Did prostitute Gerda Puridle invent false eyelashes to, um… protect her eyes?


A prostitute named Gerda Puridle invented extended eyelashes in the 1880s.



In January 2021, the site will become America’s Best Pics divided a meme claiming that a prostitute named “Gerda Puridle” invented long eyelashes in the 1880s:


The woman in this picture wasn’t a prostitute, her name wasn’t Gerda Puridle, and the claim about the provenance of false eyelashes was made out of whole cloth.

The woman featured in this meme is Alice Regnault, a French actress and novelist who rose to prominence in the 1870s. This photo appears to have been taken by French photographer Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (better known as “Nadar”) circa 1879. It was included in a guide published a few years later entitled “Les Actrices de Paris” (The Actresses of Paris) by Emile Bergerat:


This is how Regnault was described in Les Actrices de Paris (translated via Google and edited for clarity): “An intelligent and flexible actress who, through dedication and hard work, has managed to escape the reputation of being a ‘pretty woman’ – where the Love of the masses held her in prison. This is how the fine and elegant Mademoiselle Régnault has proven itself for some time.”

While Regnault laid claim to titles such as actress, novelist, and journalist, she did not invent extended eyelashes. According to Beauty Magazine Marie Claire, people tinkered and beautified their eyelashes in ancient Egypt, although it wasn’t until the late 19th century that people discovered they could lengthen their eyelashes with human hair. An 1882 volume of “medical record” explained the process of making artificial eyelashes:

False eyelashes – Labouchere is actually saying Parisians figured out how to make false eyelashes. I’m not talking about the vulgar and well-known trick of darkening the rim of the eye with all sorts of dirty compositions, or the more artistic plan of doing it on the inside of the lid. No, they actually pull a fine needle, laced with dark hair, through the skin of the eyelid, forming long loops, and after the procedure, which is over – I’m told it’s painless – a magnificent dark fringe veils the coquette’s eyes . “


While the practice of artificial eyelash lengthening began in the late 1800s, it was not until 1911 that the first patent for an artificial eyelash was secured. Here’s a look at inventor Anna Taylor’s patent for false eyelashes:


Despite the fact that false lashes have been around since the late 1800s and Taylor filed for a patent in 1911, many people credit filmmaker DW Griffith with popularizing false lashes with his 1916 film Intolerance. The New York Times reported:

One day in 1916, while filming Intolerance, DW Griffith looked at an actress in a Babylonian costume and sensed something was wrong. Seena Owen’s eyes, he said, should be twice as big and “supernatural.” He ordered his wig maker to use hide glue to attach a pair of human hair eyelashes to Owen’s eyelids. “She walked into the studio one morning with her eyes almost swollen shut,” actress Lillian Gish, who also starred in the film, wrote in her memoir. “Luckily, Mr. Griffith had already filmed the important scenes.” Within a decade, false lashes had become standard equipment for actresses — and for flappers mimicking the “baby doll” eyes they saw on screen.

Gish claimed Griffith invented false lashes, but like many Hollywood legends, this one turns out to be not entirely true. In 1911, a Canadian named Anna Taylor received a US patent for the artificial eyelash; hers was a crescent of cloth planted with tiny hairs. And even before that, hairdressers and makeup artists tried a similar trick. A German named Charles Nestle (born Karl Nessler) made false eyelashes in the early 20th century and used the proceeds to finance his next invention – the perm. By 1915, Nestle had opened a New York City permanent salon on East 49th Street, with eyelashes as a sideline. Nestlé advertised false eyelashes as protection against the glare of electric lights and hired chorus girls to blink at customers. For some men of the time, it was as if a booby trap had been introduced into the war between the sexes. “If a pretty young thing gives you a misty look through her long, curling lashes, don’t fall for it until you investigate,” warned a columnist in 1921. “


In short, the claim that a prostitute named Gerda Puridle invented extended eyelashes is made entirely of whole cloth.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/prostitute-gerda-puridle-eyelashes/ Did prostitute Gerda Puridle invent false eyelashes to, um… protect her eyes?

Brian Ashcraft

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