The History of the Corset Essay

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Throughout history, a person’s economic and social rank could be shown through what clothes they wore. In ancient Egypt, a person of upper class was permitted by law to wear sandals on the harsh, desert floor. Because of these laws, female-confining ideals arose. For example, the Greeks and Romans controlled the type, color, and number of undergarments worn by women and the kind of fabric décor used on them. The torso became the sculpting block of feminine beauty. This was the beginning of the corset, a restraining, essential item in the women’s attire through the 19th century.

During the Renaissance period, the corset resembled a cone, as it was small at the waist and uplifting at the bosom. It extended from the underarm to just below
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A small waist was still considered “proper” and feminine, and women were still judged by their waist size.

The Romantic period introduced a corset that was more severe than the others. Women were expected to compress their waist to equivalent measurements of 1/3 their natural body size. This kind of daily restraint ruined internal functions in the extreme. Stomach and internal problems were common.

Barbie, the modern day popular children’s doll, is an example of what is considered to be perfect. If Barbie were life size, she would have to walk on all four limbs just to balance. She would be seven feet and two inches tall with a neck two times the size of an average female’s neck. She would have a 39-inch chest and 21-inch waist. The chest and waist measurements resemble what was expected of women in the Romantic period.
Today, a “Barbie” would be sent to the doctor for treatment of anorexia and plastic surgery on the chest.

In the 1860s, churches began to reject the idea of a corset. The reason for this was stated in the bible: “Instead of a girdle there should be a girding sackcloth, and burning instead of beauty.” Health critics also began to notice the demented female bodies. The expected waist size was 17 inches to 21 inches. Although opposed, men and women still felt it necessary for women to maintain a small waist. Therefore, no change was made to the disorderly custom.

In the…

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