Of Corset Hurts

It is a harsh plaything.  Stiffened with whales' teeth, it is a dainty terror; a canvas structure coated with starch and paste.  A width of carved bone, curve-defying, slides beneath the laced front, emphasizing with geometrical ferocity the triangular beauty of a woman's torso.

The woman who felt its embroidered embrace also felt her interior cage compressed, as her organs swam through the living plasma in a panic, trying to avoid the rapier ripostes of her ribs.  Laces, plaits of iron, reduce Nature's plan to angles and plains.  The immovable cat's cradle creates interior destruction, although – even now – we can't help but admire its delicate route.

A garden sways across the breast; panels are the color of a mermaid's tail.  Bows are like transparent roses floating on a jade-colored lake.

The art, the careful beauty, is an apology for the pain.

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17 responses to “Of Corset Hurts

  1. i kinda wanted one until i read this: "The woman who felt its embroidered embrace also felt her interior cage
    compressed, as her organs swam through the living plasma in a panic,
    trying to avoid the rapier ripostes of her ribs. "those panicked organs became very visual to me lol.

  2. I can feel the need for smelling salts, just looking at that.

  3. Ow! I admire how your writing can make this embroidered coffin look beautiful, Aubs.

  4. Actually, having worn corsets very much like this one a lot, I can tell you that a) it doesn't hurt, and b) you can do just about anything in a corset (notably breathe well enough to sing, dance or run, all of which I have done), except bend at the waist. It takes about a half hour, going either way, for each sort of underwear to feel comfortable after having worn the other, but in some ways I actually prefer the corset, particularly for sitting on backless stools or hay bales, since it does support your back.

  5. It's also relevant that girls started wearing corsets as they entered puberty. So growing up with them is very different than being a modern day worman trying to fit into the same structure aspiring to the same results.I'd love to wear a corset like this, just once!

  6. Listen… …Do you hear that?
    …It's legions of Elizabeth Swann fans saying, "La, la la la la la, we can't heeeear youuuuu!"

  7. Your writing is as beautiful as your subject, Aubrey, as always.

  8. your closing line … as stunning as the prose.

  9. correction from Sleepyhead on Monday Morning: your closing line … as stunning as the corset.

  10. serenpoly – actually, no less a source than the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which supplied this photo, agrees with you: that it wasn't the corset itself that caused the damage, but the intensity of the lacing. Be sensible with your corset enthusiasms and you will come to no harm.
    But there are stories of Polaire's 14-inch waist, of restricted arm movement so intense that the muscles remain undeveloped and the woman needs to wear her corset if only to prop up her weakened arms! And this comes from the 19th century, when corsets were made closer to the form of the woman's body, when the curves were more pronounced than denounced.
    jaypo – Yes, I'd love to wear one of these too; if only once! (I've often wondered how bad it would be if a woman with a normal waist put one of these on…not so bad? Anyway, it would be a lark.)

  11. this is a thing of beauty, and so glad I never have to wear it. Makes the strange undergarments I have to wear for the wedding this weekend seem more comfortable

  12. Yeah, that was the one thing I hated about PotC, perpetuating the 'she faints because she can't breathe in a corset' myth. But, of course, the whole outfit was mail-ordered from England, so maybe that has something to do with why it didn't fit…

  13. I'm glad I was not around to experience the age of the corset.

  14. "There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; I'm naught but humble pirate."

  15. Those red bows over the green. The corset matches the beauty of your prose, Aubrey.( I would probably rebel if required by society to wear corsets; but now that nobody is, I'd LOVE to try this one on. )

  16. OMG, I just got the pun in the title now. How could I have forgotten that despite the beautiful prose, Aubrey is still the punstress extraordinarie?

  17. Aubrey, I always have to plot out special time to read your posts. If I even try to glance at the most recent while I'm at work I am lost in your words for hours. I love to read your stuff!! You really draw people in and get those imagination juices flowing. You are a long desired break in any crappy day. Thanks!

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