Victorian Secrets

Victorian Secrets

What A Corset Taught Me About the Past, the Present, and Myself

eBook - 2013
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On Sarah A. Chrisman's twenty-ninth birthday, her husband, Gabriel, presented her with a corset. The material and the design were breathtakingly beautiful, but her mind immediately filled with unwelcome views. Although she had been in love with the Victorian era all her life, she had specifically asked her husband not to buy her a corsetever. She'd heard how corsets affected the female body and what they represented, and she wanted none of it.However, Chrisman agreed to try on the garment . . . and found it surprisingly enjoyable. The corset, she realized, was a tool of empowermentnot oppression. After a year of wearing a corset on a daily basis, her waist had gone from thirty-two inches to twenty-two inches, she was experiencing fewer migraines, and her posture improved. She had successfully transformed her body, her dress, and her lifestyle into that of a Victorian womanand everyone was asking about it.In Victorian Secrets, Chrisman explains how a garment from the past led to a change in not only the way she viewed herself, but also the ways she understood the major differences between the cultures of twenty-first-century and nineteenth-century America. The desire to delve further into the Victorian lifestyle provided Chrisman with new insight into issues of body image and how women, past and present, have seen and continue to see themselves.
Publisher: New York : Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., [2013]
ISBN: 9781628735628
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xii, 240 pages.)
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Jun 26, 2017

I would recommend this book to people who are curious about the counterargument that corsets were harmful to Victorian women or if they are interested in people who are apart of an alternative lifestyle. As a person who has a background in Civil War re-enactment and has worn period corsets for a prolonged amount of time I could find myself agreeing with some of her arguments and sympathize with her when others weren't being as accurate as she hoped.
However I also agree that the author can come across as whiny and snobby at times though there are a good many in the re-enactment community who have a similar attitude. I don't believe she is wishing to come off as such but many times when defending such an unpopular viewpoint you can come across as preachy and snobby.
I think if you can look past those moments or even look at them objectively then you get a very unique insight into a subculture who is attempting to not only keep some of the past alive but also writing what they truly feel and experience. And perhaps while she may not appeal to everyone I commend the author for giving us a true account of how she feels events happened instead of glossing over incidents or rewriting them to make her look good. We all have moments we are not proud of and the fact she puts her mistakes in the book was a nice change.
So while there are some cringe worthy moments I ultimately thought in the end that the book was great and made me think about my own corset experiences as well as my experiences with the re-enactment community. Would recommend but only if they can read objectively and are willing to do some research themselves to decide whether her argument is valid or not.

blooper Sep 23, 2015

I agree with rbeckbro's review. The author really had very little content that might be considered "Victorian Secrets" and much more about her petty squabbles. I'd also add that her decision to wear a steel-boned corset through airport security and needlessly tie-up agents (seemingly just to have a story to add to the book) is incredibly thoughtless and she should have been fined for doing so. There is some value in the book but too much of it is her negative attitude toward others--even those attempting to be of help to her.

May 14, 2015

DO NOT READ THIS. And by saying this, I'm sure you are intrigued. Please don't. I thought I could ignore, having read the negative reviews in advance, the complete horribleness that is the author. Until halfway through the book, I was willing to give this three stars, so let me start there.

Three stars for being much too autobiographical about absolutely nothing useful. More information about actually wearing a corset (outside the daily struggles she "endured"), how it is worn, and even summaries of the research she was obviously doing would have been much more interesting than her ranting on about EVERY OTHER HUMAN SHE ENCOUNTERED. There's VERY few nuggets of potentially good information, but it turns out to be more painful to get to that than the experience/information is worth.

I'll also say that I was really intrigued by the concept of wearing a corset and that style of clothing. But I am SO TURNED OFF ON THE IDEA now because I do not EVER want the possibility of becoming what the author is. She's so belittling of EVERYONE: the folks that try to understand, the folks that are nice to her, the folks that DON'T understand. Even her own MOTHER. She calls a bus driver a savage. She is such a horrible person; we should all bask in the glow of her SUPERIORITY, us being a lesser race than she.

Don't don't DON'T read this. I was nearly in tears being dragged though the last third of the book (we were reading it together and saw it to its dreadful end). Don't BUY it, don't give this "lady" any sort of power or income for being as awful as she is. If I saw her in the street, I would smack her hard across her face for every one of those poor folk that tried to be nice to her (but are all described as either meek or ignorant, beneath her in any way possible).

Nov 27, 2014

I highly recommend this book for anyone who may be interested in corsetry, the victorian era, an inspiring journey, or all of the above! As a modern lady interested in corsetry, I could empathize with the dirty looks and false information presented to her, but she just takes it all in stride with her head held high. Once I started I couldn't put this book down, I hope it will inspire many other people to look at the past through a different, more positive lens.

Jan 30, 2014

When I heard about this book, I was enchanted by the premise: a modern-day woman embracing a Victorian aesthetic. When I managed to track down a copy, I was delighted to find that the author had also included research on the history of corsets and other Victorian garments.

Unfortunately, the author's disdainful attitude taints these good points irretrievably. Even among the background of declaring the entire modern medical profession "so close-minded" and mocking people who create historical costumes out of thrift store finds and anachronistic fabrics, there stands out one particularly disturbing episode in which the author wears a silk antique petticoat on a bus trip. When she (predictably) tears a ruffle, she then berates the "low-class" bus driver who tries to help her by tearing the ruffle off. I can understand getting upset at people who tear your clothes, but I wouldn't advise doing it after mocking the people who advise against wearing antique clothing outside, and I certainly wouldn't class the offender as someone who should be "f***ing removed from the gene pool".

This wash of negative emotions, along with several major inaccuracies in historical reporting, made me doubt the rest of the author's historical claims. She made several very good points about the importance for "temporal tolerance" and "temporal ambassadors", but her disdain for the people who approach her to ask questions makes me wonder exactly how effective an ambassador she's being. If I were to have one piece of advice for the author, it would be this: You have a wonderful story to tell, but you seem to be too angry right now to tell it effectively. Lead your Victorian life a few years longer, read A.J. Jacobs' "The Year of Living Biblically" to see how he gracefully handled questions and assumptions, and then consider releasing a new edition.


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Jun 26, 2017

PrimVictorian thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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