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.
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!?