M2004X.6.5.24 | A Perfect Figure without Danger to Health, Secured by Wearing the Platinum Anti Corset

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A Perfect Figure without Danger to Health, Secured by Wearing the Platinum Anti Corset
1891, 19th century
7.6 x 6 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  advertisement (9) , Print (10661) , Sign and symbol (2669)
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Keys to History

This advertisement introduced a product that presented itself as an alternative to the corset: "A PERFECT FIGURE WITHOUT DANGER TO HEALTH. Secured by Wearing the PLATINUM ANTI CORSET (patented no. 14, 796). A Health Bodice. The "Platinum" Bones gives perfect support. No more danger of syncope from Tight-lacing."

Towards the end of the 19th century, doctors were becoming increasingly preoccupied with disease prevention in addition to healing. Consequently, the corset became an object of their concern in the field of women's health. Excessively-tight lacing was creating serious problems, particularly with respect to breathing, blood circulation, digestion and the uterus.

In reaction to doctors' aggressive arguments against the wearing of corsets, manufacturers, sometimes in consultation with doctors, designed a number of new products said to be less harmful to women's health. Barely concealing their fear of seeing the corset disappear entirely, manufacturers of corsets and products such as "the Anti-corset" put forth their arguments through newspaper advertisements.

  • What

    This advertisement was placed in a newspaper that targeted a female readership. Reflecting a number of Victorian ideas, the newspaper addressed questions of etiquette, ladies fashion, home wear, culture, politics and social themes.

  • Where

    The Queen : The Lady's Newspaper and Court Chronicles was published in London. It was available in Canada in the late 19th century.

  • When

    This advertisement illustrates the method by which manufacturers of women's underwear responded to information from a growing number of physicians on the negative effects of corsets.

  • Who

    Despite their negative effects and their criticism by doctors and others, corsets were not abandoned by women. Instead, women remained sensitive to manufacturers' claims.