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Torture Device Of Fashion Necessity Essay

2011 words - 9 pages

When looking back on the Victorian era and comparing it to our current age we don’t think that they have much in common. In the last two hundred years the values and attitudes that Americans hold have drastically changed from what they were during that age. Today it’s more common to find someone being rude in public than it is for someone to give a kind complement to a stranger or to even help someone that has fallen. The Victorian era might seem so far away that it has no effect on society today but to a certain extent we are affected by it. It might not be in the manners or the etiquette we have but in a sense the demeanor in which we carry ourselves and certain fashionable items which we use are influenced by the era. The evidence of this influence is in our attempts to make a good first impression and how we display our wealth. Most importantly the evidence is in certain items of fashion we wear such as corsets and the manner in which we wear these elaborate outfits to show that we are socially superior. In the twenty-first century society has come to a point where it revolves around what products you wear and who the designer is. Not only that, but if you go against what society deems as acceptable you are considered a lesser, unfortunate individual. I will be using corsets to show the comparison between the common corset and the Victorian era corset. I will also be arguing that while the fashion might have changed the needed to be fashionable has not. In order to support my arguments I will be using works from Beatrice Fontanel, Valerie Steele, and Helen Roberts.
The history of the corset can be traced back thousands of years back to ancient Crete (1600 B.C.). The evidence of the Cretan corset’s existence is the Snake Goddess which was not only a Household Goddess but is also thought to be the goddess of rebirth, fertility, and renewal. It is because this goddess is depicted wearing a corset that it is believed that the women of that time also wore corsets. The corset that is depicted on the Snake Goddess is thought to be laced that came up under the breasts to accentuate them by pushing upward and outward displaying the entire bust. The corset itself is a controversial garment for the fact that it is widely perceived to be an instrument of torture and thought to be a contributor to illness and sometimes death in the Victorian era. Not only that but it is also “condemned as having been an instrument of women’s oppression” for the fact that it is believed to be “a coercive apparatus through which patriarchal society controlled women and exploited their sexuality” . But contrary to this belief it was not men that forced women to wear corsets and the fact that while many women wore corsets not all wore it for the same reasons.
It is believed that in the 1830’s the corset was thought of as a medical necessity because it was believed that woman was fragile and needed assistance in order to hold her up. During the Victorian...

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