The tyranny of the corset

July 25, 2020

I have been thinking about traditions. A friend confessed to me yesterday she is a strong believer and fond of certain conventions: from hand-writing love letters to formal marriage proposals, or cutlery etiquette and formal attires for every single occasion, either with or without a social reception.

We went to see the Russian Court’s Jewelry exhibition at the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam and we both couldn't help but imagine ourselves dressing impeccably albeit with unbreathable gowns made to squeeze the waist; dresses also made to be worn in harmony with hands, ears and neck embellished with one-of-a-kind stones; not forgetting to cover our heads with the most spectacular custom-made diadems, full of meanings and power.

I also love traditions and I could easily picture myself living in the Art Nouveau period. The forms and colours that come along with this art movement, the arousal of fascinating painters and the splendour of cerimonies must have been a privilege for spectators in that time.

As much as I admire everything about it, there’s one particular detail strong enough to ruin my dream: I couldn’t stand the idea of obeying traditions, especially the ones which underline men’s rights over women. I guess we are all born when we are supposed to be.


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