• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 06

The Corset’s Many Regrets

Sometimes I’d wonder,
I’d wonder why,

I’m shaped as such.
So impractical. So much.

Who am I?

I understand my history.
The patriarchy.
Male-dictated perceptions.
Expectations of femininity.
Periods. Hard Stops.

Do not breathe.

I breathe.

Consume my reflection,
in mirrors (amidst eras)
of male domination.

Undersized waists.
Freedoms denied.

Hues of pearly white.
Ivory bones. Rows of clasps.
Metal grasps. Eyes and
eyelets watching.

I conform(ed).


The Corset’s Many Regrets

Myself a trendsetter.
Of truths untold.

A shape-sorting undergarment.

A fool.

A tool to restrict rights.
Hung, strung on hangers.
As hunger boiled
while women were served
hypocrisy of unnatural forms.

With women secure.
Secure inside

the Home.

Never at home.

Grasps. Clasps.
Masks. Sutures.
The silhouette of no one.
Organs tore.

Regrets pooled.

In the 1880s and 1890s,
a medical journal, the Lancet
warned of my dangers.
Sacred Heart Review, too.

Restriction hurts.

Hard stop. Heartbeats.
Like skull-shaping. And
bound feet.


The Corset’s Many Regrets

sometimes I’d wonder
I’d wonder why,

I felt alone.

even when fully,
fully clothed.

In time, I’d watch,
as I, attire, would become more.
More than before

of blood
of bloomers
of street protesters
of paisley patterns
of reformers
of new forms

Now I believe. I’m more.
More symbol than not.
Less satire. More tool.

A rare appearance


A question
not of wear, but where.

Of fists.
Of firsts.


The Corset’s Many Regrets

Of regrets.
Of relentless thirsts.

For more. Always, in-store. For women. For rights.

15 (plus) reasons to remember the corset’s layered dangers (and multiple threads of regret):

1. While fashion figures and trends cycles, tight lacing and truths linger in layers.
2. Depending on use, looms and dressing rooms are as much utility as futility.
3. William Henry Flowers explained the risks of an organ’s restricted pulse.
4. Blooms and blossoms require fresh air, sun, and free-flowing water to form.
5. The corset inspired innumerably more health challenges than fashion forms.
6. Anatomy is neither clay to mold nor a collection to conform.
7. Strings of syllables shimmer even as pearls pool in bacteria-ridden puddles.
8. Eyelets and eyewitnesses share suspicious similarities.
9. With all eyes on clasps and eyelets, the patriarchy focuses its grasp.
10. As unnatural forms restrict breathing, gasps (and grasps) grow in number.
11. blood flows form new ponds and novel pressures.
12. As shaping devices conspire, figures of speech and of form are often misdirected.
13. Dress and address are different words. Sometimes noun. Sometimes verb.
14. Only forms of speech, not attire, should have the power to leave its wearer breathless.
15. To dress should be as much a freedom as a personal vote. Unprompted. Unprovoked.