234: Backwoods Beauty Treatments

Before city cosmetics reached the Ozarks people knew of a lot of herbal preparations and folk wisdom for insuring you’re looking your best. So, if you’re willing to eat a whole, raw chicken heart, or touch a dead man’s hand, follow these beauty prescriptions from Vance Randolph’s “Ozark Magic and Folklore”:

“Dew, or dew and buttermilk, or various mixtures of honey and buttermilk are recognized remedies for roughened skin and pimples on the face and neck.”

“Rain water caught on the first day of June is supposed to clear up muddy complexions and eliminate freckles.”

“The fresh blood of a chicken that of a black pullet in particular is also said to remove freckles and make the skin white and creamy.”

“Fresh tomato juice is a very fine bleach for darkened skins, although some girls prefer to rub their arms and faces with cucumber pulp just before going to bed. Mrs. Addah Matthews, of Monett, Missouri, says that Ozark girls used to apply sassafras tea to their faces, in the belief that it would benefit their complexions.”

“A few years ago, girls came to believe that a poultice of fresh cow dung removes freckles, makes the skin soft and fresh, and greatly improves the feminine complexion. A pretty woman in Crane, Missouri, told me that she and her chum made thick masks of cow dung and wore them for hours at a time. ‘It drawed up my face,’ she said, ‘till I couldn’t hardly move a eye-winker!’”

“The dirty water from a blacksmith’s tub, in which hot horseshoes have been tempered, is famous as a lotion for a spotted or muddy complexion.”

“It is proverbial that the winds of March are bad for the complexion: March winds and May sun / Make clothes white and maids dun.”

“Many mountain women say that to eat chicken hearts, especially raw chicken hearts, will make any girl good looking; I know one poor damsel who ate them for years, but without any benefit so far as I could see. May Stafford Hilburn says that in her section of the Ozarks the girl must swallow the chicken heart not only raw but whole! In Cassville, Missouri, a woman told me that to swallow a raw chicken heart at one gulp may not make a girl beautiful, but it will render her sexually attractive, so that ‘she can git whoever she wants.’”

“The touch of a dead man’s hand is popularly supposed to discourage moles, blackheads, enlarged pores, and other facial blemishes. I have seen a little girl, perhaps three years old, dragged into a village undertaking parlor and ‘tetched,’ in the belief that a large red birthmark on the child’s face might thus be removed.”

Comments are closed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: