I recently came across this not-very-well-researched blog post that got me thinking about the modern day perspective on corsets: specifically, how feminism has distorted everything about them in order to further its own agenda. For example, the author of that blog post asserts that corsets existed solely to make women appear skinnier, and she backs up that opinion with this lovely quote:
“Women wore special maternity corsets while pregnant. Women who had worn corsets since childhood or adolescence probably had weaker abdominal muscles and might have benefited from proper support, but maternity corsets were not specially designed for support. Instead, the corsets were designed to mask, even minimize, the size of the pregnant body.” (emphasis mine)
Probably. The word ‘probably’ means, “I’m making this up to support my own biased opinion, and I have no clue what I’m really talking about.” Everything that comes before and after the word ‘probably’ should be dismissed wholesale. Whereas feminists rely on weasel-worded supposition when slandering corsets, actual period depictions of women wearing corsets show them engaging in vigorous physical activity, such as horse-back riding, which would have been categorically impossible if women were always two breaths away from passing out from oxygen deprivation.
Modern day feminists describe historic corsets as being torture devices used to keep women in oppression. In the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, the character Elizabeth Swan faints because her corset prevents her from being able to breathe, and everyone laughs and thinks, “Thank God we’ve moved on from such archaic practices.” Instead, we wear underwire bras that are uncomfortable, cause abrasions under the breast, and place a lot of weight on the shoulders, or plastic sausage skin “control garments”, which attempt to duplicate what corsets can already do better, without being hideous and full of plastic. We also have lots of unhealthy diets and exercise routines, coupled with the impossible expectation to be hourglass perfect without any effective aid — and we call this “liberation.” I guess that ‘liberation’ is the feminist code word for self loathing and despair.
In reality, corsets were a comfortable undergarment that provided support for the breasts and back (and stomach, with maternity corsets), and they reinforced good posture. They are more about creating the proper form than about creating tiny waists, and the practice of tight-lacing to create that tiny waist (think of that scene in Gone With the Wind) was actually rather rare. Personally I have never heard any complaints from anyone who wears Victorian style corsets these days, but plenty of women have described them as “comfortable”, “supportive”, and even “addictive.”
So why did we stop wearing them? The World Wars happened. During WWI corsets became horrendously expensive as the demand for steel skyrocketed, and the women of that day and age just couldn’t afford them, and although they regained some popularity in the ’20s, the second War quickly did away with them. After the Wars, our culture was too broken to have any sense of practicality, and by the time the shell-shock had worn off, feminists had managed to bowdlerize history into something more suitable for their agenda. As I’ve asserted before, feminists hate femininity.
If you’re interested in reading more about corsets, I recommend this article.