SNARK WEEK: Corset Whining

45

Support Frock Flicks with a small donation! During Snark Week and beyond, we’re grateful for your monthly pledges for exclusive content via Patreon or your one-time contributions via Ko-fi or PayPal to offset the costs of running this site. You can even buy our T-shirts and merch. Think of this like supporting public broadcasting, but with swearing and no tax deductions!

 

 

Ah, the venerable tradition of corset whining! All three of your Frock Flicks writers have worn corsets, sometimes for twelve hours or longer per day, sometimes for multiple days in a row. And we can tell you what any corset wearer who has any conception of historical ideas about female bodies can tell you: THEY’RE NO BIG DEAL.

Does a corset constrict you? Sure, sort of along the lines of the feeling you have in your arm when you’re having your blood pressure measured! Restrict your breathing? Sure, slightly! But we’ve all done HIGHLY aerobic dance in corsets, and let me tell you, there was no fainting involved. (Check out this video of the hugely popular 16th century “Volta” dance if you don’t believe me, or this short documentary about English Country Dance. I performed with an English country dance troupe for two years, and I danced with the energy equivalent to jogging with no problems — in a corset). Does it feel good to take off your corset? Sure, along the lines of taking off a bra or tight clothing!

Why do modern people assume corsets must be truly agonizing to wear? A large part of it comes from the late nineteenth century dress reform movement. According to an excellent review article in the Chronicle of Higher Education,

“Feminist dress-reformers blamed corsets for sapping women’s strength and keeping them from achieving equality with men… [while] 19th-century medical reports that attributed diseases as varied as tuberculosis, breast cancer, scoliosis, and prolapsed uterus — not to mention hysteria, insanity, and ‘impure desires’ — to tight-lacing.”

Unfortunately, these arguments have been taken at face value by many scholars. Fashion historian Valerie Steele writes, “Historians who would never accept medical accounts of the dangers of masturbation (causes blindness and insanity) or female education (sucks the blood from the uterus to the brain with appalling results) become perversely credulous whenever fashion is the subject of medical anathema.”

Another reason has to do with changing perceptions and expectations about bodies, particularly those of women. Historically, from the sixteenth century through the nineteenth, clothing for men and women featured varying levels of structure. There was no particular expectation of comfort, and the goal of clothing was rather to create a virtuous, appropriately sumptuous (to your class station), and beautiful (to contemporary eyes) appearance. Moreover, for women, corsets created a fashionable silhouette and what historian Susanne Scholz calls a “‘defensive wall’ around the female body,” which, she argues, “so sartorially supply the rigid body boundaries that are the preconditions of proper subjecthood in the West but which are found to be lacking in the ‘natural’ bodies of women” (“English Women in Oriental Dress,” in Early Modern Encounters with the Islamic East: Performing Cultures).

Meanwhile, although nowadays we generally have an expectation of physical comfort in our clothing, we have essentially internalized the corset. Instead of using our clothing to create a fashionable shape, we now have the expectation that our bodies should be “naturally perfect” through diet and exercise. (Although how many of us who wear bras, for example, rip them off the minute we get home? We still balance comfort with what is considered socially acceptable).

Costume designer Alexandra Byrne weighed in on this issue:

“I’ve been asked a lot about corsets and discomfort and I would say number one, a bespoke corset — a corset which is made for you — there is no reason in the world why that corset should not be comfortable… I think it’s a very easy soundbite to say, ‘my corset was agony,’ and people sort of want to hear that. But a bespoke corset really should be comfortable. There is something marvelous in feeling that sense of relief when you’re let out of it at the end of the day, but that’s not to say that you’re in excruciating agony when you’re wearing it.”

(Although I will note that I have worn both custom and standardized/sized corsets, and while the custom is lovely, they’re both FINE).

It’s also worth noting that corsets cannot, in fact, reduce your shape any more than your individual body type will allow. Meaning, unless you are doing serious waist reduction training, your corset isn’t going to reduce the size of your ribs. So those with less body fat generally have less reshaping than those with more.

With all that, let us all scoff at actresses whining about corsets!

 

Suranne Jones

According to Gentleman Jack costume designer Tom Pye:

“Tom told us that Suranne Jones, who played titular star Anne Lister aka Gentleman Jack, ran into problems with her corset and it started giving her hives. ‘Suranne, because she was doing so much physical work like jumping up and down on carriages and jumping over walls and striding everywhere, she did begin to get damage from the corset,’ he revealed. ‘Normally in period dramas you’re normally just sat down and looking pretty, but because Suranne was moving around a lot we ended up having to remake her corset and changing it to a ballet corset by putting stretch panels in it to make it movable. She was getting welts in the original one from really bad friction. You can’t really jump up and down wearing a corset” (Back Into The Closet).

I'm sorry, that's fucking bullshit GIF

 

Ruth Wilson

“When unknown actress Ruth Wilson was chosen for the role of Jane Eyre, she…found herself in agony after being forced to wear a tiny 15-inch waist corset. Suffering with rashes and skin burn, the drama school graduate had to be issued with a new corset every two weeks. ‘Poor Ruth was in constant pain,’ said a BBC insider. ‘She is naturally a very slender size 10 but the 15-inch corset that wardrobe gave her was simply minuscule and utterly restrictive. Three people had to ease her into it every day and she had to breathe in, sucking her stomach in, while someone tied the corset up from behind. She could barley move in it, let alone eat or exercise, so Ruth spent the majority of her days on set in absolute agony. Several corsets were used during filming to try and relieve her pain but due to reasons of continuity, they all had to be the same, ridiculously small, size. She had red marks and painful-looking indents on her ribs and tummy from where the corset had been holding her in all day.’ …The fifteen inch corset reduced Miss Wilson’s natural waist size by eleven inches…” (‘Jane Eyre’s’ agony over 15 inch corset).

see-now-thats-some-bullshit

 

Jemima West

“Obviously, we had to wear corsets [in Maison Close]. I’d never worn a corset, and that was definitely a challenge, because you have to carry yourself in a completely different manner. And it was interesting, actually, because after the series (we shot for a few months), our waists changed–the way our waists were. Because they sort of tie you in so much and give you such a narrow tummy but then accentuate the hips. So my body actually morphed a little bit after the series. [laughs] It was incredible. And obviously, you’re carrying yourself really straight, and you can’t really lounge, so you’d have to sort of always have a very fixed and firm posture, which is very interesting.

[Interviewer] Sounds kind of painful…On behalf of all the viewers, thank you for enduring the corset.

[laughs] The most difficult was actually eating: eating with a corset on is a massive challenge!” (Brothers, Corsets, and Whips: An Exclusive Interview With Jemima West)

ok maybe a little gif

 

Keira Knightley

“Knightley…says wearing an obligatory corset is ‘positively awful.’ “It’s not really a surprise we were known as the weaker sex, because you literally cannot get a breath. So it’s sort of, as soon as you start getting emotional, if you’re doing an emotional scene, you can’t calm down. You can’t literally draw a breath to try and centre yourself again. It’s no wonder they were sort of fainting all over the place” (Keira Knightley loves period films, hates corsets).

bullshit spongebob gif

 

Dakota Fanning

“I actually fainted during my first fitting [for The Alienist] which gives you some indication [of what it was like to wear a corset]” (The Alienist’s Dakota Fanning says she “actually fainted” during her first corset fitting for new Netflix drama).

kim-kardashian-oh-please gif

 

Lily James

“Despite wearing period costumes for Lady Rose in Downton Abbey, nothing could prepare James for the ‘torture’ of wearing that corset in Disney’s Cinderella. ‘My corset was so tight, I could only have liquid food'” (That corset’s sheer torture for Cinders!).

suuuure-okay gif

 

Emma Stone

“For the first month [of filming The Favourite], I couldn’t breathe, and I would smell menthol and it would make me think I was in a wide-open space and could breathe for a moment in time. After a month, all my organs shifted—it was gross, and if you don’t have to, don’t do it!” (Emma Stone Says Her ‘Organs Shifted’ and She ‘Couldn’t Breathe for a Month’ After Filming ‘The Favourite’).

[Note: Trystan and Kendra have now been joking for about a month, as they put on/take off corsets, “Well, guess my gall bladder just moved!”]

suuuure-sure gif

 

Nicole Kidman

“The actress shocked fans of the 2001 musical Moulin Rouge! by revealing she broke a rib trying to get into her burlesque-dancer corset. ‘I re-broke my rib getting into it… I had this thing that I wanted to get my waist down to 18 inches, which Vivian Leigh had on Gone with the Wind and I was just like, ‘tighter, tighter'” (10 celebrities who opened up about the challenges of wearing corsets for roles).

bad decisions gif

 

Heida Reed

“The Poldark star revealed she named her former corset ‘Cruella’ due to the pain it inflicted upon her… ‘[The corsets] are so tight I can only eat soup and smoothies'” (10 celebrities who opened up about the challenges of wearing corsets for roles).

bitch please gif

 

Jessica Brown Findlay

“I hate corsets. I absolutely hate them. Ugh. I don’t think I’ll ever wear a corset again” (Jessica Brown Findlay: I absolutely hate corsets).

eye roll

 

Elle Fanning

“Elle Fanning said that wearing the constricting garment for her part as Catherine on Hulu’s ‘The Great‘ changed her body and she had to ‘learn how to breathe differently'” (10 celebrities who opened up about the challenges of wearing corsets for roles).

whatever gif

 

Join us in scoffing at allll this corset whining!

 

 

Support FrockFlicks.com

 

 

45 Responses

  1. Claire le Deyare

    I did once have bruises. That said…I was a dumb@$$, I had no chemise (I KNOW LADIES), and I’d made my own corset and mistook bra size and bust size, so it was toooo small. I also used plastic boning. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, it was a decade and a half ago. Corsets that I have that actually are for my size? JUST FINE. All day, and I can eat just fine in them. Although camp chairs are kind of impossible to sit in, because of the posture.

    Reply
  2. Katie O.

    At my most generous interpretation of some of these, it sounds like a few were the result of costume designers using the corset to try to force their bodies into shapes far past what the corset was meant for, but it’s just become such a lazy sound bite whenever an actress is in a period drama. I’ve only worn one a couple of times, but I always found them comfortable.

    Reply
    • Robin Colleen Moore

      That’s what I was thinking, too. Ruth Goodman, the practical historian (well, what would you call her?) goes into some detail about wearing corsets in her book How To Be a Victorian. Having worn a variety of 19th corsetry full-time for months at a time, she confirms than a decently-fitted corset, once you get accustomed to wearing one (you do need to breathe differently, but it shouldn’t leave you out of breath), shouldn’t be a problem at all, and even provides back support while doing all kinds of work (as she did on the series Victorian Farm). We’re not used to wearing anything remotely like that in our ordinary lives, so it does take some getting used to, but it shouldn’t be painful unless you’re being laced in way too tightly (which it sounds as if they definitely did to Ruth Wilson, if they were trying to reduce her waist by at least 10″), or your corset is badly fitted. So: well-fitted corset that smooths out one’s outline and does little waist reduction = should be fine. Crappy, badly-fitted corset + attempting to tight-lace = definite discomfort.

      Something else Ruth mentioned that makes me think Suranne Jones may have had a reason to be miserable was what she called “corset itch”–if you’re wearing a corset while engaged in strenuous work or exercise that’s enough to make to sweat, the salt can end up drying on your skin; your chemise (usually cotton by then) can consequently rub the salt into your skin and make it red, raw, and terribly itchy. I didn’t see the series, mind you, but if she was indeed doing a lot of bounding about, then she very well could have ended up with a nasty case of corset itch.

      So: a reasonably well-fitted, well-made corset does take some getting used to if you haven’t worn one before, and you may have to learn to breathe more “vertically” rather than “horizontally” and just adapt to the feel of it, but once you’ve done that, you should be OK. My thought is that most of the complaining is due to a combination of unfamiliarity with corsets, badly made/fitted ones, and ridiculous attempts at tight-lacing (which were mocked even in period). Perhaps the historical costuming community could give some costume designers a nudge in the right direction?…

      Reply
      • Aleko

        Thanks for your excellent points. A good deal of my corset-wearing was done in battle reenactment in Spain in summer, so I did a lot of sweating, and often wore the same shift three days running. As my shifts were all quite solid linen, they were great sweat absorbers, and didn’t get scratchy at all. But I can well imagine that cotton shifts, or a very thin linen, might have done so. And I don’t even want to start imagining what a synthetic fabric would have been like after three days’ footslogging around the siege of Zaragoza or the battle of Albuera!

        Reply
      • Saraquill

        The only time I’ve gotten stays welts when when I was wearing stays during Hell Week laboratory exams. I wanted the hug stays provide, but one piece of lab equipment demands shitty posture in order to read the numbers. Hence a big dent in my sternum.

        Reply
  3. Boxermom

    Let’s not forget Emma Watson, who famously refused to wear a corset for her role in Beauty & The Beast. Le sigh

    Reply
  4. Johanna M

    Ruth Wilson reduced her waist by 11 inches all at once? I call COMPLETE BULLSHIT on that. I’ve done waist-training and, sure, once you’ve done it for a few months, you can establish some pretty radical differences between corsetted and un- but that’s after you’ve been wearing it for months and gradually bringing it in. I have a very, very hard time believing that your typical US actress (IOW, a person without a lot of squish around that area) could stroll off the street and reduce her waist by 11” with no prior training. No wonder she was in agony.

    Reply
    • Natalie Garcia

      I rolled my eyes so hard at that part I saw my brain. 11 inch reduction on a “slender size 10”? I bloody well think not.

      Reply
  5. Melanie

    I think the lesson here is not, “corsets are terrible; don’t wear them” but “don’t design unnaturally tight corsets”!

    Reply
    • Jamie J LaMoreaux

      I think the lesson is: make your actresses wear chemises, corsets that fit, and tell them to stop being over the top with the stupid corset stories. they only say that sort of thing to make themselves look SO VERY Punished and “it’s all about the part.” “and women are so much better off now than then.” tripe. sheesh.

      Reply
  6. Kathleen Norvell

    Good grief! As a long-time SCAdian and reenactor, I have worn corsets since the 1970s. If they are well-made and fit properly, you will not be uncomfortable. I have a long body, so I make my own so its long enough.

    Reply
  7. Gray

    As far as not being able to breath … Since the beginning of pairs of bodies, women have been singing Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th century music, without mics over an orchestra, while wear corsets. As you said, dancing too. In every shape and style.

    Reply
  8. peacoclaur

    I do wonder just how much of this is down to the fact that, for the uninitiated, corsets are seen by many people in our day and age period as inherently sexual fetish wear as opposed to the practicality it historically was, like stockings and garters prior to the development of stay-up pantyhose. I suspect its the contemporary sexualisation as well as a particular “porno-chic” aesthetic fuel these myths about the poor maligned corset and all the ahistorical complaints above.

    Which is strange as corsets, apart from being a practical garment worn at all levels of society, historically it was a men’s garment as well, and enjoyed huge popularity in the military – how else would you maintain your dashingly svelte figure after overindulging at the regimental dinner? Here’s an example of a male corset from 1812. (ok fine, technically you argue its a girdle but same principle – and you never see these in film and television on men – gee I wonder why?)

    https://ussconstitutionmuseum.org/2013/07/09/suck-it-in-purser-thomas-chews-corse/

    Also, going back to the comment about diet and exercise, compared to the regime many of these actresses need to adhere to maintain their looks and thus their bankability are massively out of reach for most of us – oddly the corset in this light looks quite democratic and egalitarian compared to the personal trainers, dieticians and army of stylists some of these women keep in their employ.

    Reply
    • Allison Rabenau

      There’s a nice glimpse of Ralph Fiennes in a corset as he’s getting dressed in the film ‘Onegin’, IIRC.

      Reply
  9. Mollie

    Meanwhile my core has been obliterated by a pregnancy and a C-section and I would love to find a good corset-type binder to help support me while I build back strength. Pushing all of this back in sounds pretty comfortable to me right now!

    Reply
  10. Mira Awana

    Also corsets are great for your posture. Probably why all women in history who wore corsets have never complained of scoliosis.

    Reply
    • M.E. Lawrence

      I seem to recall a Michelle Dockery interview in which she talks about the “Downton” corsets and what they did for her posture. It bothers me to watch a costume film whose female characters are slouching around. On the other hand, I’m happy not to wear the girdles that made my mother so uncomfortable. (And she was a slender woman. It was just something one did mid-century when dressing up.)

      Reply
  11. Addie

    I think a huge part of the complaints from people who wear for a short time filming as opposed to people who do recreations regularly is…
    a) costumers not always including shifts and other appropriate lining (hence welts and chafing). This might be the director’s fault because ~shifts aren’t sexy~
    b) not getting the time to get used to it due to filming schedules
    c) likely not getting a bespoke corset specifically tailored to the wearer’s needs, probably paired with
    d) costumers (or directors) forcing a corset to do the job of shaping a body beyond its real capabilities, instead of going in with the actual illusion-makers (puffy sleeves and bodice fronts, pattern direction, big skirts, petticoats, sewn-in padding, etc).
    I think it is likely that many of these actresses did have a really miserable time and aren’t being babies, BUT THAT’S NOT THE CORSET’S FAULT. It’s the production and industry sacrificing the actors’ comfort for convenience.
    And also I think it’d be considered weird if on the press circuit actors were like “oh yeah wore a corset it was so much better than a bra. Supported my boobs real nice, eased off the back, I’m never wearing a bra again.” I’d like them to, but I think the press doesn’t want to hear that because that’s not how people think of corsets.

    Reply
    • Kat

      That’s why Lily James’ comment confuses me; I remember when the first trailer for Cinderella was released and everyone was aghast at how tiny her waist looked and thought Disney must have been CGI-ing her down, and she came out and was all “no no, it’s just a stiff bodice and a really massive skirt and petticoats that’s creating the illusion.” But after the fact she’s switched to, “oh yes they were absolutely torturing me by cramming me into a too small corset”?

      Reply
  12. Nzie

    Some of these comments seem nonsensical, and I’d imagine there’s some slight to moderate exaggeration as is normal when telling a story (like they have to do on the press tours for movies, a situation where they also get asked dopey questions about their costumes and fitness routines). But I also think it sounds like some were put into ill-fitting corsets or not given chemises, etc. In which case, I’m more sympathetic to them.

    I have made 2 corsets. I found I did not love dealing with necessities in the 1880s one, but it was great back support at the con I wore it to. The 1908ish one I made I wear under costumes that don’t need it because I find I end up swayback and my back gets sore much more quickly than my feet–a problem a corset totally resolves. I would like to come up with a modern version to wear under my regular clothes.

    It’s not a caftan; you will feel it. But we’re also in an era of control top tights and spanx. So are we that much more advanced on this particular topic? I’m not convinced.

    Reply
    • Saraquill

      I enjoy Cathy Hay’s comment about corsets vs today’s shaping. Paraphrased: Think of your leggings, with your butt hanging out for all the world to see. We’re expected to rearrange our lives via diet, exercise and surgery to have a butt which fits society’s expectations. How is this superior to wearing a corset?

      Reply
  13. Susan Pola Staples

    I too have worn a corset at several Ren Faires, cons and Reenactor events. I wore proper chemise, etc as well and I prefer wearing a corset over a bra. My back doesn’t hurt when I’m corseted and my shoulder straps stay put. Unlike the bra. Some of these horrid tales sound like they didn’t as mentioned before wear proper under things and were not bespoke or at least didn’t fit the actress. And the actress was given no accommodation time to get use to it and make it your friend.

    Reply
  14. Aleko

    I LOVE my 18th-century working-class stiff leather stays! I have a long back and ordinarily having to just stand around for long periods makes it ache, but when properly strait-laced into my stays I can stand for hours with no problem at all. And it’s a great support when heaving around bales of fodder or buckets of water: no risk of back strain or hernia! Stays rule OK.

    And even for elite fashion stays it’s absolutely not necessary for them to be super-tight. They do somewhat redistribute your shape so you’re cylindrical rather than oval in section, and that means that your waist looks smaller from front and back even though a tape measure will prove that it isn’t. Let’s hear it for Mrs Scott, in the household of the last colonial governor of Virginia in the 1770s, who ordered a pair of stays sent from London with the note ‘I don’t mind the fashion if they are made easy and full in the Stomick’. (Quoted in Linda Baumgarten’s ‘Eighteenth-century Clothing at Williamsburg’.)

    (BTW, I clicked on the link to Thomas Chew’s corset and had a weird moment when I read the bit where it said the bag also included a pair of ‘silk suspenders’. Ooh, kinky, I thought – then I remembered that ‘suspenders’ is American-speak for braces, and was disappointed.)

    Reply
  15. Fashion through Herstory

    I don’t think Hollywood knows about padding (at least not in a historical sense) and try to get that 8 shape by inching in the waist only. That would be painfull, especially with a ill fitting corset and no chemise.
    Also not every era needs a small waist!

    Reply
  16. Alexa

    Where did Valerie Steele write that nicely juicy sentence, please?

    As for the first example, Suranne Jones, you might be unfair. I don’t know whether the quote accurately reflects what was happening, and of course “You can’t really jump up and down wearing a corset” is bull. But it is quite possible to get hives and welts from corsets, even well-fitting ones. I’ve worn corsets for years without problems, then suddenly… rashes wherever any part of the stay or corset chafed just a little. And pain-wise they’re not to be sneezed at! They even gave me fever a few times. Maybe Suranne really is one of the unfortunate ones who get hives easily.

    Reply
    • Black Tulip

      It’s in “The Corset: A Cultural History” (page 78 in my paperback edition).

      Reply
  17. Sharon in Scotland

    If corsets were so awful and uncomfortable, then working women would not have worn them. They had no time to sit about, eat bon-bons and faint, they needed to bend down, stretch up, twist and reach. Also, women with any boobage, (me, 36 H) would not have been able to wear clothes with comfort, without the support of a decent corset, working class or an Empress. It’s such a lazy trope

    Reply
  18. Alexander

    Oh, PLEASE! Each period has a differing corset shape and it is only when you get to the Victorian/Edwardian era that you start to see serious ‘tight-lacing’ – and the infamous S shape – creating more of an extreme silhouette. For example 16th,17th and 18th Century stays were not about cinching in the waist at all, but instead were there to provide a suitable structure to underpin a kirtle/gown or such. The garment is, in fact, quite comfy to wear… I know because I was a ‘boy player’ in a touring Shakespeare/Jacobean theatre company for several years and wore many a pair of stays and found them very supportive and easy to wear – especially the tabbed 17th Century variety (what on earth is Emma Stone winging about!!!) Besides, if you have a corset in the right size it should be fine no matter what the period. All of these actresses are hyper weedy or the costume departments are doing something seriously wrong. Check you measurements, people! I really think that the Alexandra Byrne’s comment you quoted is nearest to reality.

    Reply
  19. Kathy

    I agree with some of the other commenters, I know there’s some exaggeration and absurdity happening here but it does sound like in a few of the cases higher-ups(costume designers, directors, others) had unrealistic expectations for the corset and failed to make sure actresses wore something underneath and to REALLY complete an illusion by making the shoulders and hips wider.

    Reply
  20. Saraquill

    I occasionally wear Redthreaded Regency short stays as bust support. I keep pointing out they support me way better than a bra, and I need the long term hug on stressful occasions. My mother is still convinced I’m crushing my organs. headdesk

    Reply
  21. LadySlippers

    What I heard repeatedly is costume designers (or someone in a decision making capacity) believed all the crap that women are meant to be tormented and tortured by their clothing. So they made sure the corsets these actresses would wear would do exactly that. And by making them so small they were horrible to wear. How cruel.

    Reply
  22. Orian Hutton

    Many years ago, a friend and I wore corsets (with shifts and petticoats) and boned Victorian dresses to a supper. Once we began eating, the ability to breath became seriously impaired. She fainted; I came close. It would was a good lesson in historical reality.

    Reply
    • Jesslyn Sugiharto

      I think it’s just because the two of you haven’t had enough practice. Takes a bit to get used to the feeling. Have done house chores, worked out etc in a corset, appreciated the support honestly.

      Reply
    • B. Durbin

      I was in a show that wore proper corsetry, though it was community theater. (Mind you, the actual corsets were all over the place, because it was community theater, and you have to beg and borrow to fill out your roster. Roughly the same decade, though.) On Saturdays we had a two-show day, matinee and evening performance, so we generally left them on in between so as to make the evening costume fitting not an issue.

      And yeah, our between-show meal was generally very light. Needed, though.

      Reply
  23. Roxana

    Tight lacing was perceived as a problem even back in the 19th century. Many of the letters to fashion magazines discussing the ‘torment’ of tight lacing seem to be SM fantasies.
    The daughters of a doctor opposed to tight lacing still wore corsets, they just removed the boning. They loved stylish clothes which wouldn’t sit right unless worn over the proper foundation garments.

    Reply
    • Kendra

      Absolutely SM fantasies. Also, lower class women did physical labor in corsets — there were even corsets specifically marketed to them!

      Reply
  24. Anna LB

    Petition to re-name “corset whining” to “tight-lacing whining”? Because it really sounds like that’s mostly what’s going on here. Like, if I wear modern clothes that are too small, that’s painful too!

    Reply
  25. Rachel

    I love a decently fitting corset, but a lot of corsets that were really designed to adorn a bedpost, or corsets made by people who don’t have a clue what they are doing, are not at all fine. Corsets that would fit properly, except they are laced wrong can also be harmful, even dangerous. I’ve seen plenty of people on the verge of fainting and vomiting from being so badly trussed up. I have relaced MANY women who were dressed by someone who made them hang on to a post while they yanked the laces to within an inch of their lives, or a friend who paid zero attention to how uneven lacing was causing bones to curl inward. Some even had their corsets on upside down. A lot of those folks are people you would think had the experience to know better.

    It’s no surprise that people who don’t know what a corset is supposed to look or feel like are blaming the garment when it was really another ignorant person who hurt them.

    Reply
    • B. Durbin

      The very first time I wore a corset was at a convention, and my husband laced it up. We did have to loosen it mid-day, because he turned out to be very good at it, and it was a bit much. The funny part was that this was one of those days that I ended up in a late-night conversation with a bunch of people and made an offhand comment about how long I’d been wearing the corset—about eighteen hours at that point, and one of the guys who knew something about corsets sad, “This is your first time? Oh honey, don’t do that.”

      Really weird distribution of loose post-kid body fat when I took it off. :D

      Reply
  26. G

    It sounds more like these poor women were put into ill fitting corsets, than them whining without cause.
    I don’t blame them, nor do I think they’re lying (exaggerating a bit though? yes).

    So I feel like our ire should be directed to the people in charge, who decides to tightlace and forgoes shifts, rather than the women who complains about having to wear painful clothing for a job.

    Reply
  27. A

    Yikes, “The Alienist”…
    First of all, the show really kept insisting corsets were worn right on the skin – that terrible scene when Dakota Fanning’s character takes off her corset and there are close-ups on the red welts it left… In series 2 there were two lengthy sex scenes where women (who were not hookers who juuust might have done it deliberately) had corsets with no chemise in sight.

    And there is another thing. Dakota Fanning is a great actress, no doubt about that. But in that show she looked utterly terrible in her costumes. She was clearly uncomfortable, didn’t know how to stand, didn’t know how to move. Maybe they really had a corset on with no chemise. I remember it mostly from series 2 (and I’m not going back to watch series one) – she wore a lot of blouses with skirts, and she was slouching terribly. It made the edge of her corset usually clearly visible through her blouse.
    Her character was a well-brought up young lady from a wealthy family. No way she would have such terrible posture and movement.

    Reply
  28. Sarah

    To me, this doesn’t read as the actresses “whining” nearly as much as the costume people making bad decisions re: stuffing their actresses into corsets WAY too small for them. I have fainted once in a corset, because I’d gained a little weight and was stupidly trying to lace it as tight as it had used to be, but like….as you say in the article, corsets should NOT cause fainting, and if they are, that seems like legitimate grounds for complaint on the parts of the actresses. I feel like this is squarely on the shoulders of the costumers, not the actresses.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Saraquill Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.