Corset Myths Confronted
Fans of my book Victorian Secrets may recall the account in Chapter 23 of our visit in 2009 to a small museum exhibit on the history of women's fashion, specifically focusing on undergarments. The museum recently revived this temporary exhibit and invited us to attend and speak as guest lecturers on Saturday. While we were there we debunked a number of common myths about corsets and answered questions about what it's like to wear one on a daily basis, as well as what they truly meant to women of the past. We gave out a little pamphlet about corset myths vs. reality, containing a number of quotes transcribed directly from 19th-century sources so that the people of the past were given a chance to speak for themselves. What follows is a digitized version of that pamphlet —enjoy!
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"Her life was a happy one. Bear this in mind—and don't forget that your conditions of happiness need not necessarily be her conditions also."
"[P]roperly constructed, corsets are, as articles of dress, the most beneficial that can be constructed."—Madame Roxey A. Caplin, Health and Beauty: Women and Her Clothing, 1864. p. 82.
"The principal writers upon the subject of Corsets have been… men, who, great as is their knowledge of their part of the question, certainly know nothing of ours; and hence what they have written has been almost entirely without practical utility." —Madame Roxey A. Caplin, Health and Beauty: Women and Her Clothing, 1864. p. viii.
"I refuse to accept a hypothesis predicated on the assumption that women are victims." —Sarah A. Chrisman, 2018.
In a seaport town in the late 19th-century Pacific Northwest, a group of friends find themselves drawn together —by chance, by love, and by the marvelous changes their world is undergoing. In the process, they learn that the family we choose can be just as important as the ones we're born into. Join their adventures in
2/22/2018 11:08:16 am
Such an excellent article! We need to stop stereotyping our ancestors. As far back as I know of the women in my family have intelligent, driven and not easily made to do anything they didn't want to. Your sources, visual and written, leave little doubt that corsets were much loved by Victorian women who had all sorts of demands and expectations of them.
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