Trading Comfort for Corsets

I came across a video of one of Tira Banks’s daytime television shows and I was instantly drawn in.  Historically, in the Victorian era (1830’s to early 1900’s), women would wear corsets on a day to day basis.  It was a staple in the upper class culture of the time.  No woman of breeding would be caught dead not wearing her corset. The women in this video have embraced that culture again and some people gawk and think, “why!?”

I personally think that the woman in blue went a little overboard, but historically, that is how women wore corsets.  That is what was considered desirable and beautiful at the time.  The woman in the yellow corset seems to be much more reasonable by today’s standards.  When I first started college a long time ago, I joined the SCA, Society for Creative Anachronisms.  We sewed and wore our own corsets, danced in them, rode our horses in them, and one women I knew actually wore a suit of armor over hers and jousted in it at the Renaissance Faire.  It was a lot of fun.  We’d have drinks and dance around fires and go to costume balls and when I was dressed up and I was being twirled around in a waltz on the dance floor, I felt a lot more like a woman because I had a tiny waist and I was in a ball gown and what woman wouldn’t feel sexy and desirable?  So why do we do this?  Some people say that corsets are “uncomfortable, it’s impossible to breathe, why torture yourself that way?”  I would refute these statements and say that it’s something that once you are used to it, it’s not at all uncomfortable but the real issue is WHY.  And the reason is because it makes some women feel more beautiful, more desirable. Some women want the hourglass figure that so many men still favor and they are willing to strap themselves into said torture devise to do it.  Look at the images of these women.  Some of these women, like Selma Hayak, Halle Barry, and Megan Fox, have a lot of power just because of their sex appeal.

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However, in shows like Toddlers and Tiaras (see the following video), it makes me wonder if we are still teaching our little girls “in order to be beautiful, you need to look like “this””.  That is a bit overboard for a 10 year old if you ask me.  But in older women, advertisements like for Frederick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret, they tell us “in order to keep your man, you need to look like “this””.  We women buy into it, myself included.  But you don’t see men often complaining when they see a woman in a corset and heels.  They aren’t saying, “Awe man, not another one.”

Cross-culturally, a woman with curves is a desired “commodity” in society- even if the curves are enhanced artificially.  I’m all for women looking like women.  Feeling good, high self-confidence/self-esteem.  And in my personal opinion, feeling sexy/desired is a huge part of that.  If animals can use flashy colors and gimmicks to attract a mate, why can’t we!?


About jenahmoody

I am a wife and mother. I am a former Fire Controlman in the US Navy. I am a Criminal Justice major at Old Dominion University. I love to cook and watch movies with my family.
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5 Responses to Trading Comfort for Corsets

  1. karlishavb says:

    I am all for women wanting to feel sexy. I hope if they are doing things to feel sexier it’s for them and not just to catch or keep a man. I think corsets are sexy and beautiful if worn reasonably, but I have to wonder what happens to your internal organs if you wear it like the lady in the blue corset? It just looks uncomfortable and painful.

    • jenahmoody says:

      Well apparently the lady in blue had been transforming her waist over the course of 50 or so years. So she said it was never painful. And her husband, in the video, is an orthopedic surgeon and they did x-rays on her chest cavity and, just like when a woman is pregnant, her organs have shifted to accommodate her waist line. According to him, she is completely healthy, although she did have to have c-sections when she had her babies.

  2. taniabiaa says:

    I learned about this in Sociological Theory, it goes back to Harriet Martineau talking about corsets. She has a corset anology, she states that, “Put a corset, even a loose one, on a vigorous man or woman who never wore one, and there is intense discomfort, and a vivid consciousness therefore…” It is simply saying that the corset reflects the constraints placed on women. He are here to “look good to mean” only. Now, do I think corsets are a good idea, absolutely not, but to each its’ own. Woman, have a certain look that they want to go for, slender body and a slim waste. Not all women were born that way, but still continue to get surgery or wear corsets. It’s all about sexy appeal and how you please a mans eyes.

  3. renatepavusa says:

    I personally dont think there is anything wrong with trying to look “sexy” wether it be for your man or for yourself. These days of course there are men that are attracted to that hour glass figure but not all men, and its not like you HAVE to look sexy. I know many of women that have boyfriends/husbands that could care less and dont expect them to go all out everyday and strive to “look sexy”. I know nothing about the victorian era but the lady on the first video made a choice to wear that corset she seemed as if nothing would ever change her mind on the path she was going with wearing the corset. But I don’t think this had to do with society telling her she would be “sexy” only if she did this. Power to her though she is an attractive woman and that is what shes into, I personally wouldn’t be able to do that. Oh and I’m probably the only one thats going to say this but i love the toddlers and tiaras show. Dont get me wrong, I think it is crazy when parents tell their children they are not good enough and allow them to talk back and be rude. On the other hand not all of them behave that way and it does improve confidence and another form of “dress up” you could say. If the parents want to go spend all of their money on their children they can go right ahead.

  4. jraez says:

    I have a real problem with this. No matter how sexy a woman may think she looks in a corset, it is a fact that corsets move internal organs over time. That’s how the woman in blue could get her waist that tiny. They are dangerous. It’s sad that the pursuit of beauty has led women to take such extreme measures. I don’t understand why you think that it is ok for adult women to internalize these beauty norms but not to enforce them on their children. If I truly believe that wearing a corset will make me beautiful, then I would put my child in one while I was trying to make her beautiful. It’s a natural step.

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