Apparently, Corsets Are Just Super Chill Rib Bras

Illustration for article titled Apparently, Corsets Are Just Super Chill Rib Bras
Image: Wellcome Collection

If you can’t wear a suit of armor over it while fighting on horseback, your corset is trash.

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In an interview with Page Six Style, Oscar winner and Mary Queen of Scots costume designer Amanda Byrne said the recent slate of bellyaching about organ-moving corsets is really just down to bad corsets:

“I’ve been asked a lot about corsets and discomfort and I would say number one, a bespoke corset — a corset which is made for you — there is no reason in the world why that corset should not be comfortable.”

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This comes on the heels of a recent comment from Emma Stone about how her corsets on the set of The Favourite actually shifted her organs around, leaving her huffing menthol to remain conscious.

Byrne counters that while the shape-shifting does occur, it’s in a comfortable way if your corset is well-made:

Yes, they do change your shape, but there are parts of us where it’s comfortable to feel supported in that way. You know, some of us choose to wear bras, some of us don’t choose to wear bras. I don’t think it’s any more constraining than that if the corset fits you.”

Dakota Fanning seems to sort of agree. She recently explained to W Magazine that her first corset fitting for The Alienist made her faint, but now it’s fine:

“I’ve worn corsets before but never for this long of a period. Seven months; your body completely changes. You can get it on without even lacing or unlacing. By the end I was just snapping it on, snapping it off. It was like second nature.”

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And Saoirse Ronan was able to do more in a corset than some bloggers currently wearing ill-fitting, Cheeto-dusted sweatpants did in the entirety of 2018:

“Saoirse [Ronan], for example, was [horseback] riding in a corset and that means she’s got to have a lot of movement and flexibility. She was riding in a corset and armor, that again can be made in a way that it is supple to the body. I think it’s a very easy soundbite to say, ‘my corset was agony,’ and people sort of want to hear that.”

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A 2015 study of skeletal remains from 1700-1900s found that, despite having ribs shaped like champagne flutes that displaced livers and stomachs down around the hips, corset-wearers generally lived longer than the average life expectancy for the time periods. So if we’d just suck it in and lace it up, it’s possible that we could parlay those low-slung livers right into immortality.

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DISCUSSION

adrastra
Adrastra, patron saint of not giving a fuck

While I think there’s much to be said for bespoke corsets being less painful when correctly made, the 2015 study seems very ‘correlation does not equal causation’ to me. Who wore corsets during that period? Women who could afford them, meaning women who were not among the working poor, or who lived in hostile environments (homesteaders, for example); these women, doing less hard labor and with better access to proper housing/medical care/nutrition, would have of course had longer life expectancies due to their substantially higher quality of life.