Detail of the center panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych, by Hieronymous Bosch, c. 1500. © Prado, Madrid / Bridgeman Images.


Volume IX, Number 4 | fall 2016


When early nineteenth-century corset fashion shifted from the buxom “Venus ideal” to the slimmer “Diana ideal,” it became popular for women to wear the garment but claim they weren’t. “Actresses would say, ‘I don’t need to wear a corset,’” historian Valerie Steele noted in 2012, “but you look at their photograph and you go, ‘Babe, you are so wearing a corset.’”

What are men anyway but balloons on legs, a lot of blown-up bladders?

—Petronius, c. 64