Monday, March 13, 2017


In the Herald of Health there is an interesting article about the problems of corsets and the harm they can do to the body. The article came out in 1869. The use of a corset during the 19th century changes from place to place and decade to decade. Also, corsets came in a variety of styles and in the amount of restriction it causes the body. They were front laced and a few back laced. The back laced corset is what we've seen through the eyes of Hollywood. The front laced was more practical for the single woman, or the frontier and farm woman. This article shows that by 1869 there was concern about the health issues from wearing a corset.

Below is the excerpt from Herald of Health©1869
And now for the corsets! Why are they worn? To improve the figure, many say. And yet some of the finest forms I have ever seen wore no corsets, but were supposed to do so because of the fine bust. In reference to these, I have been asked what corsets or shoulder braces they wore, the inquirer wishing to secure the same, because the chest was so complete in its contour. Now, the peculiarity with these very young ladies was that they had never worn corsets or been compressed, padded, or braced in any way, but had dressed loosely and taken gymnastics,
which aro better than corsets to improve the bust.

And Encyclopaedia Americana ©1830 has this interesting set of recommendations about wearing corsets.
We may conclude what we have to say on the use of the corset, by imbodying the whole in a few plain, general rules:—1st. Corsets should be made of smooth, soft, elastic materials. 2d. They should be accurately fitted and modified to suit the peculiarities of figure of each wearer. 3d. No other stiffening should be used but that of quilting or padding ; the bones, steel, &c., should be left to the deformed or diseased, for whom they were originally intended. 4th. Corsets should never be drawn so tight as to impede regular, natural breathing, as, under all circumstances, the improvement of figure is insufficient to compensate for the air of awkward restraint caused by such lacing. 5th. They should never be worn, either loosely or tightly, during the hours appropriated to sleep, as, by impeding respiration, and accumulating the heat of the system improperly, they invariably injure. 6th. The corset for young persons should be of the simplest character, and worn in the lightest and easiest manner, allowing their lungs full play, and giving the form its fullest opportumty for expansion.

If one wishes a fine figure, do not encase it in whalebone, so as to limit muscular motion, but rather encourage the free development of every organ within and without by appropriate action; that is, take in the most air possible, so as to make lungs full and free; throw shoulders back so as to make the chest broad and erect; give free play to all tho muscles, so that they will grow strong and support the body well without artificial aid.

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