Slaves to their corsets (1887)

Original publication: Western Appeal (Saint Paul, Minn.) Date: October 08, 1887
Categories: 1880s, Beauty & fashion, Culture & lifestyle, Health & medicine, Newspapers
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Slaves to their corsets

The Lancet: It has always seemed to us to be somewhat of a satire on the work of nature that the female form should be thought to require the support of a corset in order to make it graceful. We observe, therefore, with satisfaction that ladies — and even young ladies — are here and there to be found who have, with equal courage and good sense, dispensed with this unnecessary aiticle of dress.

Among the majority who continue to wear it there are also signs, though less pronounced, of the same healthy tendency. Tight-lacing is viewed with much less favor than formerly. Women as well as men are coming to see that artificial slenderness is not beauty, and indeed the sham and unreason apparent in a figure wantonly contracted must create in all thinking persons a feeling of repugnance which effectualy prevents the possibility of admiration. Victims of this hurtful practice and grievous error in taste are still, however, not uncommon.

Only a few days ago, an inquest on the body of an elderly female revealed the fact that death was due to the direct consequence of her having the stays too tightly laced. This is by no means the first instance in which the coveted fineness of waist has been thus dearly purchased. It is, in fact, impossible that this custom can but injure health, for what are its effects?

By tight lacing, which forces together the elastic ribs and narrows the space within the thorax, free action of the lungs is obviously rendered impossible, the liver and heart are displaced, and the great blood vessels unnaturally stretched. The unfortunate worshiper of a false ideal loses with free respiration the due effect of the most powerful force which aids the heart in driving its blood through the body — the force of thoracic suction.

Displacement of the heart, moreover, can only result in palpitation or severer cardiac troubles. Thus it comes to pass that every organ and tissue is undernourished, digestion is little more than a meaningless term, and healthy life in any part of the body is unknown.

This may seem to be forcible language, but it is nevertheless the clothing of facts which it does not merely envelope, but in many cases fits with a strictness not incomparable to the firm embrace of the most fashionably straight corset.


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Source publication: Western Appeal (Saint Paul, Minn.)

Publication date: October 08, 1887


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