Every culture around the world has its own old wives’ tales. Beliefs handed down from generation to generation that still persist to this day. Their main purpose is of course to instruct the younger members of the family, to warn them of potential dangers, and to advise them on the correct way of doing things. Most of them are complete and utter balderdash.
These superstitions still rule parts of our lives, and it’s about time we shed some light on their erroneous nature. Yes, very rarely some of them happen to be true, but mostly they are just straight-up funny. Here are 9 old wives’ tales that you shouldn’t believe in, compiled by Tiphero.
1. Shaving causes you to grow coarser and darker hair
Shaving any part of your body doesn’t really make the hair in that area to grow coarser and thicker. You may be fooled into thinking that only because of the stubble.
2. Long second toe means you rule!
People say that if your second toe is longer than the big toe, it means that you have a dominant personality. In terms of the household, it means a woman with toes like that is basically the one who wears the pants in the relationship. However, this is actually a medical condition called Morton’s toe. It has no influence or connection to your personality, but it can cause pain and callusing of the ball of the foot at the base of the second toe.
3. Plucking one gray causes more to sprout
People say that you shouldn’t pluck your gray hairs because that will cause two or three more gray hairs to sprout in its place. This is impossible because every hair has its own root, its own follicle. What you do to one follicle in no way affects its neighbors.
4. Swallowed gum will stay inside you for years
The swallowing gum myth isn’t unlike the one about Pop Rocks and soda messing up your insides: they’re both false. It doesn’t take seven years to digest a piece of gum; anything that isn’t processed gets sent down the other end. But you should still be careful when you give gum to children. If they swallow a large amount of it, it can accumulate and cause constipation.
5. Baby gender predictions
A lot of old wives’ tales revolve around pregnancy and determining the gender of the baby. Some say that it can be revealed by the type of food you’re craving: sweet means it’s a girl, salty and sour means it’s a boy. Another superstition is to swing your wedding ring on a string over the belly: if it goes back and forth it’s a boy, if it goes in a circle it’s a girl. You have the same chances of guessing the gender without these rituals as you have with them.
6. Urine cures jellyfish sting
Some people seem to think that the acid in the urine helps neutralize the pain and toxins from the sting. But this hasn’t been proven scientifically, and you might do more damage than good with this method. The best option is to use seawater and vinegar to alleviate the pain.
7. Swimming right after a meal is really bad
Swimming immediately after having eaten will cause you cramps or even make you drown. Basically, people think that since more blood is required in your stomach to deal with the digestion, it will increase the odds of your arm and leg muscles spasming or cramping. The truth is that your limbs are in no way affected by the digestive processes.
8. Drinking coffee stunts your growth
This tale says that the caffeine in the coffee leaches the calcium from your body, making you grow less tall. But since there are many tall people who drink coffee, and many children who have had coffee and haven’t suddenly stopped growing, it’s safe to assume there is no truth behind this. More importantly, no scientific studies have ever found a link between reduced levels of calcium or osteoporosis and caffeine.
9. Chocolate causes acne
Contrary to what your parents might have told you, chocolate doesn’t cause acne to break out. It’s the dairy and sugar load in your body that are the real problem. High glycemic foods make your levels of insulin and cortisol spike, which then leads to clogged pores and pimples. Chocolate isn’t easy to give up, but you could just go for dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao content.