…Wester woman, whom nature forgot to endow with a magnificent rear-end, at times had to rely on make-believe to render herself desirable; witness the bustle of the 1870′s, a gross illusion of steatopygia. Subsequently, man’s admiration shifted to the stout woman with a tiny waist, a combination that does not occur in nature. It cannot be produced by crossbreeding or special exercise; it exists only as a sartorial illusion, achieved by applying a vise known as a corset.
In approaching this subject we have to keep in mind that the woman who lived at the turn of the century barely resembled today’s woman. She had missed an important phase in the evolution of mankind, for she could not stand straight unaided. To ensure her upright position she needed support, and it was the corset that saved her from having to walk on all fours.
Precautions against her breakdown had to be taken early in life. The little girl was securely encased in a junior corset that promised Perfect Health and visibly improved the contours of her shrimplike body. To be sure, the use of a child’s corset was not limited to occidental countries. Circassian girls- to give but one foreign example- wore from the tenth year on a broad girdle of untanned leather. The wealthy locked it with silver hooks, whereas common people sewed it tightly around the waist. The cuirass was worn until the wedding night.