Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897

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Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897

My recent post about corsets contained a syndicated article from New York Times, published in Kansas Farmer of Topeka, Kansas, on May 5, 1880:

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Kristin Holt | Corsets: Damaging Woman's Intelligence (1880). Related to: Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897.

The author, an eminent physician from London, England, explained why corsets were so damaging to a woman’s health. Specifically, he argued, to her brain-power. Dr. Richardson was far from the only authority who spoke loudly against the tight lacing of corsets–and corsets at all. I’ve read citations from other men in the late 19th century condemning the wearing of corsets, who admitted they could not persuade their own wives and daughters to forego the dangerous practice. Fashion had that tight of a hold over the women.

Nineteenth Century fashions, focused on how tiny the waist could be made (and made to appear), required tight lacing to gain the effects so eagerly sought.

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FASHION

Can you imagine?

Just how much pressure would have to be exerted upon a young girl’s ribs to force them to change their natural shape… and then to remain so constricted?

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Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. Vintage photograph of tiny corseted waist (shared on Pinterest). See link provided.

Tiny corseted waist. Image: Courtesy of Pinterest.

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ADVERTISEMENTS

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Throughout time, advertisements have always argued their side of the story… even when it’s largely lacking in scientific basis (or truth). Maternity Corset advertisements argued that such a contraption was necessary for a healthy baby and safe pregnancy. Most women wanted a healthy child and good outcome, so they continued to wear what their mother’s insisted upon: laces (corsets).

Dr. Warner’s Health Corset (with just what every woman needs:) skirt supporter and self-adjusting pads to secure health and comfort of body, with grace and beauty of form. All highly desirable outcomes. Even better– Three garments in one. (See the supporters referenced–skirt supporters distributed the weight of a woman’s skirt containing many yards of fabric to the shoulders, and many women also padded their bust and/or hips to greater achieve an hourglass figure.)

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Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. Vintage advertisement for Dr. Warner's Health Corset with skirt supporter and self-adjusting pads. From Staunton Spectator of Staunton, Virginia on January 2, 1877.

Dr. Warner’s “Health Corset”, advertisement published in Staunton Spectator of Staunton, Virginia on January 2, 1877.

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Ball’s Health Preserving Corsets, made/distributed by Chicago Corset Company, states in their newspaper advertisements, in the product’s name, that their corset preserves health. Who doesn’t want their health to last?

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Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. Vintage advertisement for Ball's Health Preserving Corsets made by Chicago Corset Company of New York and Chicago. Original ad from Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, New York on September 8, 1885.

Ball’s “Health Preserving” Corsets, advertised in Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, New York on September 8, 1885.

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BUT SCIENCE SAYS…

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Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. Two sketches from 1884 depicting what, at the time, was believed the way the inside of the body looked when wearing a corset (also a natural female midsection), including distortion of organs.

Two sketches from 1884 depicting what, at the time, was believed the way the inside of the body looked when wearing a corset. Image: Wikipedia, Public Domain.

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AND DRESS REFORMERS…

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Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. Quote from 'Dress Reform', 1874, Part 1.

Quote from Dress-Reform, 1874, Part 1

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. Quote from 'Dress Reform', 1874, Part 2.

Quote from Dress-Reform, 1874, Part 2

~ Dress-Reform: A Series of Lectures Delivered in Boston, on Dress as it Affects the Health of Women. Edited by Abba Goold Woolson. With Illustrations. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1874

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. Image of Title Page from 'Dress Reform: A Series of Lectures Delivered in Boston on Dress as it Affects the Health of Women.', 1874.

TITLE PAGE, Dress-Reform: A Series of Lectures Delivered in Boston on Dress as it Affects the Health of Women, 1874.

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ONE MORE VOICE OF REASON

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The following article, published in Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois, on April 24, 1897:

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Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 1 of 10)

1 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 2 of 10)

2 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 3 of 10)

3 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 4 of 10)

4 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 5 of 10)

5 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 6 of 10)

6 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 7 of 10)

7 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 8 of 10)

8 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 9 of 10)

9 of 10. Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897.

Kristin Holt | Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897. From Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897: Shows Defect in Form... may induce women to drop corsets. (Part 10 of 10)

Chicago Daily Tribune of Chicago, Illinois on April 24, 1897. Part 10.

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Related Articles

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Kristin Holt | Corsets: Tight Lacing! 1879. Related to: Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897.

Kristin Holt | Corsets: Damaging Woman's Intelligence: 1880. Related to: Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897.

Kristin Holt | Corsets in the Era: Yes, even Maternity Corsets. Related to Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897.

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Defect in Form: Evils of Tight Lacing (a.k.a. Corsets), 1897
Updated August 2020
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