Search volumes new and old about instruments of torture and you will come up with The Rack, Judas Cradle, The Iron Maiden, Brazen Bull, Pear of Anguish, and so on. All of these invented and intended to torture and ultimately kill the guilty, and too often, the innocent. They were built and used in all parts of the ancient world. Some of these cruel devices were implemented for torture even in more modern times. Yes, modern but certainly not more civilized.
Here, I wish to submit, Bras, Girdles and Corsets should be included on this list of torture implements. None of these items were invented by women. No, no, in each case it was a man who believed women would be better off if they wore this type of apparel. Let’s not forget garter belts, braselettes and waist cinchers.
Think back to the early scenes of Gone With The Wind when Hattie McDaniel (Mamie) was admonishing Vivian Leigh (Scarlet O’Hara) to go upstairs with the other young ladies and lie down. For goodness sakes it was the middle of the day and during the height of the party. The young men were all going outside to smoke and chat. The reason the young ladies were going upstairs to rest was they needed their corsets loosened so they could indulge in a few needed moments of breathing. Ever wonder why so many ladies swooned in those days?
Later in that movie, after Scarlet has had her child, Mamie is being scolded by Scarlet that she is not pulling the laces of her corset tight enough. Miss O’Hara wanted to squeeze her waist back to its original eighteen inches. (What did they do with all that gutsy stuff that is supposed to be inside keeping your system operating?)
In the 1950s and 60s women were still wearing girdles with bone stays. These garments were so tight you needed to powder your body to get into them. At the bottom of the girdles were four to six elastic bands dropping down and ending in small rubber and metal fasteners. These fasteners were intended to be secured to the tops of your stockings in order to keep them up. If you had very female, fleshy thighs these little fasteners dug into your legs so hard finally leaving black and blues or little cuts.
No matter your age, everyone has seen those pictures of Betty Grable and Lana Turner in their pin-up pictures. Almost always they were wearing a bra with severe conical cups. If you got poked in the eye with one of those breasts it would surely take your eye out. Do you think they were comfortable? Their boobs were worn so high, today a set could pass for an Egyptian styled Necklace. I was thrilled to burn my bra in the 1960s. Only sorry that nice soft natural breasts are not still in fashion. I would never don another bra again.
Corsets, at the turn of the century, and before, were required pieces of apparel usually worn under the dresses of ladies of fashion. You needed one so that the outer clothing fit properly. Today people wear them for fun. They are made of silk, satin, leather or lace. The colors range from the deepest black to sweet pastels. Decorated with applicades and ruffles. Designers having something else in mind, corsets now barely cover a decent set of ta tas. They are not intended to keep you warm. Rather they are arranged to make others hot. Corsets of today have little practical value. The women who choose to wear these items do it to be sexy, seductive and alluring. (Think Betty Page)
But never does anyone claim that these items are Comfortable.
I truly believe, Bras, Girdles and Corsets should be included on any accurate list of the Instruments of Torture. What say you?