Story of the Corset

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The Story of the Corset

The Victorian age saw the last great heyday of the corset, when the tinier the female waist, the more attractive a figure was considered. A girl's ambition was to be married before 21, with a waist measurement less than the years of her age.

In pursuit of this ideal, corsets were laced so tightly that numbness in the lower body and legs and even fainting were frequent occurrences, reinforcing the popular image of the female as a fragile, helpless creature. In reality, women had to be true stoics, enduring severe discomfort while remaining outwardly serene; it was considered disgraceful to show any distress, especially in front of the maid pulling on the laces, or in company. Even when sleeping, they did not escape, as a night-time model would often be worn, in order to maintain the waist reduction achieved during the day.

For the Victorians, with their repressed sensuality bubbling under the surface, there was more to all this masochism than the mere pursuit of fashion; in 1870, a reader of "The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine" naively wrote that "tight lacing produces delicious sensations, half pleasure, half pain". In an age of heightened prudery, the corset was in fact a socially acceptable method of self titillation!

It was also an acceptable method of torture; many of the trappings of this obsession with waist reduction would not be out of place in a modern dungeon; the unfortunate young girl being "figure trained" hung onto an overhead bar while mother and maid hauled on the laces; an extra long and tight corset was a favourite method of disciplining recalcitrant girls, sometimes with metal screws to tighten more than was possible with laces; a stocking needle might be placed in a schoolgirl's busk to improve posture - any drooping of the head would result in a sharp prick to the chin!

From  AX FORDS   






Up What Lies Within Story of the Corset Parasols

Corset Links

Mini History of the Corset
Diary of a Young Girl
Corset Prose
Assasin of the human race
Body Modification