Whoever came up with the popular adage that “beauty is pain” was most likely referring to these extreme beauty procedures women and some men have been subjecting themselves to overtime.
Beauty treatments and procedures are a global phenomenon. References can be made to the medieval Chinese foot binding, Kayan neck stretching and the Victorian tight lacing all done for women to appear more attractive in the eyes of society.
Ancient African societies had some beauty procedures that were deemed extreme by those outside the communities where they were practised. However, they were more cultural than aesthetics.
Facial scarification was a very popular practice among many tribes in Africa. Both men and women in West Africa were mostly scarred to signify tribal affiliation.
The Surma people of Ethiopia who believe that scarred skin is beautiful also marked other parts of the body. Females as young as 12 years old are slashed and cut up usually by their mothers. During this process, the girl is to be as quiet as possible and not express the pain felt to exhibit her resilience and strength. In recent times, it is hardly practised.
The Maasai of Kenya also engaged in earlobe stretching. This is done the same way as the lip plating. Although this is done by both men and women, the women have more fun with decorating their earlobes with unique Maasai jewellery such as beads and shells. The heavier and beautifully decorated your lobes are, the more beautiful you are.
Fast forward to contemporary Africa, women subject themselves to extreme beauty procedures invented by the West. Many African women have embraced these procedures which are widely abhorred for conflicting with cultural values.
Western procedures and treatment centres have spread across the continent and are making lots of money from the high patronage by African women who care more about their looks and wish to enhance them surgically or otherwise.
There are also many popular non-surgical methods like cosmetic fillers. Women get fillers in their cheeks, chin and under the eyes to hide age lines and bags under the eyes. Fillers create an appearance of youthfulness as they fill all the visible crevices that result in wrinkles. Because Africans have naturally plump lips, lip fillers are not so popular in Africa. Fillers are temporary and would have to be redone with time.
Botulinum toxin injections, also known as Botox which falls under the skin rejuvenation category is used medically to treat some muscular defects. Cosmetically, women –and some men- who want to get rid of their wrinkles resort to Botox to do the trick. They work by temporarily paralyzing some muscles which cause facial lines and wrinkles. The effects of these injections last for several months and can be done as many times as necessary.
Some bizarre non-surgical inventions for the face alone include:
- The bird poop facial: This is a paste-like mask made from the faeces of birds and applied on the skin. Spa owners swear by bird poop powder as one of the key ingredients to a glowing and healthy skin.
- Vampire facelift: This facial treatment became most popular when Kim Kardashian publicized getting one on her reality tv series. Here, blood is drawn from the arm and smeared onto the face to balance nerves and create the appearance of healthy skin.
- 24-carat gold facial: A paste made from gold is smeared on the face or all over the body and left to dry then peeled off to reveal smooth and glowing skin. It has been known to have anti-ageing tendencies.
- Placenta facial: Placenta derived from humans and sheep is sought after to make these facial masks which are known to keep the skin youthful and glowing.
- Vaginal steaming: Though not linked directly to the skin, some women have sworn by the overall benefits of this treatment to give healthy looking and youthful skin. This treatment is known to balance the hormones of women and deal with other vaginal related ills.
- Bee sting facial: The venom from the bee sting is extracted and infused with other ingredients to make a mask known to tighten up the skin and prevent wrinkling and puffy eyes.
- Fire facial: This is done by literally setting fire to the face. A cloth is placed on the skin and the fire is set to the cloth which is specially prepared not to completely burn into ashes and cause harm to the skin.
- Cryotherapy: this is a pain treatment which involves subjecting the body to insanely low temperatures to deaden some skin cells and for overall strength boost as used by football star Cristiano Ronaldo. Some cryotherapy facials exist to get rid of unwanted wrinkles and keep the skin rejuvenated and fresh.
- Snail facial: Others may find the slimy liquid (mucin) excreted by snails as disgusting, but it has been known to have antiaging properties. Users allow snails to glide their faces and “massage” the mucin in for that youthful effect.
- Slap facial: This is as literal as it sounds. The faces of users are subjected to pinches and minimal slaps and hits. This is known to make the skin breathe by opening up the pores and getting rid of unwanted oil clogging in the skin.
Cool sculpting is also an invention that moves body fat from unwanted places and gives the desired body shape without surgery.
Cosmetic surgery is another invention which is used to modify the body as desired. Some of the forms include breast augmentation, lifts and reduction, facial contouring, butt implants amongst others. These procedures are extremely expensive and painful and require a long time to heal and get used to.
In more recent times, there have been some inventions in line with the massive growth in interest for all things makeup such as lip and eyebrow permanent tattooing which make the individual have well-made eyebrows and lips even without makeup. More temporary ones include micro blading for eyebrows, eyebrow and lash extensions amongst others that keep popping up with each passing day.
Many women end up getting their dream bodies and faces from these procedures, however, there are grave consequences like death when they are not properly done. Others also get deformed bodies which can never be reversed and get scarred for life. It’s a big risk to undergo these procedures and nothing beats natural beauty.