“… In fact, the tapeworm is the modern era’s first diet aid. The tapeworm diet got its start in the Victorian era when wealthy fashionistas began to look for ways to string those corsets tighter and tighter. Later, this weight loss method really picked up steam in the 1920′s when Flappers started to look for ways to get rid of those pesky, feminine curves.”
That. Is. SO. Disgusting.
Hah, tapeworm diet products are fascinating. There are a good number of legitimate ads for them (and the actual product sometimes) preserved, but it doesn’t appear to be a terribly common diet supplement. Not to mention that Victorian women largely were most interested in maintaining a “curvy” figure, so overall weight loss would have been a negative…anything that made their waist smaller while leaving the rest of their body, though? Non-working-class women would have been all over it. The Snopes article on it gives some great resources about all of this.
If anyone’s interested in the history and evolution of dieting, ideal beauty, and women’s views on their own body, including more about the “Tapeworm Diet”, you’ve gotta read The Body Project by Joan Jacobs Brumberg. It’s in most libraries, if you don’t want to buy it, but it’s really an excellent resource on the “perfect body” over the past 150 years or so.