Shelved Dolls: Empress Sisi – Possibly The Strangest Woman That Ever Lived

Her skin was a whole other matter. We’ve already covered the veal mask, but it might surprise you to know that Sisi never wore any make-up. Because she was brave.

No, because she thought it interfered with the perfection nature had bestowed on her. She was incredibly critical of women who did. Of Princess Pauline von Metternich, who was often thought to be a beauty, Sisi said:

“She wears two inches of red powder on her lips and is dressed in material from countries that are far away even though she is too flat”.

This is what Princess Pauline looked like:

I think Sisi was being way harsh there. Never mind. Sisi wore no powder on her lips, though she did apply creams that could take upwards of 12 hours to prepare.

She also endured full body wraps made out of hay. I suppose when you think about it, while it seems uncomfortable, it’s probably no weirder than a lot of the spa treatments offered today. I’m sure you could, in fact, find a hay wrap somewhere.

One treatment that you may not be able to find is Sisi’s special slug cream, used to make skin soft. Except here. You can find it here. I found the recipe for you:

Put ½ kilo lard into water-bath

add 2 Quintchen (fifths) marshmallow roots

Add 70g ground slugs

Let it stand for four hours to cool off.

And then you just hop in, and it’s great, and not weird at all.

The olive oil baths Sisi took, on the other hand, are still used today, and actually do soften the skin. And Sisi did believe that vinegar was the cure for just about everything, and, actually, apple cider vinegar is considered a pretty popular treatment today, so she wasn’t wrong about everything. And hell, we’ll probably all be bathing in slugs in 20 years again, anyway, so… no it still seems weird. I think it’s the lard. I think it’s the lard aspect that makes it seem so weird.

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    • Lizzie

      Given that Albert II of Belgium is still alive and king of Belgium today, it’s pretty safe to say you got that one wrong. Way to check your sources!

      • Jennifer Wright

        You’re right, it’s Albert I of Belgium.

      • Kat

        Actually, it would’ve been Leopold I.

      • Trish

        Jeez….do you have to be so nasty? Mistakes happen.

    • NeuroNerd

      The Emperor of Austria was supposed to marry one of Crazy Duke Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria’s daughters because they were first cousins–their mothers were sisters. Franz Joseph’s mother believed she could better “control” her niece.

    • Kate

      Love this, as I love all the Shelved Dolls series. Please never ever stop writing them!

      • Nancy


    • Lynn

      actually the slug this is very popular in Asia, well it’s more snail than slugs. It’s called snail cream and it brightens the skin…check it out.
      But loved this articles, I love history especially weird history!

    • Lizzie (A Different One)

      I wonder where/how that type of personality would fit in nowadays. It seems like people have forgotten how to be properly eccentric. You never hear about celebrities strapping themselves to the front of ships- the most scandalous things they ever do is get married or cut off their hair. Tabloids would be so much more interesting if Sisi were around.

    • Cee

      There are pictures of her. She is so beautiful and such a tiny waist! It’s sad that she was murdered by someone who just wanted to kill a royal who wasn’t there and settled for her.

      • linda

        Please don’t judge all anarchists by the actions of a few idiots who use the name in vain – like all people, most of us abhor violence of any sort. Viva les Sisis! Viva les Dianas! Viva Daphne Guinness and viva Paris Hilton!

    • Amanda

      Thank you so much for writing about Sisi! So many people don’t know about her, and that lonely woman deserves some acknowledgement. Her story always saddens and jolts me; it’s incredible how relevant her problems are today.

    • lola

      Demel, not ‘Demsel’ is the patisserie in Vienna. They still make the candied violets, no chocolate just candied, and sell them in the most beautiful boxes.

    • linda

      Ms Wright this is the first article of yours I’ve read, and OH BOY! can the goil write! Loves it and itching for the next. xoxo

    • Lerie

      I imagine this is how Victoria Beckham maintains her lithe figure.

      • Jennifer Wright

        Secret duck blood vat. The Sun should really be on that.

    • Molly

      This series would make a great book. Any plans?

      • Jennifer Wright

        I am excited to accept you as my personal assistant! Please find an agent and publisher for me forthwith (I think Random House just seems more accessible than St. Martin’s, but either is okay by me!) You will be paid in glory and hilarious Miranda Priestly impressions.

    • Kate

      I really love reading this series

    • محمد عبد الكريم

      انها سيسى امرأة جميلة
      ولكن على حد علمى انها كانت
      تحتقن فى الوريد بالماكس لانها كانت مدمنة ياللهول

    • Miss M

      Love the series, but I’m pretty sure that the Ottoman Empire was “the sick man of Europe.”

      • Kat

        Yep, it was. I agree though, cool series!

    • Jules

      Sooo this is a ham that I saw at a supermarket in Romania recently. I have absolutely NO idea what Sisi has to do with ham!

      Under her picture is says that “Sissi is a very fine ham” :P

    • Kat

      Great article! And yes, it’s pretty much said that the Emperor gave her a venereal disease shortly after they were married, which had a huge impact on their marriage, naturally. History would end up repeating itself when their son, Crown Prince Rudolf gave HIS wife, Princess Stephanie, VD, and in this case, she was left unable to have anymore children.