History Of Corsets: How Corsets Became Popular And Were Then Rationed For WWI

Beauty standards are infinitely mutated over time and geography, but a particular shape emerged hundreds of years ago as the ideal female body in the Western world, to the point that you probably don’t need to tell what it is is. The problem for women trying to achieve this ideal is that by its very nature, it is not the most attainable. What they could do, they found out, was to mold their bodies to the desired form with some combination of clothes, metal straps and / or animal bones. Hey, nobody ever said beauty was beautiful.

Bad for bones

Archaeologists have identified clothing made of metal corsets in the artwork as Bronze Age Minoan culture. Fast forward to the 15th and 16th centuries, and it was customary for women in the Western world to dress tightly with a paste solution pasted in the front or back to keep things from custom. Later innovations relied on wooden planks, metal rods, or animal bones to hold the shape of the garment, but it was as uncomfortable as it sounds, so eventually someone got the bright idea to use whale bones . They were not actually bones, but a type of hard cartilage found in the mouth of a whale species of the same name. This may not sound enjoyable any more, but whale bone corsets were so popular that demand for them drove the species closer to extinction.
Whales were not the only ones to get hurt. As corset fashion became more and more extreme, women began to suffer a number of distortions from shortness of breath due to the tightening of the skeletal deformity of the diaphragm. The remains of skeletons wearing hard corsets that died of the 18th and 19th centuries have been transformed into an “S” formation and an unnaturally curved spine. Doctors of the day recognized the loss and wrote books and articles warning of the “health plague” that they compared to gambling, drinking and smoking. They were almost as successful as they would be today if they tried to drive women away from kajal.
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