Chapter 8 Dance at Grandmother & Grandfather's House
Part 4b: Made themselves pretty - Corsets
Then they pulled on their beautiful white cotton stockings. They had made the stockings with fine cotton thread in a lacy pattern. They also buttoned up their best shoes. They helped each other with their corsets. Aunt Docia pulled as hard as she could on Aunt Ruby's corset strings and then Aunt Docia hung on to the foot of the bed while Aunt Ruby pulled on hers. A corset was a very tight fitting undershirt that squeezed the body into the shape the wearer wanted; they were uncomfortable and often unhealthy to wear for very long.
"Pull, Ruby, pull!" Aunt Docia said, breathlessly. "Pull harder," so Aunt Ruby braced her feet and pulled harder. Aunt Docia kept measuring her waist with her hands and at last she gasped, "I guess that's the best you can do."
She said, "Caroline says Charles could span her waist with his hands, when they were married." Caroline was Laura's Mother and when she heard this Laura felt proud.
I will not try to say that corsets were better than the Chinese practice of binding feet. They were different, but both unhealthy and unnatural demands for women’s beauty. At least corsets caused less long term damage, if they were not continuously worn. Laura did not understand how silly they would seem to future generations. What things of today do you think will seem silly two hundred years later?