From the Delineator, 1909.. Charlotte C. West MD
"Throw that into the furnace when you get home," was the invariable comment of a noted medical man, as with disdainful gesture he indicated the corset of each clinical patient who was presented to him for examination, at the same time casting a sidelong glance of disapproval a this woman assistant, who was always well corseted.
The woman physician worked along silently in the clinic until an opportunity enabled her to show one of the patients that her condition, gastroposis or falling of the intestines and stomach, was caused by the improper use of her corset.
"But I can't do without my corset," wailed the patient.
"The improper use, not the use of it,"answered the woman doctor.
The male doctor suggested the woman doctor write up the subject of the corset from a medical point of view.
...How long have women worn some form of garment such as that now termed a corset? For centuries. So is it reasonable to assert that an article of apparel which has for centuries withstood the shafts of ridicule, possesses some extraordinary virtue and has not been dependent upon vanity for its survival through the ages.
In man, because of the erect posture, the abdomen is undoubtedly the most vulnerable portion of the body, and all are agreed that its natural supports are an insufficient protection for the organs which they cover. What happens:A gradual shifting of the stomach, liver or kidneys from their moorings, they descend, gravitate toward the lower abdominal zone.
Physicians who have made a study of such conditions find that many cases of neurasthenia, irritable spine, chronic headache, backache, are due to prolapsed abdominal organs and can be corrected, not by surgery, but by properly fitted articial supports.
With a properly fitted corset, one unconsciously assumes the ideally erect posture. Every corset and every abdominal supporter should encircle the upper thighs and pelvis, and be fitted upon the person who is to wear it... Metchnikoff, the geat biologist, in his "Prolongation of Life" shows that women live longer than men, and this irrespective of station or race and since women from every walk of life wear some kind of corset, it is not fair to presume that it is has not been an agency for harm? On the contrary, who can say that he longevity of women may not be dependent upon the beneficient effect of the much maligned corset."
Well, some pretty silly arguments. Corsets served a number of purposes. They made the boobs and hips seem larger (which men apparently like). And according to one academic, while corsets for men were a great equalizer, women's corsets set them up for competition one against the other. Well, that's nothing new.
But, remember, Protestantism was all about self-control. A corset meant you were in control, not a 'loose woman' literally. Here's a little thing I found in a 1893 Montreal Witness, the evangelical newspaper the Nicholsons read:
The corset (may its shadow never be less) is the root of morality, self-respect and health. It braces up the moral energies as much as it does the physical; many a slatternly Blowsabella that we see lurching along the pavement in a slum would take an entirely different view of life; and its responsibilities if she were put into a properly built corset.
But the corset had to go: women were out working, moving about in offices and running for the tram. And then came a Huge War, killing so many young men, so women had to shake their booty to get the attention of the few eligible men out there. The Flapper Era!
But don't make fun of great great-grandma. Women are fed similar nonsense today....We're fatter than ever, because of our sedentary lifestyle and atrocious diets and yet the media sets up super skinny girl/women as 'ideals.' And all that Pilates!