Women During Renaissance Used Leeches for Pale Skin

Women During Renaissance Used Leeches for Pale Skin

From elongated necks to blackened teeth, Beauty Bizarre documents the strangest, most dangerous, but very real beauty fads that have existed throughout history across the world.

While the current fixation with tanning has reached its own bizarre — and in many cases appropriative — lengths, what with cancer-causing fake tans and synthetic melanin injections, the past paints a vastly contrasting image.

The European Renaissance was particularly notorious for its blatant colorism. If you thought today's Instagram Influencers were setting up damaging beauty standards, Queen Elizabeth I, also referred to as 'The Virgin Queen,' believed in enhancing the outward appearance of her "virtue" by painting her face flat white, like a ghost.

What started as a a temporary solution to conceal major scars on her face after a random bout of smallpox, morphed into what became an actual LOOK. Inspired by her highness' pale visage, women would also douse their faces in heavy white makeup, along with dark red lips and cheeks. The idea was rooted in exuding a queen-like or a royal appearance.

If that sounds like, stupid, as with every decade, there were those who took things one step crazier.

In the pursuit of permanent and a more natural appearance of ghostly paleness, (and in the absence of skin lightening treatments), women would scrounge for leeches in the park or the forest or wherever they could find some, and then nonchalantly put them on their body. The preferred spot was the ears but any part of the body that provided smoother access to sucking blood out of their veins would ordinarily work.

Anyone who has been bitten by a leech understands how fucking painful that is, but women, at the time, would voluntarily endure the agony of having their blood drained by an actual leech to temporarily rock the a la mode look of death.

Hey, no pain, no gain.

Photo via Getty