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Before Spanx and Push-Up Bras: 13 Photos of 1940s-Era Corsets Will Take Your Breath Away (Literally)

By Meredith Carroll |

1940s corset

Low beams, high beams

Many women would likely agree there’s a price to be paid for beauty. Then they wrestle on their first pair of Spanx and decide that if any friends really dislike them because of their back fat, they were never really friends in the first place.

Spank, push-up bras and other spandex-laden materials designed to pull us in and push us out in just the right places are great, unless your ultimate objective is to breathe or bend down. In which case they’re awful.

The thing is, they used to be way worse. Like a-southern-belle-from-another-century-who-needed-a-team-of-big-burly-men-to-sew-her-into-her-corset kind of worse.

Be happy you didn’t live in the 1940s and weren’t made to feel like you needed to wear one of these bras or corsets:

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Before and After Corset Photos Reveal Neither was Ideal

Mirror, mirror on the wall

This angle really isn't the fairest one of all.

All photos used with permission from

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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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3 thoughts on “Before Spanx and Push-Up Bras: 13 Photos of 1940s-Era Corsets Will Take Your Breath Away (Literally)

  1. Kim says:

    Honestly, it looks to me like most of those are helping with proper posture and chest support. I’d pay good money for something that kept my girls that perky!

  2. lam says:

    I have worn a few corsets, and the support is totally awesome, especially without the annoying itchy bits of fabric around the underwire. Now the heat, that’s a problem.

  3. lealu says:

    I have to wonder if you’ve ever worn or held a corset. These items aren’t all corsets. While a number of the have boning the majority are made from newly developed elastics as a turn of the century alternative to corseting. Speaking from experience these garments are not uncomfortable, and you can breathe easily while wearing them. Maybe try something before bashing it.

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