The magazine - part 2 Beauty the Victorian way

Friends of the Lincoln Library column
By: By Jane Tahti For The News Messenger
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Browsing through the old 1899 magazine, one would have thought that Victorian women had all of our modern appliances and conveniences that free women from hands-on housekeeping chores.

How else would they have had time to indulge in the spa-from-hell beauty treatments so lavishly advertised in the Victorian magazine at hand?

One is agog when looking at the drawings for Robinson's THERMAL BATH Cabinet.  One assumes it was supposed to look irresistible to Victorian women, promising a little private sit-down time.

Inside the cabinet box, a nude woman sits on a stool with discreet flames fluttering just below.

Meanwhile, some kind of smoky fire wafts its way “upward.”  

Robinson's THERMAL BATH cabinet has special but questionable features, such as a door, a warning against other cabinets that “pull over the head” and its ability to “fold into a 6 inch space.” (Stored where?)

Robinson’s was also unreasonably picky about their agents and their advertisement reveals their impossibly high standards: “WE WANT LIVE AGENTS.”

Another advertisement touted a potion that promises to “dissolve unwanted women’s throat hair.”


Down below the throat in question, it’s clear that there was potion spillage almost completely dissolving the poor woman’s waistline. 

In comparison, our Sport's Illustrated swimsuit issues are a healthy breath of female flesh air! 



I think I meant “fresh” air.

One sees that Victorian women were encouraged to stock up on BOTOT’S Complexion Wafers, “the most wonderful beautifier that was ever made.”

The oddly-named BOTOT’S wafers cured men and women of skin problems “that make them look homely and old.” (Sign me up!)  

An added guarantee states that the wafers contain “not a single atom of Lead, Bismuth or Arsenic.” Apparently this scary trio of ingredients plagued other wafers.

And uh oh. 

Too bad if you're blonde.  You need to beware if your “skin or hair is fair.”

It’s bad news and a definite no-no. With fair skin or hair, you are “deficient in beauty, owing to undeveloped figures, flat busts, etc.” 

But not to worry.  This can be remedied by the use of ADIPO-MALENE. 

One wonders what happened to blondes after this cure was invented.    

Hopefully, all those blondes with their “undeveloped figures and flat busts” were skipping the corrective doses of ADIPO-MALENE, choosing instead to keep their husbands and boyfriends happy by living up to their reputations for “having more fun.”


At the Twelve Bridges Library

Free Family Story Time:  3:30 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays. Includes stories and songs for all ages.

Free Mother Goose on the Loose: 10:30 or 11:30 a.m. Thursdays for kids.

Events are sponsored by Friends of the Lincoln Library.  Wheelchairs and handicapped access are available. The Twelve Bridges Library is at 485 Twelve Bridges Drive in Lincoln.


 This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. To reach the nonprofit Friends, write to Box 1177, LincolnCA 95648 , contact 434-2404 or Jane Tahti is the Friends of the Lincoln Library secretary.