By- Khushi Bisht
Corsets have existed for a very long time. It first originated in Italy and was brought to France in the 16th century by Catherine de Medici, King Henry II’s wife. She was a tyrant who forbade women with wide waists from entering court. This prompted rich women to wear their corsets in general.The corset was thought to be an excellent tool for making women look more slender and curvy.
The affluent French women of the period were considered to prefer a smaller waistline, which they accomplished by tightening and holding their waist into a perfect hourglass shape with corsets. There have been several modifications to the corset. It was originally were made of cloth, but upper-class women began to use whale bones to strengthen their bodies. Parts of metal and wood were attached to the fabric as it evolved.
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Wearing a snug corset was a way to demonstrate social standing throughout centuries. Since corsets were cumbersome and limited movement, they showed that the wearer was wealthy enough to employ workers to comply with daily activities. The Victorian era was a period when womanhood trumped versatility and socioeconomic status trumped easement.
The perfect corseted feminine form was all over the print media targeted at women by the mid-nineteenth century. It’s fashion became extremely serious in the 1860s and 70s. The hourglass figure hit its pinnacle in prominence during the Victorian era. The waist was shaped with metal boning.
That time saw a speedy industrial growth and mass manufacturing of corsets became popular, making these garments widely and easily available. Many that were not well-off may now purchase a corset as well.
It was, however, a painful method that often induced women to pass out and potentially distort their body structures. Corsets were highly risky due to their excessive tightness on the body. Women were frequently laced so tightly that their breathing became obstructed, causing them to pass out. The internal organs became so compressed, that it caused weak digestion. The rib cage was deformed as a result of prolonged tight lacing. In some cases the risk caused by wearing the corset also lead to death.
Napoleon Bonaparte, who came to fame after the French Revolution, fought to ban corsets, calling them “decline of humanity.” It became less fashionable by early twentieth century, as the natural figure began to make a resurgence. Improved apparel options emerged, which eliminated the need for corsets. As a result, corsets’ popularity faded with time.
With the emergence of feminism in the 1960s, the corset was gradually phased out.