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Portrait of Louise Jopling by John Everett Millais, 1879

One of numerous distinguishing qualities of a Victorians is erect posture. It was a form of etiquette, separating the Haves from the Have-Nots. As with anything related to manners, it was an overt representation of good breeding. The English prided themselves in all manners of restraint and self-discipline on every level; from the emotional to the physical. Granted, this penchant for posture did not start in the 1800s, but began in the 17th century.

There is an old saying, paraphrased here as the straighter the posture the nearer to God. A term later used to tie in moral straightness to stiff posture.

The way a person carried themselves subtly dictated to the world how they were to be treated. In other words, with respect, for surely there were a person of ‘good standing,’ moral, confident, clean, grace and honest. While, it is natural to assume the woman’s corset played a critical role, the idea of straight posture long precedes the fashion accessory. Although, the corset did prove very helpful in attaining the desire posture for women with little effort.

Some historians claim the initial impetus of ‘correct’ posture was to train young boys from a very early age, should they go into service for the Crown. Doctors began touting the health benefits of proper posture. The proper alignment of the body alleviates a multitude of ills and pains, from slipped disks, back aches, back pain, blood circulation, neck pains, nerve problems, chest pressure and muscle strain. Good posture increases focus. Oh, and it also facilitates breathing. Always a good thing.

Now, why do I mention this? I purchased a posture-corrector. My main and most pressing reason is for my wedding. Although, I do have a slight roundness to my shoulders being a tall girl growing up. Generally, though I aim to become “more Victorian.” I figure I dip my toe into the process.

There are different ways to train. One school of thought say to began loosely and wear it for as long as possible during the day or force yourself to wear it all day. Over the days or weeks, as it becomes comfortable, to tighten the apparatus and so on and so forth. The other school says to have it at the ideal alignment right from the beginning but only wear it for one hour a week. The next week, wear it for two hours and increase the hour as the weeks go by. I will be following the latter. I began this past Sunday. After one hour, I discovered a few things:

  1. I probably should adjust the left strap as I seem to be losing feeling/blood flow in that arm/hand. It wasn’t overly painful, it came gradually, so it took me a minute to figure what was going on.
  2. To compensate for this new position, my body’s natural response was to hunch my shoulders to my ears, instead of having them pressed down and back. In essence, I was resisting and doing the exact opposite.–Silly body. I must have a talk with it to stop that.
  3. With the ear hunching, it turns out when I am a bit uncomfortable, I tend to hold my breath. I forgot about this, since I stopped working about a year ago. Yes, I must learn to breath properly again. Breathing would be helpful.

I shall keep you posted on my development and after twelve weeks, I should have a posture like a princess. Or maybe I will have welts on my shoulders . . . or scrunched neck . . . or be blue in the face from lack of breathing. But HOPEFULLY, I shall have the posture of a princess. . . .

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