Difficulties of Wearing a Corset

Written by cee donohue
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Difficulties of Wearing a Corset
Women used to try to achieve a 16-inch waist by wearing a corset. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Corsets were a common fashion item worn to accentuate a woman's waistline. This was achieved with tight lacing in the back of the corset. Health problems arose in the 19th century when the corsets were reinforced with whale bone. Doctors urged women to stop wearing them, but many women chose fashion over health and suffered as a result. Although corset-wearing doesn't have health risks, the tight lacing can cause problems.


Due to the tight lacing, a woman's ability to breathe easily can be restricted. If a corset is too tight, it only allows the top of the lungs to fill with air leaving the bottom of the lungs to fill with mucous. As a result, a persistent cough can develop for some women. In the 19th century, women were also known to faint because they were unable to breathe properly. Smelling salts were a common household item because of this.


A tight corset can also affect the internal organs if it's worn consistently over a period of time. The stomach, liver and intestines can become misshapen, and the corset can have an adverse effect on digestion and also cause heartburn. If a corset is low-waisted, it can also put pressure on the bladder, causing bladder infections. The pressure on the intestines can result in constipation. In the 19th century, some women had trouble bearing children due to the compression of the organs.


A properly fitting corset allows you to eat normal amounts of food, but if the lacing is too tight, it can restrict your ability to eat normally. As with any clothes that are too tight, eating becomes uncomfortable, but because a corset can squeeze and flatten your stomach into an abnormal position, it keeps it from functioning properly. In the past, women would sacrifice proper eating habits, which resulted in a lack of nutrition.

Posture and Movement

Prolonged wearing of a corset also affects the muscles in the back that support posture and allow you to do tasks such as bending over and picking things up. A tight corset can cause the muscles to decrease in size and even start to deteriorate. The loss of muscle strength in this area can leave a woman unable to go without a corset and cause posture and lower back problems.

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