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Bleaching Creams, Choking Bodices And Tapeworms. A New Exhibit Asks: Beauty Or Torture?

Bleaching Creams, Choking Bodices And Tapeworms. A New Exhibit Asks: Beauty Or Torture?

GUEST:

Marley Healy, curator, "Beauty or Torture"

Transcript

Photo credit: Women’s Museum of California

A display from the exhibit, "Beauty or Torture," at the Women’s Museum of California.

Women can put themselves through a lot looking for the holy grail of beauty products and treatments. There are plenty of cure-all lotions and tonics claiming to be the latest, greatest medical miracle. But they are nothing compared to some of the beauty tools women used more than 100 years ago, including tapeworms.

“Fat, the enemy that is shortening your life, banished! How? With sanitized tapeworms," a late 1800s ad for tapeworms read. "Easy to swallow!"

"Beauty or Torture," a new exhibit at the Women’s Museum of California looks at some of the more extreme lengths women have gone in search of society’s ideals of beauty, including those tapeworms. The exhibit runs through January and includes one of the first patented perm machines and antique curling irons heated by kerosene.

Marley Healy, the exhibit curator, joins KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday to discuss what she learned combing through centuries of women's beauty treatments.

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