Tuesday, August 6, 2019

18th C. Cosmetic “Betrayal”

In the late 1700’s, according to the British Parliament, no woman could “betray into matrimony any of His Majesty’s subjects by the scents, paints, cosmetics, washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, bolstered hips” or she’d be charged with witchcraft and more. Perhaps they were worried about some of the outlandish women’s fashions of Versailles making their way across the English Channel?

In “Strange As It Seems” –
A Prohibition on ‘Gilding the Lily’ for Landing a Husband

Evidently alarmed by the growing usage of artificial beauty aids in the late eighteenth century, the staid English Parliament of the period actually enacted the following law: 
“All women, whatever age, rank, profession or degree . . . that shall from and after such an act . . . betray into matrimony any of His Majesty’s subjects by the scents, paints, cosmetics, washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty against witchcraft and like misdemeanors and that the marriage upon conviction shall stand null and void.” 
The law, so far as is known, was not rigidly enforced and some time after its enactment was shelved—possibly to avoid the risk of a feminine revolution. – John Hix, 1936


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

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