Odd Trends from Victorian England

The Victorians were no doubt an exceptional group to create a very odd society to save the least. Much of their inspiration came from Queen Victoria, who was in mourning during most of her time on the throne following the death of her husband, Prince Albert. This created the trend of wearing black garb for decades on end and created dozens of mourning items. The Victorians indeed seemed to be obsessed with death and were fascinated with anything morbid.

 

 

 

This was a time period of change where inventions were in the making and people could begin to afford a comfortable living. But what else did the Victorians get up to? Here are the most peculiar trends that will make you question their sanity. Even their favorite foods are bound to shock you, as they ate every part of their favorite animals. Click next to see just how awful it got.

 

 

 

Food Vendors

 

Unlike the middle class, life was rather miserable for the working class. Many families were forced to live in cramped, dank tenements with poor ventilation and no fireplaces. It really only provided sleeping quarters and a communal bathroom. With no kitchen, what did the Victorians do for food? All meals were eaten out of the house, a trend which popularized street vendors, so families could buy a hot meal in the evening. Here were the top choices for eating a dinner on the smog-filled streets of London.

 

 

 

Eels were cut up in pieces, boiled and served with broth in a cup, which were reused and seldom washed. Bloaters were another popular choice, salty smoked herring heated over a flame and consumed whole. If you were lucky, you could buy meat pies filled with offal, the leftover scraps of meat. For a shocking lifestyle trend, click next to reveal modern art.

 

 

Tattooing

 

Believe it or not, the Victorians were one of the first modern societies to catch onto tattooing for body art. Previously, tattoos were only associated with sailors and criminals, but in 1862 the future King Edward VII got a tattoo of the Jerusalem Cross while on a trip to the Promised Land. This largely popularized tattooing among the aristocrats before going mainstream. By the end of the century, it was estimated that over 100,000 Britons had tattoos.

 

 

Although not mandatory, Field Marshall Earl Roberts encouraged soldiers in the British Army to get a tattoo of their regimental crest to aid in body recovery after combat. The symbolic tattoo of course helped lift spirits and solidify their identity as soldiers serving their country. A handful of women couldn’t resist the craze to get inked in the name of self-expression. Instead of inking up their bodies, click next for more common trends among women.

 

Swooning and Fasting from Corsets

 

Corsets created a deadly problem to give women a figure in their heavy-clothed dresses: tight lacing. Long term corset wear and tight lacing cinched waistlines, leading to organ damage, broken ribs and breathing problems. Extreme tight lacing literally took young ladies’ breath away, which incidentally also became a trend. Otherwise known as swooning, it was considered desirable for women to drop to the ground in public, to give a delicate impression.

 

 

 

 

Why was not being able to breath so glamorous? Even if women didn’t practice tight lacing, swooning was one of the few ways they were encouraged to express their emotions. An even deadlier fad was fasting – women were encouraged to appear as if they never ate, while in reality they may have been scarfing down meals in private. If these trends actually led to their demise, click next to see how their families would commemorate their deaths.

 

Memento Mori: Postmortem Portraits

 

Meaning “Remember you shall die”, Memento Mori were photographs the family took with their loved ones after they died. Many people couldn’t afford pricey photographs, so the only picture they ever took was after they already died. If this isn’t morbid enough, family members would dress the corpses of the deceased and go through hair and make-up before propping them up and prying their eyes open to make them look more “lively”.

 

 

 

Some photographers even went so far to develop the picture with the living family members slightly out focus so the corpse image looked sharper. In the tragic, yet highly common, instance of a child’s memento mori, they were posed with their toys, as if all is well and they were just resting during play. If they had surviving siblings, they were forced to posed with their deceased brother or sister, which wasn’t at all traumatizing or creepy. Click next to reveal a livelier past time.

 

Outrageous Vignettes

 

 

In the age of technology, we have endless hours of entertainment right at our fingertips, tanks to touch screen computers of all sorts and wireless internet. But what did people do for entertainment long before radio and television? The Victorians enjoyed performing vignettes when company came over. Predating vaudeville, vignettes were short comedy sketches and simple props and costume changes were used during the performance. This may seem like a fun way to entertain guests, but the Victorians of course found a way to make it incredibly creepy and bizarre.

 

In the age of gothic novels, the Victorians loved anything that was a cross between the macabre and Shakespearian fantasy characters to bring to life. The imagery that comes from their vignettes were likely something straight out of nightmares, to say the least. For something even scarier, click next to uncover a commonplace killer hidden in plain sight.

 

Arsenic Décor

 

Victorians were sold on showcasing their standard of living by decorating their homes and displaying objects. Home guides highlighted the latest color palates and trends so housewives could keep their homes up-to-date. This unfortunately brought about a surprisingly dangerous craze: wallpaper. Sheele’s green was the most popular color of wallpaper to be sold, which contained the highest concentration of arsenic. Ingesting scraps of wallpaper was not the only way to keel over; simply living in the home would be enough to kill.

 

Arsenic fumes polluted the air and gas lighting only exacerbated the problem. Even though authorities suspected there was a problem with arsenic-laden products, they were never formally banned or recalled. The arsenic controversy became more openly publicized after Queen Victoria had rooms in her palace redecorated and a guest passed away in the night from arsenic poisoning. Click next to see what became of people who fell ill.

 

 

Operating Theatres

 

Nowadays, horror fanatics enjoy binge-watching scream fests while munching on snacks with friends. In the Victorian times, the entertainment value morbidly represented a snuff film performed right before your eyes. For a gruesome experience, the public along with medical students could watch a live surgery be performed in the operating theatre. Patients were strapped down while a surgeon used his dirty hands to operate on them with dirty instruments. The patients were completely conscious and there was no kind of anesthesia available.

 

 

Meanwhile, spectators found the shrill screams entertaining as the patients were cut open. If patients survived through the pain of the operation, hundreds would later die from infections. Yet at the time, they only cared about getting a surgeon that worked fast so the operation only lasted minutes, unlike the hours-long operations we know today. There were some rare cases where operations were impossible –click next to see what became of those people.

 

Freak Shows

 

Unfortunately, people who were born with rare conditions, birth defects or other deformations were treated as “freaks of nature”. It didn’t help any that even the best doctors and surgeons had little understanding of conditions that are now treatable today. If sufferers survived childhood, they were left with grim prospects for living a good life. Some ended up earning a living with a troupe of sideshow performers.

 

 

These so-called freak shows allowed the curiously cruel public to gawk at the performers, many of whom had congenital disorders, such as dwarfism or tumors. Harvey Midges cashed in on the shock factor, since the public thrived on demonizing people deemed “beastly hideous”. Midges’ performers included little people, so-called giants, conjoined twins and people of African descent. Victorian trends didn’t only victimize people. Click next to see an unlikely animal that nearly went extinct for a truly bizarre reason.

 

Turtle Soup

 

Along with eels and offal, turtles became a very popular delicacy in Victorian England. Turtles were first introduced to the English palate in the mid 1700’s, and quickly became associated with status of the upper class. While turtles were established as an important food staple in the Atlantic, the demand for the reptiles grew out of hand and soon ships were bringing back tanks full of turtles from the West Indies.

 

 

 

Turtle soup remained a sign of opulence in rich Victorian households, who had a strong hold on the price, nearly making it impossible for the working class to purchase the expensive, and increasingly rare turtle meat. At its peak, 15,000 turtles were shipped back to England, which nearly drove turtles to extinction. Shortly after the Victorians realized the turtle craze was dwindling resources, they begrudgingly ate the new soup of the lower classes: mock turtle soup made from different cuts of meat.

The Deadliest Things in Homes During the Industrial Revolution

Society was literally accelerating at a faster pace during the Industrial Revolution. People were going places at a rate like never before in the age of locomotives, automobiles, steamships and airplanes. Home life was also sped up with early appliances for communications and domestic work – everything from telephones to sewing machines soon became commonplace. In a time where processes became more efficient and everyone had the opportunity to earn good money, what could possibly go wrong?

 

 

 

The age of invention came with lots of experimentation and research only to be learned and improved from trial and error. Homes were filled with silent killers that were only seen as dangerous until after it was too late. Here are some of the things in many homes that caused countless deaths. Unfortunately, some dangers had to be learned the hard way – click next to see how a bright idea went up in flames.

 

 

Electricity

 

Once electricity was invented, it provided a new source of energy unlike anything before. Before the time of professional electricians, this new, clean energy had no regulation and it proved to be deadly, even among the top experts. A friend of Thomas Edison even died from electrocution, and that was someone who understood electricity. Just about anyone could do the electric wiring in their home, a problem only compounded by lack of insulation and electric gadget inventions.

 

Bare cables ran through walls and rooms and touching it would result in instant electrocution. Other appliances were plugged in directly at the main line for lighting, which created a “Christmas tree effect” of cables running from counter tops to the line dangling from the ceiling. This incorrect use of electricity running at irregular voltages caused numerous deadly fires. Wires in reach of young children were far from the only concern – click next to uncover how babies were in danger.

 

 

Killer Baby Bottles

 

 

While we may think that mothers in the “olden-days” were brought up to be housewives; the truth is that they have always been looking for ways to live more efficiently. While many parents opt for breast feeding, mothers back then were eager to detach their babies from their bosoms. In fact, bottle feeding babies was seen as a demand of modern society, as more women entered the workforce.

 

 

In 1860, the long-tube feeding bottle was invented and marketed as self-feeding for babies. Since the milk was sucked from the glass bottle into the nipple through a rubber tube, they were virtually impossible to clean. These killer bottles acted as an incubator for deadly bacteria, which multiplied inside the bottle. No one understood how crucial it was to properly sanitize feeding bottles, which wasn’t banned until 1910. This practice killed hundreds of babies – click next for another killer if they were to survive.

 

 

 

Childhood Lead Poisoning

 

If babies were fortunate enough to have survived the killer bottles and were born into an upper class home, many had their very own toys. In general, childhood mortality dropped compared to previous generations, which led to more emotional support from parents, who began to indulge in their children. Unfortunately, in this case, giving your children what you never had led to another unsuspecting killer.

 

Many toys were laden with lead paint, which caused a spike in childhood lead poisoning. This term wasn’t coined until 1904, when authorities finally understood the link between the childhood mortality rate and products containing lead paint. Regulating the uses of lead paint proved to be a struggle, since many products marketed for children’s use continued to contain lead paint up through the 1970’s. Children were at risk of exposure from any household items, to their cribs, to toys. Click next for another killer no one was safe from.

 

Asbestos

 

The miracle mineral asbestos was praised for its “clean energy” properties as inventors began looking for an alternative to coal for heating. As they discovered its other properties for sound-proofing, insulation, non-flammability, Westerners started importing the cheap mineral to manufacture products on an industrial scale. As factories started to process asbestos, it was soon observed how it would turn into a fine powder that would stay suspended in the air for long periods of time.

 

 

A concern was issued about the working conditions in the factories, but nothing was done about it, since the asbestos industry was far too lucrative to discontinue completely. Hundreds of workers inhaled the tiny shards of asbestos and developed related complications including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos used in the home carried the same risks of inhalation if it were to be disturbed and dispersed into the air. Click next for an invention that was made to kill.

 

 

 

Refrigerators

 

Back in the “olden days”, food at to be purchased fresh daily as an attempt to prevent food poisoning. Few lucky households used literal iceboxes – wooden cabinets lined with sawdust and kept cool with ice imported from the Arctic. The first refrigerator aimed to revolutionize food preservation and cooking, but prototypes that made it into households came at a deadly price. Inventors designed an evaporation process using chemicals to create a constant cooling effect that would work as long as it was plugged in.

 

While this was a million-dollar idea, they didn’t think to seal the refrigerator, so leakages were very common. Chemicals used in early refrigerators included ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ether; during a leakage, the noxious chemicals would fill the air. If that alone didn’t kill, switching on a light would be enough to cause a lethal explosion. The kitchen wasn’t the only dangerous place for women – click next to reveal how beauty was a killer.

 

 

 

 

Poisonous Cosmetics

 

It wasn’t legally mandatory to test products before they hit the market. In addition to allowing toxic products be used for human consumption, companies didn’t need to include the ingredients on the label. Face creams were applied to obtain a lily white complexion, which actually contained ammonia and bleach. Arsenic wafers were digested or arsenic soap was scrubbed into the skin to get rid of blemishes. To complete a pale complexion, face powders contained lead, because of the element’s white color.

 

Rosy cheeks were achieved with rouge and its key ingredient was often vermillion. Vermillion is derived from mercury and poisoned the women, who seemingly died in the name of beauty. For whatever reason, dying eyelashes and eyebrows during the time period was top beauty trend, but the products containing harsh chemicals often caused blindness. For another deadly trend, click next to uncover another way women went blind.

 

 

Deadly Nightshade

 

Deadly nightshade, also known as Belladonna, was a drug extracted from the plant. These extracts were used as eye drops to dilate the pupils. This very “woke” look was seen as desirable and was thought to make young women look like porcelain dolls. If these vintage beauty gurus were lucky, they’d make do with blurred vision or other minor side effects like dry mouth. But in most cases, this drug had very damaging effects on the body, causing an irregular heartbeat and blindness.

 

Many women suffered additional conditions before the risks associated with this eye-catching seductive look became common knowledge. Continued use of deadly nightshade resulted in complications during pregnancy. Alongside melancholia or hysteria, young women experienced mental illness symptoms from ingesting deadly nightshade. If you can’t imagine a death more tragic for a young woman, click next to reveal a killer that wasn’t discovered until it was already too late.

 

 

Radium Dials

 

After the discovery of radium, inventors soon got in on the craze to develop new ways of using the new element. One of the most exciting uses was radioluminescent paint – night life came alive in a brand new way thanks to the glow-in-the-dark properties of radium. Soon, radium dials became the new, must-have item in every household. However, these glow-in-the-dark clocks were safety hazards themselves and created deadly working conditions for factory workers.

 

The so-called Radium Girlswere responsible for painting the dials and had little instruction in handling the radioactive material. Not only were they directly exposed to the paint, but they also willingly ingested it, wetting the brush with their mouths to create a fine point while painting. They developed radium poisoning and phossy jaw which caused tumors, rotting tissue, organ failure and death.This was far from the only way people willingly ingested radium – click next to reveal the shocking truth.

 

 

 

Radium Therapy

 

Doctors and quacks alike were excited by the prospects radium could bring to the medical field. Little was understood about this energy, but the philosophy was the more energy absorbed into the body, the better the results in healing illnesses. X-rays and radiation therapy for cancerous tumors are the only practices we still use today in modern medicine. All the other early ideas in radium therapy proved to be deadly, but the detrimental effects of radium poisoning were discovered far too late.

 

The body processes radium particles just like calcium, so it would be stored in the bones and continue to do damage for years on end, slowly breaking down the body. Anyone who received hydrotherapy charged with radium or phototherapy would soon be doomed. Radium also brought excitement to any kind of product imaginable and hundreds of people ingested it in toothpaste, clothing, chocolate and even condoms.

black cat silhouette with orange full moon backdrop

How to Stay Productive and Inspire Creativity this November

The end of October ends with a celebratory bang — the whirlwind of pumpkins, sugar highs and horrific fantasies that Halloween brings leaves us in a hard shutdown by November 1st. It was as if all that hype was for nothing, as if we’re left in the dark as cold shells for the bleak month of November. I refuse to let go of the creative streak and inspiration Halloween brings, and you don’t have to either. Here is how to keep the energy high and carry the momentum that peaks for many of us in October.

 

1 || Give Yourself a Second Fresh Start

fall productivity: apple and coffee on stacked books
Hit the books with a classic Autumn pick-me-up.

After the beginning of the school year wears off, so does our motivation. November signals that the semester is well more than half over. We’ve had ample opportunities to make mistakes and get messy, which leads to a negative attitude, neglected projects and an unorganized workspace. Give yourself permission to step back from your work and take a well needed break. Make time for yourself every evening or take a mental health day to regain your focus with therapeutic destressing activities. Organize your workspace so it is functional, inspirational and keeps you productive. Come back with a killer game plan, so you can complete tasks and meet end of year deadlines for all your projects.

2 || Relish the Last of Autumn

Pumpkins displayed by door to inspire in November
Pumpkins are festive at the peak of the harvest season.

Many of us are cued in to sidereal transitions before Halloween and feel a sense of ending come November 1. Maybe it’s a tradition we inherited from our ancestors, but we should make the most to let our pagan roots inspire us! Did you know that Novemeber 1 was the official holiday to celebrate the Pagan New Year? Halloween ended the year in ancient times, so make November your month to start resolutions and plan projects early. This time of year represented an end to the harvest, but in today’s society, we have the means to still enjoy it. Continue to enjoy pumpkin treats, hot beverage and harvest meals of potatoes, squash, and root vegetables, for the season of autumn is still upon us!

3 || Create November Rituals

Boot shot surrounded by favorite autumn things for creative productivity in November
Just a few of your favorite things to kick off an autumn hike.

That warm, cozy feeling with all our favorite things in September and October leaves us feeling a void come November. We don’t seem to enjoy the same weekend routines that served us so well in early autumn. Create your own inspiration with new November rituals! If it is too late in the year to enjoy scenic hiking routes, local orchards or fall foliage photography, bring the outdoor inspiration inside. Print out black and white photography to make a gallery wall, paint tree branch silhouettes over sunset horizons or take this time to edit your October foliage shots. Find a new coffee favorite and start each morning by journaling or writing affirmations or read a new book before you plan your day. Take advantage of rain-free weekends and gather with friends and serve mulled cider around a bonfire.

 

4||  Soothe your Soul with Sensual Ambience

Enchanted Halloween Fairy Jack-o-lantern to inspire fall creativity
Set the ambience so every November evening is enchanted.

Everything around you may look dead and lifeless, but don’t let it affect you! Cozy up in the evenings and tap into your sensuality. You will stay warm and feel invigorated and alive. When you experience sensory imagery that stimulates the olfactory senses, you will feel happy and inspired to create beautiful things! Pick up on inspiration from nature and incorporate black, white and gray into your aesthetic. These classic neutrals offer a bold look against the grim background and you are free to add your personality to the style with any shade for a fun pop of color. Light up the night with black candles to ward off any negativity in your mind or living space or go for some twinkle lights for an enchanted evening. Pour a glass of red wine and set the mood with instrumental music for the perfect ambience. Use essential oils like patchouli, sage or cedarwood for a potent, earthy smell that will clear out any stale reluctance and bring on the good vibes.

 

5 || Make Magic Happen

witch flies on broomstick across full moon to inspire creativity on November 1
Emulate the magic from within this November.

Halloween tales and haunting lore captures our imaginations every year, and then it fades with the liminal holiday. The secret is that the magic comes from within. Nothing is going to happen without a positive, organized mindset. When you align your thoughts, feelings and intentions, you have the power to make beautiful changes happen and will gift yourself new opportunities. Use these tips to plan and focus your personal alignment and set yourself up for a productive life this Novemeber. Take advantage of this special time of year and seize the change of autumn to channel your creativity and make your own magic happen.