1670 Marriage Act

In 1670, the British Parliament under Charles II passed the following remarkable Act:

"Be it resolved that all women, of whatever age, rank, profession, or degree; whether virgin maids or widows; that shall after the passing of this Act, impose upon and betray into matrimony any of His Majesty's male subjects, by scents, paints, cosmetics, washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, or bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the laws now in force against witchcraft, sorcery, and such like misdemeanours, and that the marriage, upon conviction, shall stand null and void."

["Medieval noblewomen swallowed arsenic and dabbed on bats' blood to improve their complexions; 18th-century Americans prized the warm urine of young boys to erase their freckles; Victorian ladies removed their ribs to give themselves a wasp waist. The desire to be beautiful is as old as civilization, as is the pain that it can cause."]

[Cleopatra painted her lower eyelids green and her upper lids blue-black. She also used cucumber juice as a skin moisturizer and, according to legend, had her mattresses stuffed with fresh roses.]

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