Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Corset: "Don't let any opportunity go to waist"

St Pauli Girl Beer Mascot


I thought it would be fun to write a few blogs every once in awhile starting with looking at the different things women have done throughout history in the name of fashion and then take a look at what we are currently doing in the name of fashion.

Fashion has and always will have a dark side. I think this dark side is not only very interesting but also something we should all be able to reflect on.

So, let’s start with the corset. The corset is probably one of the longest running torture devices in fashion history. The earliest indication of a corset was found in an image from 2000 BC depicting a Cretan woman wearing what appears to be a corset as outerwear. When the word corset is mentioned, however, we don’t think Cretan, we immediately think Victorian. Just as the exaggeratedly broad shoulders began to fall from favor in the mid 1800’s a clinched waist was another way to get the same hourglass appearance. An hourglass appearance that not only has been tied to hysteria and liver failure but also that remained in fashion until the 1980s when I found myself working as a hostess in New York City. That’s when I had my first, and thankfully only, experience with the corset.
Corsets

It was during a small modeling job in New York as the Saint Pauli Girl (she’s a beer mascot). I was initially “discovered” hosting at the front desk of a restaurant called Luchow’s in New York City. They thought I looked like the girl on the bottle and my short, corset filled career as a model had began.

I had to dress up as a German barmaid on the Saint Pauli Girl’s bottle. The job included photo shoots and parading around at promotional events. It was a great gig while it lasted. At one of the events I ended up on “Live at Five”, an evening TV show in the New York City area. A man with a funny bow tie (I forget his name) was the interviewer, everyone in Manhattan would be able to recognize him. The room was crowded and slightly hot, and despite it being my interview I had been told exactly what to say and when to say it.
Me as the St Pauli Girl Mascot

I see him strolling towards me with a camera man tailing just behind. Strangely I didn’t feel nervous, probably because I was twenty at the time and felt quite invincible. After some small talk he started the interview with the big question I had been rehearsing over and over in my head. “Why do you have radishes hanging off your belt?”

My big moment was here at last! “Because,” I said with confidence in my voice “in Germany we eat radishes with our beer, instead of potatoes chips like here in America.” I did it perfectly with a beautiful smile and all.

“Did someone tell you to say that?” He mockingly questioned further.

“Yes,” I laugh “of course they did, do you think I would have known that?” I continued laughing until I notice the small red light is still illuminated on the front panel of the camera. It was still rolling and I was going to be in big trouble. “You’re not going to use that are you?” I fumbled. He just smiled and adjusted his bowtie.

Hours later, I’m at my restaurant job preparing for the waterfall of trouble that will stem from “Live at Five” when it airs. I think about how much trouble they must have gone through to get that spot on his show and they’d soon realize how badly I had botched it up.
Looking at the outside of Luchow's

These worries are interrupted when the front desk phone rings “Luchow’s,” I answered “what can I do for you?” To my surprise, however, I hear my Saint Pauli Girl Beer boss’s voice. Before he can say anything I feverishly start apologizing for my mistake. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I know how hard you…”

Inside Luchow's Restaurant
He interrupts me with laughter and says “that’s the most free airtime we’ve ever gotten!” We both started to laugh, completely ignoring the fact that I had just embarrassed myself in front of most of New York City.

So, I have totally digressed from the subject of the corset. What I was going to tell you before my story is that it doesn’t hurt too much when you put it on, you’ll need to find a sadistic friend to help tighten it, otherwise it won’t pull in your waist very much, and that the pain occurs after you take the corset off. You start to gasp for air and the pain is immense as your ribs expand. I don’t know how Victorian women could have worn corsets for years.

Below you’ll find an image of what a corset does to your inter organs if worn for a long enough period of time. 
Illustration of the damage received from wearing at corset long term.


                                         Click on picture below for a brief history of the corset.


Illustration of the damage received from wearing at corset long term.
In my next blog I’ll talk about a disturbing new fashion trend in Eastern Europe which involves a very small waist. 







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