Anyone who’s had a basic education knows that things are no longer like they used to be throughout history. The way we look, dress, talk, eat, think, and just overall live can change drastically within a year! Ever look at an old picture of yourself and realize just how mortified you are with the way you used to live? Spending time reminiscing on the past and the way you used to live can always be enjoyable. It’s nice to feel a sense of nostalgia and wish things were as simple as they used to be. It sometimes seems as though the past was always easier and the future holds nothing but terror, right?
Well, after looking at these next 15 photographs, you might think differently. Although the future is definitely terrifying, the past is arguably just as bad. Sure, it’s scary to think of a time that we didn’t have Google at the drop of a hat or a time when drive-thru fast food and delivery services like GrubHub weren’t easily available. But to think of how our ancestors really used to live is more than a little bit spine-chilling. We can easily look at the past and dismiss it as a case of people just not knowing any better, but the fact of the matter is, people probably did, they just didn’t care.
Sure, we don’t know everything there is to know, but it just seems incredibly weird that our ancestors didn’t know any better than this! Here are 15 photos that show what used to be normal life but are actually terrifying now. Let us know what you think the strangest way people lived was!
15. Post-Mortem Photography
Post-mortem photography was the practice of taking a picture of your deceased loved one only after they had already passed. The process was expensive, time-consuming, and hard to access. You couldn’t just snap a photo in less than a second like how we can now. Photography was only available to those who had the resources to do so, and not many did. This meant that taking a picture would probably be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but many saw that as a chance to do it right after someone died! They would often place the loved one in a position so that they looked as though they were alive. This allowed them to remember their family member or friend exactly how they were up until the second they died. It seems like a rather morbid process, but to our ancestors, this was a completely natural way of life… or death.
14. Advertisements Showcase How Women Were Treated
You have to be a bit clueless to believe that the way we treat women, even in our modern, western society, is acceptable, but the way things used to be is even more terrifying. Advertisements like this show that the abuse of women in marital relationships was rather casual. At least in our current state, you can’t as easily get away with things like this. Posting a sexist advertisement will quickly make your business go viral, as social media allows for people to spread and share your harmful message in a matter of seconds. But in the past, it took a lot longer time to spread and then discredit damaging messages such as this. People could get away with things like this easier because of the old trope “that’s just how it is.” When men saw advertisements like this, even though the ad was a joke, it normalized their thoughts on abusive relationships and made women in these physically harmful marriages think it was a natural and acceptable way of life.
13. It Used To Be Harder To Control Rodents
Rats are filthy pests that don’t really seem to serve that much of a purpose other than to terrorize our homes and feed on our garbage. But they used to actually be a pretty dangerous species. They were responsible for spreading plenty of terrifying diseases that wiped out massive amounts of people. They also used to be a lot harder to control. Overall, humans have only gotten cleaner over our history. As you’ll see on this list, we have had some pretty filthy habits. That results in an increase in rodents. A lot of what we do now also wasn’t available decades ago. You can get your house sprayed against rodents and better building and insulation makes it harder for them to get in there in the first place. In a time when it was so crucial to control the rat population but so much more difficult, people would often gather in masses to take out these pesky rodents and attempt to control the population with their own two hands.
12. Freak Shows
Freak shows existed and thrived less than one hundred years ago, and that’s pretty scary to know. Even though we have our own modern way of exploiting vulnerable people with disabilities with the use of reality shows and viral videos, these freak shows showcased anyone who was different in a much less humane and far more damaging way. Many people who were underage or didn’t have the ability to fully consent to the torment and torture that awaited them were lured into these shows with the promise of fame and fortune. And those who were willing participants often had to deal with emotional and sometimes even physical abuse. Instead of educating people on humans who were a little different than them, it was OK to point and laugh. It didn’t matter as long as someone was raking in loads of cash. Nowadays, you could never get away with anything like this, so the fact that they went on for so long is pretty frightening.
If you want to see more scary freak show pictures, check out 15 Freak Show Photos That Will Haunt Your Dreams.
11. Sharing Bathwater
Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater?” That’s because, at one point, that was actually a possibility. We didn’t always have running water easily accessible, so not everyone could take their own individual bath. Many families would fill up one tub and take turns bathing. The eldest would usually go first, and everyone would follow until you got to the youngest, sometimes a baby. By the time that happened, the bathwater would be black from filth, so people came up with the saying as a joke, but also as a reminder that what they were doing was messed up. An even scarier result of not having running water was bed pans. People would keep these under their beds throughout the day and sometimes while they were sleeping and simply empty them in the morning! Next time you take a shower or enjoy a nice long, leisurely trip to “The John,” remember how lucky you are- because images like this are scary reminders of the small things we should be grateful for.
10. Personal Ads
If you’re single and lonely, you can make a profile on any number of dating sites and find a partner within a few days! It isn’t always that easy, but having the ability to post your picture online with a description is just that simple. But things didn’t always use to be that way. If you were looking for someone just a few decades ago, you would have to go as far as to buy a slot in the local newspaper and post your image and description. The worst part was that these weren’t always people who wanted long term relationships, but instead, were just looking for casual encounters. Now if you want to hook up, just swipe the same way as someone else does and you can have a willing partner at your house within hours. But if you really think about it, that option might not be better. What do you think? Would you ever post a personal ad in the newspaper?
9. Body Modification
We do some pretty crazy things to our bodies to look good. I mean even a small thing like shaving is a bit weird if you think about it. We have hair for a reason but we enjoy getting rid of as much as possible- just to possibly impress other people around us. But people decades ago took it much further than that. One example is the ancient practice of foot binding. This involved tightly wrapping your feet so that they would grow small like the ones above. The process first started with sex appeal, as it made feet tinier and help create defined muscles in the thigh and buttocks. As time went on, it became a tradition that the elite practiced. The process was extremely painful and difficult, but tradition prevailed. Hopefully we can learn from a terrifying historic picture like this that attaining beauty may be painful but it really doesn’t have to be that way.
8. “Panty Raids”
This picture shows the aftermath of one university’s tradition of a fraternity “Panty Raid” on a sorority’s house. Yikes. Nowadays, we hear stories all the time of different athletic, social, and political groups and clubs getting busted for inappropriate behavior on campuses all across the country. Nothing is quite as bad as this. I mean, to be fair, at the time, it was a tradition that the girls were probably in on and aware would be happening. But in reality, the idea of a panty raid is pretty disturbing. It’s the process of a dude breaking into an innocent girl’s house, going through her personal items, and stealing a pair of intimate clothing- all so he can do God knows what with it afterward. It may have been a fun and silly thing at the time, but if someone did that today, our society would probably be horrified.
7. Old Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgery today can be pretty freaky. But there’s no doubt that plenty of people in our society see it as a totally normal, everyday process. That was not the case over 100 years ago. Things in the medical field were a lot more difficult to do due to our limited knowledge of our own anatomy. A lot of people never really got cosmetic surgery simply to look good, many people actually needed it. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that is pretty easily treatable today if caught soon enough. But over 100 years ago, it used to eat away at your face, and many people lost their noses because of it. Someone had to come up with a way to hide a lack of the nose, or else you’d forever be known as that guy with Syphilis. One method they found to work to grow skin back on your face was to sew part of your arm skin to it. The skin would eventually grow, and you’d have your arm back to normal, just with a little scar. We wonder what Hollywood would look like now if this was still the only way to get a nose job…
6. Vintage Halloween Costumes
Costumes are all about thinking of a sexy version of something innocent or coming up with a funny way to display a creative pun or pop culture icon. But Halloween and other festivities that required costumes looked a lot different several decades ago. Before the popularity of television, people didn’t really have “sexy” or creative costumes to try and attempt. Instead, they stayed true to the real meaning of Halloween- to get spooked. OK, the real reason people wore costumes was to blend in with dead people, because Halloween is the one time of year that the deceased have the ability to walk the earth among the living. This meant wearing spooky costumes so that everyone looked scary, not just dead people. Well, as you can see in this picture, that method definitely worked. These costumes are absolutely terrifying. You could argue costumes are still scary today, just in a different way.
5. Chastity Belts
Everything today is about doing the deed. And many would agree, that’s not totally a bad thing. Sex is completely natural, but before the last couple of decades, it has always been seen as a sin; something disgusting, and that no one should do unless you were trying to have a baby. In order to prevent unmarried singles from having sex and even masturbating, people would place chastity belts on them. But in reality, chastity belts were damaging to people’s skin, and they could also easily slip out if they were tricky or desperate enough. The truth is, however, that people were this crazy about preventing people from doing something that they were arguably created to do. If we heard a story now about a father trying to put a chastity belt on his daughter, the country would go wild! We still aren’t as open about sex as we should be, but things definitely aren’t as crazy as they used to be.
4. Medical Experiments
Even up to this exact point in time, we don’t know everything there is to know about our anatomy and how to treat it. We pour millions of dollars every day into researching every aspect of our lives in order to allow us to live as long and healthily as possible. We’re doing a pretty decent job, but it took a lot of work to get to that point. And it wasn’t always all fun and games in the medical field. We’ve messed up a lot and done some pretty disturbing things to get to this point. Humans have been poked and prodded for centuries in hopes of getting closer to a solution to our most messed up problems. But at least in our current time, we know well enough to know what is and isn’t humane or acceptable to do to a patient. And at least some medical experiments pay big bucks instead of just being done on minorities or other poverty stricken populations.
3. Headless Photography
Nowadays, you can see pretty much any image you can imagine online. And if you’ve ever tried, you can find some pretty terrifying stuff. So it comes as no surprise, then, that ever since the first photographs came out, people have been tampering with them in order to try to get spooky effects. And it worked. Headless photography became a popular phenomenon when the first camera was invented. It involved the process of taking two photographs and putting parts of each negative together in order to create a totally new image. The result was something like this, which involves the whole family. A picture like this is way more terrifying than any Photoshopped image we see now. If you look at a vintage photograph, it’s harder to decipher whether or not it’s real or faked. Knowing they didn’t have the technology to alter the image in post-photo makes us just assume that it’s real! But even our ancestors liked to trick us out.
2. Animal Skin Condoms
You can buy a condom pretty much anywhere. They even give them out for free at plenty of health clinics, schools, or other liberally aware locations that care about maintaining a low and healthy population. Even though, as this list proves, we used to be pretty messed up about some of our ideas and morals… We’ve always been interested as a human race in protecting ourselves against STDs and unwanted pregnancies. But condoms weren’t always so easily accessible. Condoms didn’t even always exist. We’re still working to improve the perfect condom that will hold up against the dangers of sex while still allowing maximum pleasure. But you can’t argue that we’ve come a long way from using animal skins and intestines as a preventative measure! People used to think the best material for condoms was to use animal intestines! Nothing could possibly be a bigger mood killer than having to slip on an animal intestine right before getting it on! Let’s be grateful for the things we have today.
1. Mourning Jewelry
We saw in the beginning that people loved taking pictures of their dead loved ones the moment after they died. But arguably creepier than that was the ancient practice of wearing your loved one around your neck at all times! People used to love to take mostly the hair, but sometimes even the skin, of loved ones, and put it in jewelry such as a necklace, brooch, pocket watch, or any other piece of jewelry one could dream up. People enjoy wearing some freaky things nowadays, but your dead loved one isn’t a very popular option. Remember when Angelina Jolie wore Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck and everyone lost their minds? While this may have been a beautiful way to mourn, a lot of people would probably think of it as downright terrifying if you tried to do something like this now.