Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself

by Sarah A. Chrisman | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 1632206366 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingelizardbreathwing of Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on 11/19/2017
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingelizardbreathwing from Bella Vista, Arkansas USA on Sunday, November 19, 2017
I purchased this from eBay after reading her book, This Victorian Life. I was fascinated by her lifestyle described in that book, but quite put off by her character. This book is even more shocking in terms of her disgustingly enhanced pomposity, but I think I've figured her out.

Chrisman talks a lot about the "alpha creature" vs. the "subordinate". She also seems to adhere to a lot of pseudo-scientific beliefs about macro-evolution that are just as archaic as the Victorian age she emulates. I seriously think she sees herself as a more evolved human---an alpha species---because she's chosen to believe her lifestyle (what she calls her "research") makes her a more intelligent and better dressed member of society. To put it in plainer terms for all us lesser people: she thinks she's better than us.

I don't want this review to be all about how much I can't stand this woman, but that's pretty much all I could think about as I read this book. So, before I launch into a more vehement rage than I did for her last book, let me expound on the parts of this one that I did like.

Her conclusions on corset wearing were delightfully surprising. There seem to be many happy benefits: a much trimmer waist, better posture and back support, help with portion control, not to mention a better appearance and self-image. I was also very encouraged to seize the day when it comes to doing the things I want to do but am afraid to because of the opinion of others. I don't have a HUGE problem doing my own thing, but I do have some hangups about my appearance. I feel like I can be more bold in presenting myself the way I desire to, rather than worrying about fitting into someone's mold.

Now...Chrisman started right in with the arrogance. On one hand, I understand she and her husband are offended by those who could so bungle the art of dressing Victorian with plastic jewelry and synthetic fiber, on the other hand---SHE is NOT a VICTORIAN!!! They are playing a game---just like the other reenactors they come across. She gets so angry when someone calls her clothing a "costume" because people who wear costumes are people who play pretend. Um. Reforming your entire existence to emulate people who lived over 100 years ago---all while selectively living, working, and interacting with the 21st century---if that's not playing pretend, I don't know what is!

I get a sense she feels she and Gabriel are "real Victorians" while others are just play-acting. Get a grip, lady! You are a 21st century woman deeply involved in an extreme form of historical pretend. You drive a DeLorean, for crying out loud! Leave others alone about how they choose to engage in this game and they'll leave you alone about how you do.

In every encounter, (often besides, but not completely excluding personal friends) she runs down everyone from her own mother to a woman who accidentally swished her long ponytail into cupcake frosting. These put-downs are never necessary, but someone who sees herself as superior must continuously put down others in order to keep up appearances. The only people she speaks positively about are children and those who compliment and are sympathetic to her.

She is so specific with her descriptions and put-downs that I can't imagine she's gained many friends in the PNW community---unless they're all just as snotty and judgemental as she. As I said in my review of This Victorian Life, decent people likely aren't mean to her because of how she dresses---they're probably disillusioned by the way she acts. There's more to being a lady than dressing like one. Give me a smiling "rotund" plastic-clad reenactor, any day, over a white-washed high school bully in a more accurate costume.

Sending to emmejo. Enjoy!

To the finder of this book:

This book is gift, no strings attached, from me to you. You may keep it forever, pass it along to a friend, or release it into the wild to be found by someone else.

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Thanks, and Happy BookCrossing! :)

Journal Entry 3 by emmejo at Trumansburg, New York USA on Thursday, August 16, 2018
This just arrived; thank you! I've heard a lot of criticisms of the author and her projects, most of which sound pretty warranted, but I still find the concepts interesting enough to want to find out more. From elizardbreath's review, it sounds like it will need to be a read while in a tolerant mood!

Journal Entry 4 by emmejo at Cortland, New York USA on Saturday, December 08, 2018
Reading this was quite the roller-coaster! I fully agree with elizardbreath that the author seemed like a very unpleasant person. Her depiction of her rage when a bus driver accidentally damages her gown would have been comical if it weren't for the fact that there are far too many overly-entitled people like herself raising hell for their unsuspecting targets and I just felt bad for the driver. She takes snobbery to an extreme, and I can hardly blame anyone for giving her a wide berth with that attitude. Perhaps she needs a little time browsing Gothic Charm School for info on how folks in alternative cultures can interact in a human manner with us uninitiated plebs. I found it particularly disheartening when she was nasty to people new to historical dress or reenactment for not getting everything perfectly to her standards. Being nice and also informative would have been such a better way to introduce them to the idea of pushing their work to be more accurate.

My biggest issue with this book was also the same as elizardbreath; her alarmingly unscientific and un-fact-checked (but catchy!) claims made me very frustrated. There were a couple times I actually had to set the book down and give myself a moment to recover from the pseudo-science (and pseudo-history!) I had just read, and I felt vaguely horrified that anyone with such a bad grasp of basic biology was in massage school. There is reliable info mixed in too, but I would highly recommend any reader take her statements with a large grain of salt and some independent research.

Still, I found the basic concept of her exploration of corseting and donning clothing that the rest of the world considers old-fashioned engaging enough to keep me going. I don't wear a corset on a regular basis, but do have a couple for retro or period clothing that needs structured undergarments to fit right, and I also have worn them for support at times when my scoliosis has been particularly painful. (Face it, a steel-boned corset is much better-looking for a night out dancing than a back-brace!)

Journal Entry 5 by emmejo at Little Free Library #47780 in Ithaca, New York USA on Thursday, January 03, 2019

Released 2 wks ago (1/3/2019 UTC) at Little Free Library #47780 in Ithaca, New York USA


I plan to drop this book off in the LFL this afternoon

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