Identity, Gender and Fashion

Corsetry highlighted virtuous and erotic impulses simultaneously. Women endured the discomfort, physical manipulation, deformation, side effects, and permanent disabilities as a consequence of the pleasures associated with tight lacing. Those who denounced the custom painted lurid and horrific pictures of the under-side of the custom. They argued that the practice caused significant anatomical and health problems—such as reduced fertility, complications in pregnancy and birthing—as well as making sexual activity uncomfortable and painful for women (e.g. Davies 1982). Wilson emphasised the sheer discomfort and physical distress caused by corsets with the following anecdote:
Betty Ryan, a Wimbledon tennis star before the First World War, recalled that women’s dressing rooms in English tennis clubs up to and during the First World War provided a rail near the fireplace on which the steel-boned corsets in which the women played could be dried: ‘It was never a pretty sight, for most of them were bloodstained.’ (Wilson 1985:99)
The Face of Fashion. Craik. pp 120-121

Corsetry highlighted virtuous and erotic impulses simultaneously. Women endured the discomfort, physical manipulation, deformation, side effects, and permanent disabilities as a consequence of the pleasures associated with tight lacing. Those who denounced the custom painted lurid and horrific pictures of the under-side of the custom. They argued that the practice caused significant anatomical and health problems—such as reduced fertility, complications in pregnancy and birthing—as well as making sexual activity uncomfortable and painful for women (e.g. Davies 1982). Wilson emphasised the sheer discomfort and physical distress caused by corsets with the following anecdote:

Betty Ryan, a Wimbledon tennis star before the First World War, recalled that women’s dressing rooms in English tennis clubs up to and during the First World War provided a rail near the fireplace on which the steel-boned corsets in which the women played could be dried: ‘It was never a pretty sight, for most of them were bloodstained.’ (Wilson 1985:99)

The Face of Fashion. Craik. pp 120-121