Friday, March 20, 2015

    This week our discussion regarding corsetry and its growing presence in modern society sparked an intriguing discussion. It is clear that the corseting is not as prevalent as it once was in the 19th century, but it has been slowly regaining popularity in recent years. In the 19th century, when it was first popularized, tight lacing was used to give women a more feminine shape, in addition to straightening their posture, and according to feminist theory, to make it harder for them to move (therefore restricting their ability to "threaten" male power).  However, in more modern times, specifically the 1980s to the early 2000s, corseting has been regarded less as a social norm and more as a deviation from what women are "supposed to" look like. This shift can be accredited to the change in female body image. During the 19th century, women were curvy, with small waists defined by a corset. As we move into the 20th century the ideal of women's beauty began to shrink. Even in the 1950s when Marilyn Monroe was esteemed as an icon for her curvaceous figure, she was only about a size 10-12 in todays sizes. In the 1990s, as grunge and androgyny emerged in popular culture, women with curves became increasingly scarcer on the covers of magazines.
Wealthy British woman, Hannah Primrose (1874)

Marilyn Monroe (Mid 1950s)

Model Valeria Mazza (1990)

     However, today the ideal image of female beauty seems to be reverting to its roots. By no means am I suggesting that women of all shapes and sizes are represented on magazines or fashion show runways. But women like Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose are now seen as sexy and their bodies as ideal, although they are are not a size zero. This could be partially attributed to the new trend that beauty should appear natural, although it may not be natural. In this way curves are slowly creeping back into pop culture. Similarly, Kardashian and Rose although both curvy, have a specific body shape, a very defined hourglass. Their bodies are shaped much like the women of the 19th century, with larger assets but very small defined waists. It almost appears like they are wearing corsets... Kardashian even recently began promoting a new type of corset, the work out corset from This new contraption, much like corsets used in the past, is meant to give a woman's body that desired hourglass shape. 
     As the ideal female body shape has once again shifted from super thin to hourglass, the corset is bound to reemerge in popular culture. 

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