Where Have All the Girdles Gone?

There is a great article in the NY Times T Magazine that I just stumbled upon today:

Belt Tightening

Where are the girdles of yesteryear? The ones women of all ages once wore as a matter of course, huffing and puffing as they tugged at the reinforced elastic and lace, the better to encase their bodies to trimmest effect. The ones that were so pivotal that the 19th-century sexologist Havelock Ellis felt compelled to weigh in, insisting that girdles were ‘‘morphologically essential’’ because the evolution from ‘‘horizontality to verticality’’ was more difficult for women than for men. (Without them, Ellis grandly theorized, ‘‘woman might be men. (Without them, Ellis grandly theorized, ‘‘woman might be physiologically truer to herself if she went always on all fours’’ rather than try to imitate men by ‘‘standing erect.’’) How is it, then, as I discovered when I went in quest of a girdle, that this once culturally mandated undie has disappeared from the sartorial landscape like so much melted snow?
I remember the fascination girdles used to hold for me as a child growing up in the ’60s, the unvarying feminine ritual of them, taken on — or so it seemed to me — as a burdensome birthright. It might have been catching a glimpse of the pinkish rubbery garment with hooks and eyes up the front, custom-made by a European corsetiere, that my grandmother used to wear under her button-down shirtdresses when she came for her annual visit from Tel Aviv. Or watching as my mother prepared to go out for an evening, stuffing herself into a less sweat-inducing but still body-transforming version before she bent down to fasten her stockings to the garters, and then, looking like an apparition out of ‘‘The Blue Angel,’’ walked into her bathroom to apply makeup. Where had my mother’s mercurial ungirdled self gone to, I wondered. Did her inner dimensions change along with the outer, becoming more streamlined and compact? In my mind there was something immutably glamorous and grown-up about the very confinement of a girdle, demonstrating that you were no longer an indecorous girl but a woman, willing to suffer extreme discomfort in aid of — let’s strip to the bare truth of it — capturing and keeping the male gaze.

Read the rest of the great article here

And if you're interested in trying out a girdle on your own(you'll thank yourself), here are some of the best websites:

magnolia hosiery

1 comment:

50sgal said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and believe you me, I needed the list of a place to purchase more girdles. Hand washing mine and letting air dry on the shower curtain rail with my stockings, will soon become old news, I am sure. Come join me again in 1955 if u get the chance. I like your blog.