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What Hollywood gets wrong about corsets, and how the Victorians actually got a tiny waist

Bernadette Banner, a content creator focused of fashion history, breaks down how Victorians were "masters of illusion."

bernadette banner, victorian era
Bernadette Banner/Youtube

You'll never look at a corset with disdain again.

Usually when we think of corsets, the words suffocation, fainting and shifting organs probably come to mind.

This is certainly what Bernadette Banner has come across in the comments section of her Youtube channel, where she shares all kinds of fashion history education. The general consensus is that Victorian women were either all incredibly tiny or that they went to extremely dangerous lengths to achieve the highly exaggerated signature silhouette of the era, which was to have the bust 10 inches larger than the waist, with the hips 15 inches larger. 34-26-36, for example.

This notion is certainly backed by Hollywood, where we normally see women of that time period being laced up so tightly they can barely breathe, suffering under the crushing weight of whalebone and the patriarchy.


As Banner breaks down in her video below, this is not entirely true. In reality, Victorian women deployed numerous different strategies that are nothing at all like we see in movies. One tactic is, dare I say, shockingly modern.

Tactic #1 Reduction

Okay, so first things first—some women did reduce their waist size through corset use alone. However, Banner notes that this really only worked for those who had a larger, softer, body type. By comparison, people with more athletic or thin body types wouldn’t be able to get much reduction in their waistline, and certainly not without effort, pain and discomfort.

“This is something that Hollywood very often misinterprets when it’s presenting historical periods,” Banner says, saying that normally a very thin actress is cast and then corseted down.

Having a naturally thin person in the role isn’t a problem, she adds, as “every body type existed all throughout history.” The real issue is that costume designers try to further reduce their waists with an uncomfortable corset to achieve an hourglass look, rather than augmenting the hips and the bust.

Which brings us to…

Tactic #2 Augmentation

Why cinch when you can stuff, amirite? This strategy is fairly straightforward

Banner demonstrates this by augmenting her own slim silhouette as she puts on a corset pre-padded at the hips and bust (though padding over the corset was also done…fashion is eternally nuanced). Since the corset is actually very flexible, she can also breathe and move easily.

From here, women would add in frills, fluffs, bustle and petticoats of varying sizes to get the desired ratio.

Tactic #3 Illusion

We’ve discussed clever placements of what goes on under the dress. But Banner explains that Victorians would also create an illusion of an hourglass with their outer garments as well. It’s not coincidence that this time period is when we had the “largest skirts in history,” Banner says. But it’s not just fluffy skirts—there were also puffy sleeves, elongated shoulder lines or shoulder padding, and special jackets, coats and belts to “trick the eye into seeing a very specific shape.”

Banner again demonstrates this scheme as she puts on her skirt with a tight waistband and wide, flat sash. Though with all the layering her waist is about an inch larger than it was before, it nonetheless looks smaller. The contrast is evident when she throws on the blouse and skirts sans the “sculptural understructures.”

Tactic #4 Image Manipulation

That’s right. You thought Photoshop was a new concept? Guess Again!

The ability to manipulate an image has been around almost as long as photography itself, and was “profuse in the late 19th century,” Banner says. Everything from waist shape to facial features to even skin texture could be altered.

Basically, just as you would never trust a too-perfect picture you see on social media, Banner warns you to similarly “never trust a picture of a Victorian. Especially when the waist looks absolutely impossibly tiny.”

And now the real question: Why do we think all Victorian women were tiny?

Banner answers that too. A major reason is the number of tiny garments that have survived from the time period. However, these pieces probably were only worn by young girls for a shorter amount of time, therefore endured less wear and tear.

In conclusion, Victorians were not ubiquitously impossibly small. They were simply masters of illusion, who created a mirage so convincing we still believe it today.

Heightened beauty standards still exist today—the rising popularity of cosmetic procedures is a clear indicator of that. While this might not inherently be a good or bad thing, more and more women are risking their health (not to mention their finances) in order to achieve that which is physically impossible. Banner argues that folks in the 21st century can perhaps take a lesson or two from Victorian women when it comes to achieving seemingly impossible aesthetic ideals without causing oneself harm.

As she astutely put it, “History teaches us that there are other options.”

You can find even more of Banner’s fascinating fashion history videos on Youtube.

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Pop Culture

UPS driver shares his weekly paycheck, and now everyone wants to apply

People are shocked to find out how much delivery drivers make.

@skylerleestutzman/TikTok

People were shocked to find out how much Skyler Stutzman earned as a UPS driver

People are seriously considering switching careers after finding out how much can be made as a UPS delivery driver.

Back in October, Skyler Stutzman, an Oregon-based UPS delivery driver went viral after sharing his weekly pay stub on TikTok.

In the clip, Stutzman showed that for 42 hours of work, and at a pay rate of $44.26 per hour, he earned $2,004 before taxes, and ultimately took home $1,300 after deductions.

This both shocked the nearly 12 million viewers who saw the video…not to mention it stirred their jealousy a bit.

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Do you ever feel like you could be doing more when it comes to making a positive impact on your community? The messaging around giving back is louder than ever this time of year, and for good reason; It is the season of giving, after all.

If you’ve ever wondered who is responsible for bringing many of the giving-back initiatives to life, it’s probably not who you’d expect. The masterminds behind these types of campaigns are project managers.

Using their talents and skills, often proven by earning certifications from the Project Management Institute (PMI), project managers are driving real change and increasing the success rate on projects that truly improve our world.

To celebrate the work that project managers are doing behind the scenes to make a difference, we spoke with two people doing more than their part to make an impact.

In his current role as a Project Management Professional (PMP)-certified project manager and environmental engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Joshua Williard oversees the cleanup of some of America’s most contaminated and hazardous waste sites.

Courtesy of Joshua Williard

“Recently, I was part of a four-person diving team sent to collect contaminated sediment samples from the bottom of a river in Southeastern Virginia. We wanted to ensure a containment wall was successfully blocking the release of waste into an adjacent river,” Williard says.

Through his work, Josh drives restoration efforts to completion so contaminated land can again be used beneficially, and so future generations will not be at risk of exposure to harmful chemicals.

“I’ve been inspired by the natural world from a young age and always loved being outside. As I gained an understanding about Earth's trajectory, I realized that I wanted to be part of trying to save it and keep it for future generations.

“I learned the importance of using different management styles to address various project challenges. I saw the value in building meaningful relationships with key community members. I came to see that effective project management can make a real difference in getting things done and having on-the-ground impact,” Williard says.

In addition, Monica Chan’s career in project management has enabled her to work at the forefront of conservation efforts with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US). She most recently has been managing a climate change project, working with a diverse team including scientists, policy experts, data analysts, biologists, communicators, and more. The goal is to leverage grants to protect and restore mangroves, forests, and ecosystems, and drive demand in seaweed farming – all to harness nature's power to address the climate crisis.

Courtesy of Monica Chan

“As the project management lead for WWF-US, I am collaborating across the organization to build a project management framework that adapts to our diverse projects. Given that WWF's overarching objectives center on conserving nature and addressing imminent threats to the diversity of life on Earth, the stakes are exceptionally high in how we approach projects,” says Chan.

“Throughout my journey, I've discovered a deep passion for project management's ability to unite people for shared goals, contributing meaningfully to environmental conservation,” she says.

With skills learned from on-the-job experience and resources from PMI, project managers are the central point of connection for social impact campaigns, driving them forward and solving problems along the way. They are integral to bringing these projects to life, and they find support from their peers in PMI’s community.

PMI has a global network of more than 300 chapters and serves as a community for project managers – at every stage of their career. Members can share knowledge, celebrate impact, and learn together through resources, events, and other programs such as PMI’s Hours for Impact program, which encourages PMI members to volunteer their time to projects directly supporting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“By tapping into PMI's extensive network and resources, I've expanded my project management knowledge and skills, gaining insights from seasoned professionals in diverse industries, including environmental management. Exposure to different perspectives has kept me informed about industry trends, best practices, and allowed me to tailor my approach to the unique challenges of the non-profit sector,” Chan says.

“Obtaining my PMP certification has been a game-changer, propelling not only my career growth, but also reshaping my approach to daily projects, both personally and professionally,” Chan says. Research from PMI shows that a career in project management means being part of an industry on the rise, as the global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030 and the median salary for project practitioners in the U.S. is $120K.

PMI’s mission is to help professionals build project management skills through online courses, networking, and other learning opportunities, help them prove their proficiency in project management through certifications, and champion the work that project professionals, like Joshua and Monica, do around the world.

For those interested in pursuing a career in project management to help make a difference, PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification could be the starting point to help get your foot in the door.

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Locklan’s parents spoke with People magazine about how they discovered he was living with this ultra rare condition. Katelyn Samples, Locklan’s mom, explained that when he was born he had a head full of jet black hair, but eventually it fell out and was replaced with peach fuzz. A newborn baby’s hair is often completely different than the hair they end up with by the time they’re toddlers. It’s not uncommon for their hair to fall out in one spot or another, but it’s also not unheard of for their whole head to end up bald while their second sprigs of hair grow in.

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Southwest praised for 'customer of size' policy that gives larger passengers priority

Southwest believes that no one should be charged for taking up an extra seat.

via Bill Abbott/Flickr and DiamondPaintingLover/TikTok

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Flying on an airplane can be highly stressful for people of size. Navigating through the tiny aisles and finding comfort in the extra-small bathroom can be challenging. But one of the biggest problems is getting an extra seat if necessary. Every airline has its own policy, and most charge for additional seats.

To make things easier for people of size, plus-size travel influencer Jae’Lynn Chaney has petitioned the FAA to standardize fare policies for plus-sized travelers. The need for some standards across the airline industry makes sense in a country where airplane seats are getting smaller and obesity is on the rise.

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Former car dealership employee reveals the best way to get a cheaper price on your vehicle

Buying a new car can be an overwhelming process. But Roxy Stylez has a few tricks of the trade to help it go in the buyer's favor.

@roxystylezz/TikTok

A former car dealership employee shares some tip to get a fair price

Buying a car is, as we know, can be overwhelming. Especially during that inevitable moment the salesperson goes away for 15 minutes (which feels more like an hour) and comes back with, supposedly, the best deal available.

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She told People it was a “spur-of-the-moment" thing.

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