Anonymous asked: a few times you refer to corsets as being damaging. If worn correctly, a well-made corset (except for S-bend ones, which aren't good for the back) is actually very good for posture and in cases of scoliosis, can actually reduce pain. And even tightlacing, a modern practice, is safe if done slowly. (Much like stretching one's ears must be done) Good-quality corsets aren't inherently dangerous, even after long periods of time.
I don’t believe I’ve ever inferred that the modern use of corsets is damaging, indeed I’ve had experience of wearing them myself and of them being used as a health aid.
My posts refer to the Victorian wearing of corsets, which cannot be likened to their modern usage, and which was demonstrably damaging to women’s health. Unlike modern women, who make an informed, voluntary decision to wear corsets and usually after they’ve reached a certain age of physical development, Victorian girls had no choice in the matter. Newborn babies (of both sexes) were put into a ‘binder’ (a long piece of fabric that was tightly wrapped around the abdomen). At 9 months this was replaced by adjustable ‘stay bands’ (a type of mini non-boned corset which was worn by both sexes). At the age of 7 or 8 girls started wearing real corsets. From then onwards the corset was an inescapable part of their lives.
Wearing items such as these from a young age affected girls’ growth. This crucially included the lack of proper development of the abdominal and back muscles. Because of corset-wearing these muscles weren’t really used, didn’t develop proper tone and could become atrophied - too weak to provide adequate support on their own. This created a reliance on corsets as essentially a replacement for the muscle to physically keep the woman standing. Corsets were also universal – worn by women of all classes and whatever their size or shape. Corset sizes remained limited and very small by modern standards and their designs were extremely unaccommodating for people with a ‘corpulent’ figure as was the term at the time. What the Victorians termed ‘corpulent’ or ‘matronly’ is comparable to the proportions of a modern healthy woman. As with most other items of clothing in the Victorian period the wearer was supposed to fit into them, rather than them comfortably fit the wearer – women would purposely buy dresses a size too small and say they would use corsetry to be able to wear them.
A myth concerning Victorian corsets is that they only affected the ‘soft’ area of fat below the ribcage and above the hips. This was not the case. As well as forcing the waist into a smaller round shape (as opposed to its natural oval one) prolonged corset-wearing (even without tight-lacing) caused the base of the ribcage itself to constrict downwards and inwards. This affected the heart and lungs and lead to women breathing only from their upper chest and not their diaphragm causing further breathing difficulties and possibly fainting. A common condition associated with prolonged (moderate) corset-wearing was known as ‘chicken breast’. This was a condition where pressure from corsetry caused the ribs to turn inwards, overlap the breastbone and fracture. When this happened the lungs became atrophied and could then puncture or collapse. In the 19th century this sort of injury could be fatal.