Download e-book for iPad: Bound to Please by Leigh Summers

By Leigh Summers

ISBN-10: 0585435693

ISBN-13: 9780585435695

ISBN-10: 1859735304

ISBN-13: 9781859735305

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American women were as much silenced by pregnancy taboos as their British sisters. Elizabeth Edson Evans, author of The Abuse of Maternity published in 1875, wrote that American women often avoided ‘speaking of their situation’ to their nearest relatives or most intimate friends. Pregnancy was ‘apt to go on under the unwholesome shadow of a great silence . . and the candidate for maternal honours [was] so often ashamed of her altered form and countenance as to shun the sight of acquaintances’.

Male patentees invariably claimed that their inventions and patterns were conceived to increase the comfort of the corseted body, but a close (and gendered) examination of patents lodged by men actually reveals that 26 Bound to Please TO VIEW THIS FIGURE PLEASE REFER TO THE PRINTED EDITION ‘Elegance, Comfort, Durability’ Figure 12 Patent submitted by Fanny Gibson designed to accommodate the fuller figure. ’ Figure 13 ‘The Duchess’ corset, unlike Gibson’s design, retained its hour-glass shape though intended for the fuller figure.

Although Amesbury claimed the garment supported the body of the pregnant woman, in actuality it effectively upheld and supported the prevailing ideology that demanded its invisibility. Straps, buckles, laces and bones on maternity corsetry throughout the century worked to contain and imprison the unruly, fecund body, giving it the appearance of taking up less space, of appearing less ‘offensively’ pregnant. The design of the corset possibly reduced both the body’s ability to expand and certainly the ability to move about with ease, thereby hindering its liberty in both private sphere and public arena.

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Bound to Please by Leigh Summers


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