complexions. Apparently, in metro areas of China, having a tan gives one the undesirable look of a peasant farmer.

5. Pollution Masks

Another facial accessory from China. These masks started off with a more practical application, which is keeping the toxic fumes of polluted cities out of one’s lungs. But now they’ve also become mini-fashion statements, with designs from polka dots to patterns by Louis Vuitton.

6. Extraocular Implants

If the eyes are the windows of the souls, then consider these implants as window dressing. They are tiny pieces of metallic jewelry—hearts, stars, Euro signs—inserted beneath the cornea. The trend started in the Netherlands about ten years ago, and that’s still the only place where it’s legal for ophthalmologists to perform the procedure.

7. Mexican Pointy Boots


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This trend reportedly began 3 years ago, when a mysterious man in northeastern Mexico named “Cesar of Huizache” started sporting extreme footwear—sequined boots with 3-to-4-foot foam extensions that curled at the tips. (Think elf shoes, as imagined by Tim Burton.) The fad spread among the younger generation, and has since become associated with dance competitions and fashion-conscious cliques of club kids.

8. Ear Pointing

Don’t we all aspire to be a little more like Mr. Spock? In what sounds like an extremely painful procedure, the top of the ear’s cartilage is sliced open, then sewn back together in a point. Arizona–based body modification artist Steve Haworth, who started performing the procedures about ten years ago, says, “There’s a lot of people out there who have an inner vision of themselves and they want to express that to the world around them. I’m very happy to be an artist that can provide that kind of work.” Highly illogical, Steve.

9. Bird Poop Facials

Proof that the trend towards all things organic can be taken too far? This technique was borrowed from geishas, who once used nightingale droppings as a natural exfoliant. Today, fancy salons from Tokyo to Hollywood combine the powdered bird poop with rice bran and ultraviolet light to sanitize the skin. Price? $180.

10. Mind-Controlled Cat Ears

Hello, Kitty! A few years ago, the same Japanese company that gave us the wagging Shippo tails introduced the “necomimi” (a combination of Japanese words for “cat” and “ear”). With a headband that supposedly responds to the wearer’s brain waves, the ears are triggered to mimic a feline’s—laying flat when the person is bored or tired, wriggling and turning when they’re amused or intrigued, and so on.

11. Nose Waxing

This salon trend has been growing in popularity over the past few years. So much so that there’s now a home version, called Nad’s Nose Wax. Just apply hot wax to applicator and put it up your nose, wait 90 seconds, then yank the applicator from nose. Ouch? You bet.

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If You’ve Ever Seen a Ghost, Science May Explain Why
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Despite all the reports of ghost sightings (28 percent of Americans report having ghostly encounters), there’s zero evidence to support the presence of supernatural beings among us. Science may not prove the existence of ghosts, but it can help explain why people think they see ghosts in the first place.

In this video from Vox, paranormal investigator Joe Nickell identifies some of the phenomena believers may mistake for paranormal activity. One possible explanation is infrasound, or the sound waves that fall beneath levels of human perception. Though we can’t hear these noises firsthand, our bodies sense them in other ways. This can cause chills, feelings of unease and depression, and even hallucinations.

Other contributors may include sleep paralysis (when you wake up while your body is immobile and experience waking nightmares) and grief. There are also a few less common possibilities that aren’t covered in the video below: Mold poisoning, for instance, can lead to irrational fear and dementia. Suddenly, a visit from a poltergeist doesn’t sound so scary.

[h/t Vox]

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History
Charles Dickens, Part-Time Mesmerist
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Madame Augusta de la Rue dreaded the end of each day. After settling into bed, her anxiety kept her alert with visions of a figure that followed her into her dreams. When it wasn’t insomnia, she dealt with headaches, a nervous tic, convulsions, and a “burning and raging” mind that was impossible to quiet. Her symptoms became so severe that in 1844 she sought a trendy and controversial treatment known as mesmerism. Her mesmerist: the famous author Charles Dickens.

When Dickens encountered mesmerism in the 1830s, the practice was well-established in the medical community. The German doctor Franz Anton Mesmer had introduced it in the 1770s as a means of manipulating something he called animal magnetism—the magnetic fluid Mesmer believed flowed through the bodies of all living things. According to his theory, the state of this liquid energy was closely tied to one’s health: An uninterrupted flow led to wellness, while blockages caused problems ranging from vomiting to hysteria. Fortunately, Mesmer claimed, these conditions could be cured with a magnet and a steady hand.

By guiding magnets along his patients’ bodies, Mesmer thought he could redistribute the fluid, although he eventually ditched the magnets in favor of his bare hands after discovering they worked just as well. Soon, anyone who shared Mesmer’s supposed magnetic gifts could practice mesmerism by laying or passing their hands over the afflicted. (On top of adding animal magnetism to the lexicon, Mesmer is said to have given us the flirtatious phrase making a pass.) Although responses to mesmeric sessions varied, some claimed it gave them full relief of various physical ailments.

Mesmer died in 1815, a couple decades before the start of the Victorian era. With that period came a nationwide obsession with the metaphysical that renewed public interest in mesmerism not just as a medical treatment, but as a form of entertainment. Practitioners would mesmerize patients into trances and parade them around parties. But some were more than performance artists—John Elliotson, one of the most prolific figures in the field, was a well-respected surgeon famous for popularizing the stethoscope. He was also good friends with Charles Dickens.

Dickens first witnessed mesmerism up close at a demonstration Elliotson gave at London’s University College Hospital in 1838. The writer was intrigued, and implored Elliotson to show him more. Not everyone had a knack for mesmerism, but Dickens was a natural. He wrote years later, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a Frying-Pan.”

Around the same time he took on Dickens as his pupil, Elliotson watched his career implode. The medical community was then embroiled in a fierce debate over whether or not mesmerism was a legitimate science. One of its staunchest opponents was Thomas Wakley, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet. Wakley affirmed his suspicions after conducting a trial in which the O’Key sisters, two of Elliotson’s more colorful patients, failed to respond to certain "mesmerized" metals yet produced fits in response to materials they were only told were mesmerized. The results of the trial seemed to prove that mesmerism was fake, and Elliotson resigned from his job at University College Hospital shortly after that.

Throughout the controversy, Dickens remained a loyal friend—he even asked Elliotson to be the godfather of his second child. He also continued pursuing his new hobby. In 1842, while in Pittsburgh with his wife Catherine as part of the research for his travelogue American Notes for General Circulation, he first put his mesmerism skills to the test, with Catherine agreeing to be his guinea pig. After several minutes of waving his hands over her head just like Elliotson had taught him, she devolved into hysterics and promptly fell asleep. Dickens took her dramatic response as a sign of his power, and he considered the trial a great success.

From then on, he practiced his talent on whoever was game. His sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth reacted much like Catherine, slipping into a hysterical episode almost immediately. John Leech, who did the original illustrations for A Christmas Carol, came to Dickens for treatment after injuring his head while swimming. Leech felt much better following their session and Dickens took credit for his recovery. The actor Charles Macready, however, was the rare person who didn’t buy the shtick. After Dickens tried to mesmerize him, Macready described the experience as “very unpleasant,” saying “it could not effect me.”

Dickens’s dabblings with mesmerism culminated with a visit to Italy beginning in 1844. He was once again traveling in the name of research, this time for his nonfiction book Pictures From Italy. While staying in Genoa, he became good friends with the Swiss banker Emile de la Rue. He also became close with the banker's English-born wife, Madame Augusta de la Rue—the woman destined to become his most challenging patient. Madame de la Rue suffered from a host of ailments that stemmed from her anxiety, and after hearing about her issues, Dickens offered to help the only way he knew how.

Their first session, which took place in December 1844, may have discouraged a less-experienced mesmerist. Instead of easing her discomfort, his gestures made her more agitated. Madame de la Rue succumbed to a massive anxiety attack, and Dickens took her sensitivity to the treatment as a good sign. They both agreed to see each other again, and soon the meetings became part of their routines.

Madame de la Rue’s response to the therapy grew more promising with each encounter. Her face, once tense with muscle spasms, started to soften. The volume of her thoughts dropped a few notches and she was able to fall asleep much faster. Satisfied with his success treating her physical suffering, Dickens delved deeper into her psyche. He asked her to describe her thoughts and dreams, hoping to get to the root of her illness. The most persistent vision she shared was one of a “phantom” that dogged her whether she was asleep or awake. Dickens described the power it held over her in a letter to her husband:

“That figure is so closely connected with the secret distresses of her very soul—and the impression made upon it is so entwined with her confidence and trust in me, and her knowledge of the power of the Magnetism—that it must not make head again. From what I know from her, I know there is more danger and delay in one appearance of that figure than in a dozen fits of the severest bodily pain. Believe nothing she says of her capacity of endurance, if the reappearance of that figure should become frequent. Consult that mainly, and before all other signs.”

Decades before Sigmund Freud adopted hypnosis as a psychotherapy tool, Dickens was using mesmerism to trace his patient’s visible symptoms to her subconscious mind.

Catherine Dickens didn’t share her husband's excitement for the situation. She had always been jealous of the women her husband mesmerized, and she felt especially threatened by his relationship with Madame de La Rue. And if she thought she’d have her husband’s full attention when they left Genoa to see the rest of Italy in the spring of 1845, she was mistaken. Letters from de La Rue updating Mr. Dickens on her status followed him around the country. Even though they couldn’t be in the same room, the pair continued their appointments remotely by attempting to connect through telepathy for one hour starting at 11 a.m. each day.

Though her condition had vastly improved since their first meeting, the Madame hoped to see Dickens one last time when he finally returned to Genoa in May 1845. Unfortunately a stomach bug prevented the pair from reuniting. He wrote to her in a letter:

"You must not think I am sending you an excuse in lieu of myself. I am in a hideous digestive state, cross, uncomfortable, bilious, blah and limp. A mutton chop and a long walk, and nobody to be contradictory to, are the remedies I have prescribed myself.”

After he resettled in England, Dickens’s passion for mesmerism cooled. He indulged in other mystical hobbies, however: In 1849, he performed stage magic under the pseudonym The Unparalleled Necromancer, Rhia Rhama Rhoos; in 1852, he wrote a spontaneous combustion scene into his realistic fiction book Bleak House, a decision he defended with conviction after it angered scientists. Like many fads to emerge from the Victorian era, those areas of interest have since largely faded from fashion. Mesmerism, on the other hand, laid the foundation for modern hypnosis—but today the treatment is administered by mental health professionals, not young novelists on vacation.

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