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Everything is perfect now! I joined, and within weeks I was dating again! Thank you Victoria Milan! But as Oneill points out, working with ammonia was quite a bit more dangerous than getting a few drops of lather in the eyes. Also skin of its superfluous top few layers. If a woman was skeptical of the ammonia treatment, she could always reach for the alternative: Of course, onion juice stinks.
So she only scrubbed her white linen or cotton crotchless undergarments. But really, the most surefire way for a lady to deal with body odor was to wear perfume — a lot of it.
Even if a Victorian hardly bathed and doused herself in fermented whale poop on the regular, she could still have the appearance of flawless skin. Those unlucky to be born with freckles were advised to rinse their faces in lemon juice or, in more stubborn cases, to rub the skin with carbolic acid, or sit in the sun until the freckles burned off. And if premature wrinkles resulted from these harsh so-called cures, young women might look to the habits of their older relatives and drape their faces with thin slices of raw beef before bed.
Unfortunately, those often contained life-threatening ingredients like arsenic, strychnine, cocaine and — believe it or not — tapeworm larvae.
Presumably, all of this was worth it if a woman ultimately made the right match. Men were also counseled to take great care when selecting a lifelong mate. Very small waists were a red flag, a sign that the woman in question had weak organs and an overly delicate constitution. If a man was dark-haired, he was told he should select a blond bride; if his complexion was ruddy, an olive-skinned, cool-tempered girl was suggested.
Once married, a woman had any number of duties, from keeping the house in order to entertaining guests to bearing children. A scold was a woman who, whether overtly or otherwise, made her unhappiness obvious. She was the killjoy who disagreed with her husband or wanted to change him, taking issue, for instance, with his habit of visiting prostitutes on the way home from work. More likely, it had to do with her empty womb. After all, the womb at this time is the wellspring of the most terrible female diagnosis: So perhaps it made sense that the answer to a vast range of lesser problems was to go to the source and keep the anxious uterus occupied, literally.