Jul 042008
 

A few days ago when my son, my husband, and I were having breakfast, the conversation turned to fainting, and from there to corsets. (What, you’re not talking about things like that at breakfast? Oh, you’re not talking at breakfast. Well, that’s the only meal we always eat together.) Let me explain: my son had been feeling a bit dizzy lately because it was very hot and humid, he has been growing fast, and so he started to ask me about feeling dizzy and fainting. My husband said that women used to faint all the time, and I said that was because of corsets. After my son had listened to my automatic lecture about the importance of drinking enough water he asked, “What’s a corset?” We tried to explain. He was puzzled, why would somebody want to wear something like that? Well, it all comes down to coolness, I said. “It’s like when you’d rather get heatstroke than wear the sun-hat you don’t like because your “cool” baseball cap is in the wash.” He wasn’t really convinced. (He wore his hat that day, though. After we had “talked it cool” by comparing it to a cowboy hat and such.)

Still, he couldn’t get over the fact that women would wear something as uncomfortable as that, something that makes you almost unable to breathe. My next thought was, “Today’s women would never do that!” But then I thought of high heels. Shoes that make your feet hurt, and your back, and your knees, and your hips, and you can’t even walk in them. And then – I thought of cosmetic surgery. And made the mistake of talking about that as well. Have you ever tried to explain to your kindergardener why some women want to put plastic bags into their body? Because they think it looks pretty?

Of course, I couldn’t really explain it to him because I don’t understand it myself. I do understand not feeling pretty, I understand not being content with the way I look (though I wish I couldn’t). But pay a fortune to have surgery that isn’t really necessary? And where do you stop, then? When you look like a Barbie doll? When you have grown so old that your heart doesn’t take it anymore?

Cosmetic surgery is on the rise, and I sense a paradigm shift that makes it more “normal”. Younger and younger women are thinking about it, and having it, even at an age where their bodies aren’t yet finished.

I’m really worried about a lifestyle where we are defined by our looks. Where we try to look like the ideal 18-year-old until we die.

I’m also very worried that something like cosmetic surgery seems to be much more available these days. Until not that long ago, in Germany, cosmetic surgery was only for people who really needed it. People with horrible scars and such. Nowadays it’s something that you just pay for. Don’t like your nose? Snip.

I’d love to be able to tell my son that people have evolved since the days of the corset but it seems they haven’t.

(And, please, don’t forget to send your links for the Just Post roundtable. My e-mail address is creativemother AT web DOT de.)

  15 Responses to “Corsets, coolness, caps, and cosmetic surgery”

  1. Oh and then there are those people who have cosmetic surgery in order to wear a corset! have you heard of this? They get ribs removed, wear a corset and have the itty bittiest waist EVER! It’s so freaky.

    Things sure haven’t changed for the better – it’s just getting weird. Great post yet again!

    H

  2. Just stopping by (I’ll answer your mail! Soon! Erm. This year still!) to defend corsets.

    Wearing a corset is very much like wearing high heels: if you overdo it, say, 24 hours a day, or tightlacing to the point you turn blue in the face, it is unhealthy and dangerous, yes. As with everything.
    But wearing a corset once in a week, reducing your waist just a bit, gives you an awesome feeling. Modern corsets are tailored just to reduce the waist and are not exerting pressure on the ribcage, so you’re breathing normal.
    Such a corset completely supports your back, it’s relaxing your muscles, it’s yeah, actually like lying down while still standing. And it gives you a great feeling, it turns you into something graceful and elegant, and I think that’s worth the money a good corset costs.

    I’ll stop rambling now, but see, that’s just one of my most favourite subjects. 🙂

    [I could write LOTS about cosmetic surgery and the alarming cult on youth*, but that would be, essentially, redundant. :-)] [* I mean, have you seen photos of Madonna lately?!] [Sorry. I’ll shut up.]

  3. When I was writing about corsets I was thinking about ladies from past centuries who wore corsets every day up to the point where their back muscles were totally degenerated.

    As for high heels, I love to look at them but I’m increasingly doubtful if I want to wear them even once in a while. I’ve never worn a corset though.

  4. I had to wear a corset for a play once. Of course I didn’t have it laced so tight I couldn’t breathe, because then how could I say my lines?…but it was tight enough! No thanks. 🙂

    As for heels…I trip when I wear flats. Or flip flops. Or am barefoot. Just say no to heels!

    And cosmetic surgery (for other than medical reasons, scars and such) is just sad. I wish we could convince the next generation to accept themselves the way they are, to see the beauty that is there instead of dreaming of the beauty that isn’t.

  5. I used to faint as a child anyway, so the corset route was never going to be one for me, but it is crazy what people do in the pursuit of an unattainable airbrushed view of “beauty”. I’d rather be able to laugh and eat pie.

    Although heels- every now and then I like a pair of heels, but I think most shoes are badly made and pay no attention to the person teetering atop the shoe. My flamenco shoes have a 2.5 inch heel, and not only can I wear them for hours at a time but I can dance in them. The closest I’ve found in real shoes are made by Hush Puppies – no pain, very comfortable.

  6. I, too, suspect we haven’t evolved much since the days of corsets. Actually, I think it’s worse, for all the reasons you list, and then some. I would also add crazy dieting to the list… that desperate desire to maintain the weight and body shape of a teenager or young 20-something, no matter how many decades older you might be. So very sad.

  7. i love your blog! i wandered here from truth cycles (another of my faves) and found myself reading and reading. 🙂 i just had a conversation today with my mom about plastic surgery–it is crazy how common it’s become! and who do these people think they’re fooling? until they find some that makes your hands look younger, you can’t hide your age anyway! anyway, happy to have discovered you! i’ll be back!

  8. i think as susanne says a distinction should be made between the corset you can buy in an underwear shop today that keeps you in and helps you to look slightly thinner to the older corset that attempted to reduce a 26 inch waist to a 19″ waist. But then in china you had the situation of bound feet?? the smaller hte feet etc etc. My son thinks make up is stupid and perhaps it is but i could never leave the hosue without it. Cosmetic surgery scares me, non essential major surgery is a ridiculous concept. As you say we all feel ugly, i would like my papery skin on my stomach to disappear and the nasty lines under my eyes that seem to have appeared disappear. Lets not get onto the subject of stretch marks!! BUT, i laugh a lot (although if you read my blog you may doubt that) and i have had children. I have had 36 years of life and it needs to show. (although obviously i spend hidious amounts of money on creams that promise to slow it down we all need a little boost after all)

    I love shoes but not to the point of damaging my knees. I tried a pair of 5 inch Jimmy Choos on two weeks ago for the laugh and my ankes were killing and my knees were on fire just standing up.

  9. I have a friend who has had so much surgery. plus she is collagen and botox obsessed.

    Sad thing is. She was among the genetically blessed to begin with and needed nothing. Now. She just looks wrong.

  10. Hmm, I can’t help but wonder if everyone responding so negatively is comfortable rotund. It always seems on these blogs that the happily complacent people have the most to say about the other searching for healthier, leaner bodies. As far as cosmetic surgery at the age of 16 I had rhinoplasty. Nothing fake, they just trimmed the huge lump off my nose so I could live a somewhat normal life and breathe. I would probably have a facelift if I can afford it when I am in my late 50’s or 60’s because I would want to have a tighter less saggy face for my grandchildren if possible. I don’t and won’t wear a corsett because I don’t wear tight clothes to begin with. But just stop to think in all your criticisms that the wonderful thing about living in America, a virtually free country, is that you are able to choose what is right for you and your body image. Everyone woman or man has the right to dye their hair, fix a sagging face, remove wrinkles and do whatever else they choose to do without being judged. If it’s not for you, don’t do it.

  11. I don’t know why other people love to wear them.There are too many fashionable items that a person can wear.Well,we have different perspective and likes of our own.Maybe those people you are referring like it that way.

  12. Modern corsets are tailored just to reduce the waist and are not exerting pressure on the ribcage, so you’re breathing normal.
    Such a corset completely supports your back, it’s relaxing your muscles, it’s yeah, actually like lying down while still standing.

  13. And it gives you a great feeling, it turns you into something graceful and elegant, and I think that’s worth the money a good corset costs.

  14. Cosmetic surgery scares me, non essential major surgery is a ridiculous concept. As you say we all feel ugly, i would like my papery skin on my stomach to disappear and the nasty lines under my eyes that seem to have appeared disappear.

  15. I believe that cosmetic surgery is specifically concerned with maintaining normal appearance, restoring it, or enhancing it beyond the average level toward some aesthetic ideal, but I do have to agree that it is spiralling out of control to some extent

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