Eye of the Beholder

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If kids used to ride you for looking "beat up from the feat up" or for "taking one too many hits from the ugly stick" or even for having a "face that only a mother could love on payday," then maybe it's time you gained back some of that self-confidence...by hopping in a time machine!That's right, nothing heals wounds like time, so skip back to an age where you'll truly be appreciated for whom you are, inside and out.

But mostly out.

A Whiter Shade of Pale
Problem: You can't get a tan, and your hair's falling out.
Solution: Take comfort in Elizabethan England.
Leave it to the British to place a premium on pale skin. In the 16th century, women of leisure caked on their makeup for that fresh-from-the-morgue look and even painted blue veins on their faces for a more "natural" appearance. But if you're worried that your pale skin along won't win you acceptance, start plucking away at your hairline. If an Elizabethan woman didn't have a high enough forehead, she plucked or shaved until she got one, or sometimes even resorted to old-school Nair: Bandages soaked in vinegar and cat feces.

That Gap in Your Smile
Problem: You need a jump rope to floss between your teeth.
Solution: Head for the 14th century.
If your teeth are so separated that it looks like Moses played a hand in parting them, forget the braces and head for the 1300s. While there are plenty of modern-day beauties sporting sexy gap-toothed smiles (Madonna, Sandra Day O'Connor and Ted Koppel all come to mind), the dental quirk isn't nearly as desirable as it once was. Just flip through The Canterbury Tales for proof. Chaucer blessed his amorous Wife of Bath character with wide, child-rearing hips and brazen, red stockings, but he needed a device that even further illustrated her sensual nature"¦so he gave her the sort of "wide" smile that (back then) could make a bishop blush.

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Black Goes With Everything
Problem: Either you've chewed too much dip over the last few decades or your "Goth" phase got out of hand, because your teeth are now jet-black.
Solution: You're going to Japan!
You need to stop messing about with those fancy teeth-bleaching products and make a dash for Japan in the 1400s. Back then; it was common for Japanese women to make themselves more beautiful by dyeing their pearly whites black. The process, called ohaguro (which cleverly translates to "Black teeth"), involved soaking iron in tea or sake, then painting on the resulting black liquid. If, however, you want to put an extra coat on those teeth (remember, they can never be too black!), just make sure that the dye you're using is unleaded. Beauty always comes at a price, and in this case, the price was often lead poisoning.

More (loosely) ocular-related facts can be spotted in the eye-catching Scatterbrained from mental_floss, volume 2, issue 6.

More horrific pictures of Sam, former holder of the title "World's Ugliest Dog," can be found online. Sadly, Sam himself passed away in November of 2005.

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April 2, 2007 - 5:01am
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