Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
Fashion extremes have had pens stuck in them since Eve found a couple cute fig leaves. With reason. This is decades pre-war ( 1829 ), lampooning the corset craze. 40 years later no one seems to have worried much. We still laced ourselves into disarranging ribs. One of my favorite images, Hathitrust.
One fairly restrained article denouncing tightly laced corsets. There are dozens. It genuinely was a crazy fashion- doctors published endless warnings.
It's always seemed to me our female ancestors have so much convoluted legend attached to their stories it's tough disentangling various threads. They were delicate, hot house creatures given to swooning AND tough as nails, capable women who lived to be 108 while raising livestock and great grandchildren while knitting small houses. You know what I mean.
Here's something making you a little thoughtful. Guessing it was both. There's a possible reason- different lifestyles ( and this is just, plain conjecture, no claims otherwise ). Our farm wife ancestors tended to not be ' women of fashion '. Yes, they'd have had more sheer physical work than their fashionable peers but that's not it. Pretty serious when I say being one of the women of fashion whose images seem so enchanting was risky stuff.
A day in the life.
Women in the process of cementing arsenic paste over their faces, arms and er, bosums. To achieve a coveted whiter-than-white status.
Arsenic. Did a thread on how a woman's trip to the beauty salon included a process much valued to enhance how very, very white they were. ' Enameling ' was a process whereby you were kinda cemented over, various ingredients slathered over one's face, bosum and arms. Intent was WHITE, the whiter the better. *sigh*. Implications there are depressing but it's what we did. Arsenic was a chief ingredient. No idea why but can anyone imagine what in blazes happened when you literally wore the stuff?
Happy with one's extreme whiteness, you'd get dressed. We were still eons away from ensuring what we wore didn't kill you. Dyes were becoming less plant based, MUCH more chemically based. Example is a dye called " Paris Green ". So toxic there's a reason poor Mary Tepe chose it as her means to commit suicide, it was used for everythinggggg. Paper, wall paper, faux greenery used in bonnets ( milliners were prone to early deaths ) and yes, dresses.
Once again newspapers and medical journals exploded- warnings, pleadings and appalling facts went nowhere. Paris Green wasn't the only offender, apparently the most lethal. This country did not stop importing Paris Green until 1920.
Then of course we had crinoline. Warnings did seem to have an effect- despite all the charming images we still love in 2019, it was a killer. Literally. Between 1858 and 1866 or so enough tragedies blazed across headlines to sink in. Really, they were awful. Several threads on it already so won't beat a dead hoop.
One of the milder cartoons lampooning hoops as extreme fashion.
There's more- riding habits so voluminous in fabric women were dragged to death either when they fell off, skirts catching on saddles or even passing carriages. Awful stories out there. Let's see, spun glass used to ornament coiffures and hats? Unsurprisingly easily shattered. wearers blinded. OH and back to arsenic dissolved in water- which made your skin glow.... .
Like I said, sheer conjecture, far too many variables to consider but seems safe to say the length of one's life when launching into the fashionable world seems questionable compared with the girls home milking cows, raising chickens and far removed from chasing beauty. Risky stuff.