Friday, February 11, 2011

Corsets - Tool of Social Control or Just Underwear?

I'm working on a research project at the museum for a potential lecture on popular misconceptions regarding corsetry in the late 19th century. It feels good to be back in the library. I have a trip to the old alma mater to do some more serious academic research in the near future.

You know the heroine in every adventure movie that takes place in the past ever? The one who 'can't breathe' when she's laced into a corset? She is lame. I have always thought such scenes were cheap ploys aimed at modern audiences designed to get them to sympathize with her and view her as "fiesty" and dynamic.

Was the corset in the Vicorian era in particular a tool for social control? Or was it just underwear? I plan to examine how it is used in popular imagery in our own time, and how it would have been viewed by everyday folks in the 19th century in addition to the criticism laid down by physicians and feminists alike.

It seems everyone has an agenda where the corset is involved. Let's see if we can find the truth somewhere in the middle.

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