9 Old Wives’ Tales that Need to Retire

Stretching across cultures and millennia are old wives’ tales. We’ve all heard them and we’ve all probably uttered a few to the next generation. They’re fun. Some are true. And some are hilariously untrue.

In your own life, think of some of the tales your parents, grandparents, or friends have told you that either scared you straight, made you question your decisions, or flat out made you crack up. We’re sharing some old superstitions that aren’t true, but still have true believers out there. Feel free to pick a team.

  1. Shaving Too Much Grows a Hair Forest

    Leg, beard, upper lip hairs – you name it – are all bound for a thicker, coarser, meaner, grow-back. Not so. After you shave, it’s the stubble that fools you into thinking your hair is darker and thicker.

  2. Long Second Toe Makes You a Boss

    In general, it’s said that a second toe that’s longer than the big toe indicates a dominant personality in someone. To stretch out that tale, women with a longer second toe are the dominators in their households (and over their husbands).

    There’s actually a name for this and it’s called Morton’s toe. What it means is that you have a foot disorder that can cause pain and callus formation under the second toe’s head.

  3. Pluck One Gray and You’ll Have a Garden of Them in Your Head

    You know that it seems like pulling one gray hair results in two or three sprouting up in its place. What really happens is that a single hair grows out of a single follicle. Each gray has its own root!

  4. Swallowing Gum Will Gum Up Your Guts for Years

    This is like the urban legend about Pop Rocks and soda messing up your insides. Contrary to pop culture belief, a piece of gum does not take seven years to digest. What your body doesn’t process gets sent down the chute. What can occur however, is an accumulation of gum causing constipation in children. Be watchful that your kids aren’t swallowing loads of gum over time.

  5. Baby Gender Predictions

    There are many tales about pregnancy and baby gender. One of them is when you crave sweet foods, you’re carrying a girl. If it’s salty and sour you want, then you’re carrying a boy. Another involves swinging a string over the belly and reading its direction. Since you’ve probably tested some of these, you can let us know how you’ve fared.

  6. Jellyfish Sting Urine Cure

    How many of you have tried to pee on a jellyfish sting? People assume that the acid in urine will neutralize the pain and toxins from the sting. There’s been no science to back this up and urine may worsen the pain from stingers. Instead, it’s recommended to use sea water or vinegar to relieve pain.

  7. Swimming Right After a Meal Will. . .

    Eating before swimming will cause cramps or a horrible drowning death. Everybody’s heard this one! This tale rests on the theory that digestion requires more blood flow to the stomach, increasing the chance of your swimming muscles cramping or seizing up. In reality, your arms and legs aren’t affected.

  8. Drinking Coffee Stunts Your Growth

    A commonly held belief is that the consumption of coffee will leach calcium from the bones, causing one’s height to be shorter. Have you never seen a tall coffee drinker? How many coffee-drinking children do you know who stopped growing? Ponder that entire image for a moment.

    Silly, right? Some of the myth draws from caffeine and its effect on calcium levels on the body. However, no studies have been done that link reduced calcium or osteoporosis with caffeine.

  9. Chocolate Causes Acne

    Who has parents that told them eating chocolate causes acne outbreaks? It’s impacted you so much that you eat chocolate sparingly. As it turns out, it’s not the chocolate that’s the problem but the sugar and dairy load in the body. Insulin and cortisol hikes from high glycemic foods contribute to clogged pores and thus, pimples. If you’re still on the fence, reach for some dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao.

Some old wives’ tales will never die. Thanks to believers and old wives themselves who keep spreading them, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. For some, we’ll just have to wait until science proves us wrong.

What other old wives’ tales are you clinging to? Have any of them panned out to be true? Or false?