Corsets: Damaging Woman’s Intelligence (1880)

Corsets: Damaging Woman’s Intelligence (1880)

“You must suffer to be beautiful.”

Steampunk corset as bodice, image: courtesy of Pinterest.

Today, as corsets are worn as a fashion statement (generally as a blouse or bodice), and by those reviving Victorian fashion in the form of Steampunk, we tend to romanticize the corset. While some are snug-fitting, most of us have no clue what torture actually wearing one might produce. I remember Mother combing my hair, wetting the ends, and rolling them in “pink, spongy rollers” to curl my hair and finding the process incredibly dull. I wanted to go play. (I was perhaps age 7 or 8 at the time). Mother’s response? “You must suffer to be beautiful.” She meant, of course, that some things women simply do for the benefit of appearing our best. I’m sure a lesson on patience resided in there somewhere.

Before we criticize Victorians for distorting their figures with whalebone corsets, let’s look at today’s torturous fashions.

Today’s fashionable shoes. Tortuous to wear? Anyone would honestly answer that yes, these (at $312 retail) are at best, “two-hour shoes” because, really, is the female foot MEANT to arch like that? Apparently so, because shoes such as these are STYLISH, therefore women wear them. Image: courtesy of Pinterest.

‘Nuf said.

The following vintage newspaper article was published in Kansas Farmer of Topeka, Kansas, on May 5, 1880. The article was syndicated from New York Times.

Dr. Richardson, of London, UK, was not the first nor the most outspoken against the dangers of the female corset.

Kansas Farmer of Topeka, Kansas on May 5, 1880. Part 1 of 5.

The wooden corset “chilled the ardor of the worldly-minded lover, who found no delight in the hard contact of wood.”…

Kansas Farmer of Topeka, Kansas on May 5, 1880. Part 2 of 5.

Kansas Farmer of Topeka, Kansas on May 5, 1880. Part 3 of 5.

Kansas Farmer of Topeka, Kansas on May 5, 1880. Part 4 of 5.

Kansas Farmer of Topeka, Kansas on May 5, 1880. Part 5 of 5.

Dr. Richardson was far from the only one to speak against tight lacing (corsets). Following an introduction to Heidi Vanlandingham’s new release, another article about the evils of tight lacing: Defect in Form. This blog article presents a publication from Chicago Daily Tribune (1897), wherein Dr. George F. Shrady of New York says “there is no physiological argument for the stay–X Rays reveal woman in all her deformity–No Beauty in the Human Lines Made by Artificial Compressions”.

Copyright © 2017 Kristin Holt LC

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