Corsets and History

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.

6 thoughts on “Corsets and History

  1. I’m a bit confused here…you seem to be clearly against those “evil” feminists and their modern day underwire “control garment” bras. First of all, I’m not sure that these types of bras were invented or would even be endorsed by feminists. (And let’s please keep in mind that underwire bras are only one type of many different varieties of bras available – there are many other bras designed more for comfort.) And I don’t think that it’s just “feminist scholars” that have pointed out corsets’ role in helping to make women’s lives more difficult. But that’s a minor point.

    My real confusion is that you seen so passionately in favor of corsets. Really?? Modern underwire control garments are unacceptable, but corsets that have steel rods in them and were often made of whale bone are perfectly fine?!? This sounds like the antithesis of comfort. And the article that you linked doesn’t mention “comfort” in a positive way with these corsets at all. In fact, this article points out the fact that in many cases wearing a corset cause internal organs to be rearranged and moved. Causing your internal organs to be rearranged and moved in unnatural ways is preferable to modern day lingerie?? And then she tries to defend them at one point simply by saying that she can think of other things that cause problems (light headedness or even death). Is this an acceptable form of logic? This bad thing must not be bad because I can think of other bad things?!?

    I will agree with you that cultural and societal expectations for hourglass figures and being “sexy” is problematic. The idea that you must be beautiful at any cost (unhealthy diets and exercise routines, etc. as you point out) is not a good thing. Most feminists would agree. And I think that looking to modern bras as a cause of these expectations is a pretty big stretch.

  2. I am giving very serious consideration to the idea of showcasing your comment as an example of how most women think.

  3. Proudly exhibited here, one (1) end product of the modern society* & educational** system.

    *For a given value of ‘society’
    **Not educational

  4. I’m not sure exactly what it is you’re implying here…If my comment showcases the idea that modern lingerie is probably preferable to victorian era corsets, and that is an example of how most modern women think?

    If so, I suppose that’s fine, though I’m not sure what your overarching point would be (I assume that you said that in a mocking way, as though the modern women is some sort of dupe – it’s sometimes hard to gauge tone online…).

    PS. Just so you do know, I am not a woman, though if you find my comment useful in some way, then go for it.

  5. If a corset is fit properly than it isn’t uncomfortable. Also no where in the original post does it state that modern undergarments are “unacceptable” but that they have draw backs of their own. i believe you’re also proving the main point of this article for the author, which is simply twisting the facts to suit your own agenda does not make it true. The linked article stated that “tight lacing” (which is now called waist training) could have adverse affects. Tight lacing is wearing a specific type of corset laced as tightly as possible for long periods to permanently alter you natural shape. This practice is not comparable to a regular corset that is used for support and modesty only. The author of that linked article also stated that she could think of a number of things that would cause irritability or a red nose. And last but not least the author never blamed modern bras as a cause for unreasonable expectations.

  6. If you make any more sensible comments, I might have to think something nice about blog commenters; I’m not sure my poor heart could take the strain.

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