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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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Art
70,000 Brooklyn Academy of Music Playbills and Posters Now Available Online
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The Brooklyn Academy of Music has made tens of thousands of playbills, posters, and other ephemera dating back to the 1860s available online, The New York Times reports.

The Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive launched on June 20 and contains more than 70,000 archival materials from the modern era back to the institution’s founding in the 1860s, covering some 40,000 artists.

A transportation poster reads
Ivan Chermayeff, 1984 / BAM

The collection includes advertisements for speakers like Frederick Douglass, Helen Keller, and Amelia Earhart; playbills for performances by artists like famous pianist Van Cliburn; mid-century photos of dancers like Bertram Ross; posters for film festivals held at BAM throughout the years; and tickets for productions and symphony concerts dating back decades. The online archive contains photos and audio recordings from recent productions, too, including ones with celebrities like Alan Rickman and Ian McKellen. You can search specific collections (like, say, programs and playbills from the 19th century) or aggregate all the images related to one artist, like all the work related to Alan Rickman’s performances.

Explore the archive here.

[h/t The New York Times]

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In the 19th Century, Drinking Too Much Tea Could Get You Sent to an Asylum
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If you were a woman in the 19th century, virtually anything could get you committed to an insane asylum—including drinking too much tea.

NHS Grampian Archives, which covers the region around Scotland’s Grampian mountains, dug up this admissions record from the Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum while looking into the institution’s annual reports from the 1840s. The table contains data on causes of admissions categorized by sex. In addition to those admitted to the asylum for “prolonged nursing,” “poverty,” or “disappointment in love” (one man and one woman admitted for that one!), one woman arrived at the asylum only to have her issues blamed on “sedentary life—abuse of tea.”

Intrigued by the diagnosis, someone at the archives tracked down more details on the patient and posted the case notes on Facebook. Naturally, her condition involved more than just a little too much Earl Grey. Elizabeth Collie, a 34-year-old factory worker, was admitted in November 1848 after suffering from delusions, specifically delusions about machines.

Her files state that “she imagines that some species of machinery has been employed by her neighbors in the house she has been living in, which had the effect of causing pain and disorder in her head, bowels, and other parts of the body.”

Asylum employees noted that ”no cause [for her condition] can be assigned, except perhaps the excessive use of tea, to which she has always been much addicted.” She was released in June 1849.

A letter to the editors of The British Medical Journal in 1886 suggests that the suspicion of women’s tea-drinking habits was not unique to Aberdeen mental health institutions. One doctor, J. Muir Howie—who once served as a regional president for the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh, so we can assume he was relatively respectable—wrote to the publication:

Would you kindly allow me to draw attention to the fact that, among women at least, the abuse of tea frequently leads to the abuse of alcohol! My experience in connection with a home for inebriate women has led me to this conclusion. Many of the inmates, indeed, almost all of them, were enormous tea-drinkers before they became victims to alcoholic dipsomania. During their indulgence in alcohol, they rarely drink much tea; but, as soon as the former cut off, they return to the latter. In many instances, alcohol was first used to relieve the nervous symptoms produced by excessive tea drinking.

Ah, women. So susceptible to mania and vice. It's a miracle any of us stay out of the madhouse.

Image courtesy NHS Grampian Archives via Twitter

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