1876 Canadian book railing against corsetry

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Advertisement for ‘Hutch’ a medicine marketed to women with corset-related stomach pains, Toronto Star, January 4, 1901

I am not a follower of the Victorian hysteria over corsetry. When worn responsibly, corsets simply smoothed the figure, slightly slimmed the waist and supported the breasts – however it is the vanity of the wearer that turned these reasonable undergarments into objects of torture. Most of the Victorian anti-corsetry books and articles I have read are by unknown writers using hyperbolic arguments. Although their usual promotion for rational dress is admirable, their arguments rely upon religious reasoning and medical quackery, exaggerated facts and first-hand accounts presented without evidence. Regardless, these documents can be amusing reads and they express a  concern many had over the wearing of corsets and the problem with tight-lacing. Here is a collection of essays I just discovered is available online that I had never heard of: Dress and Health: How to be Strong – A Book for Ladies, published in Montreal in 1876.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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