Can Wearing a Corset be a Feminist Statement?

Since its inception, the corset has been so closely intertwined with the idealized concept of a woman’s body and sexuality that it’s hard to separate it from that fact. The slim waist, wide hips and lifted bust that corsets provided were all indicators of sexual health and were used to garner male attention.

With the corset being a lightning rod for idealized women’s sexuality, can it actually be a feminist move to wear a corset?

Some people think so.

The inversion of the corset came in the 1980s when the sexual history of the corset wasn’t hidden or cast away, but embraced. It was during this time that Jean Paul Gauthier famously dressed Madonna in a pink corset with conical breasts that became an incredibly famous piece. Before this, Vivienne Westwood started designing corsets as outerwear and removed their hidden power by making them ironic and exposed, often worn above leggings or over sweatshirts. The corset in the 80s was the evening equivalent to the world of power suits.

The corset has remained the only item of clothing that can truly shape the body it’s on: forcing the flesh to conform to a strict standard. While this could (and has) been seen as the perfect sociological example of women being controlled by an item of clothing they were made to wear by men, is it really the case now?

Now, women in power who are shaping their own destinies and making their own money are wearing corsets. While it used to be that a woman had to rely on a man for everything from shelter to finances to even lacing their corsets, the new wearers of corsets like Kim Kardashian, are financial powerhouses overseeing vast businesses and using their sexuality to further their place in the world. The corset is still seen as a sexual item, but instead of controlling the women wearing it, it is becoming a beacon of sexual freedom and choice.

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