The corset, a tool of empowerment.

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When you think of corsets you tend to think of a woman in the 18th to 19th century in a gown, with a perfect hourglass figure. Personally, a scene from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (the first one) comes to mind. Elizabeth had gotten ready that day with some assistance from someone that was angry with her and he tied her corset really tight. Later that day, she fainted and fell off the balcony into the ocean. That is a very dramatic example but I couldn’t imagine wearing something that form fitting. The thought of wearing something that is uncomfortable so that my body will look exactly like every other woman is not on my mind. As a result, a woman is a product, molded and formed to uphold the correct shape to fit society’s standards. No thank you.
In this article the writer focuses on a book called “Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present and Myself” written by Sarah Chrisman. In this book, Chrisman is given a corset as a birthday present from her husband. Politely she tries it on and is surprised by the way she enjoys wearing it and the way it made her feel. She explains that it not only gave her the desirable hourglass figure but it helped correct her posture. She then explains that it also helped her to know when she was full after a meal and to avoid over-eating.
Chrisman like any other modern day woman in her thirties was skeptical of wearing a corset. Chrisman had always loved everything about the victorian era, except the corsets. Since receiving the corset, Sarah and her husband Gabriel have fully embraced the 19th century in her everyday life. The Chrisman’s then got rid of all of their modern day clothes when they decided to fully embrace the Victorian era. She wears a corset everyday, and admits to sleeping in it as well. Chrisman does not have a driver’s license or a cell phone. It is ironic that she claims to have given up everything that modern day society consists of, yet she has a Facebook. She makes her own clothes from the same types of fabrics used in the 19th century to keep them authentic and not “costumey” as she puts it. She claims that her outfits may be restrictive, but she has never felt more liberating. Below is a picture of Sarah Chrisman in a coffee shop. It is interesting to notice her perfect posture compared to the women around her. With that being said, Chrisman has definitely proved her point about her perfect posture.

In a recent interview with Evening Magazine Chrisman better explains her story.  After one year of wearing the corset Chrisman’s waste line shrunk by ten inches. Studies have shown that when a person has a better posture they have a more positive outlook on life. Sarah Chrisman seems like a nice, genuine person and I encourage anyone to dress the way they want to. However, I’m not sure there has been enough information gathered on if and how the corset may or may not harm her body. Chrisman claimed that there has not been any evidence of the corsets affecting women or their health. After reading the original article I was intrigued by her story and decided to look further into the health risks of this vintage style. Dr. Natalie Azar from the Langone Medical Center in New York University explained here that the corset basically pushes the lungs and the heart within the rib cage. Dr. Azar then explains that studies have shown that long term wear of the corset will lead to heart problems, as well as tuberculosis, tumors and scoliosis.
Below are x-rays of the process of wearing a corset over time.

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One response to “The corset, a tool of empowerment.

  1. That’s very interesting. Great job looking at the multiple sides of this issue!

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