HomeEntertainmentFollowing complaints, corsets will no longer be required for 'Bridgerton'

    Following complaints, corsets will no longer be required for ‘Bridgerton’

    Lord Jack Featherington (Rupert Young), Prudence Featherington (Bessie Carter), Philippa Featherington (Harriet Cains), Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Lady Portia Featherington (Polly Walker) in

    It is now out of the question for the heroes of Bridgerton to be forced to wear a clothing item that shapes their bodies but was a fad they paradoxically promoted. The producers behind the successful Netflix series – which offers a fanciful dive into the daily lives of young women in British high society during the Regency era – announced that wearing a corset will no longer be mandatory for its actresses. They will therefore not have to wear them in season three of the Shonda Rhimes-produced period drama, which should be released by the end of the year.

    Actress Simone Ashley, who played the lead in the second season, welcomed the change in early February in an interview with the British newspaper Tea Times, saying, “Luckily, we’re allowed to wear bras now instead and that has changed everything for me. I can do a 12-hour day and feel comfortable.” And for good reason: The decision is a direct consequence of the criticism voiced in recent months by actresses in the series about the discomfort and risks caused by wearing the historical undergarment, whose purpose is to refine a woman’s bust by tightening her waist.

    “Essentially, there were health and safety concerns about keeping women in a pinching corset for weeks at a time,” the production company acknowledged when explaining its decision in comments reported by the tabloid The Sun. In a March 2022 interview with the magazine GlamourAshley was indeed the first Bridgerton actress to share her grievances addressed against the 16th-century article of clothing that was turned into a costume:

    “I realized when you wear the corset, you just don’t eat. It changes your body. I had a smaller waist very momentarily. Then the minute you stop wearing it, you’re just back to how your body is. I had a lot of pain with the corset, too, I think I tore my shoulder at one point!”

    A year later, in The Timesthe 27-year-old actress added, “Corsets push everything down to the bottom of your stomach. That means when you take them off, you’ve got a little bump. I hated wearing those corsets filming Bridgerton. They’re so beautiful, but I hate them – never again!”

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    Displaced organs and difficulty breathing

    Before Bridgerton‘s heroines, several actresses had already shared their experience of wearing this garment that constrains their bodies and their acting, even though they sometimes also emphasized its benefits – not only for posture but also for the historical accuracy of certain stories.

    In the midst of promoting The Favorite in 2019, American actress Emma Stone, who plays the supporting role in the film, sarcastically shared the hell the accessory put her through we have BBC talk show:

    “Has anyone ever tried a corset on? You really can’t sit down (…) For the first month, I couldn’t breathe (…) And I would smell menthol and it sort of made me think I was in a wide-open space (…) But after month, all my organs shifted (…) It was only temporary, but it was gross (…) And if you don’t have to, don ‘t do it.”

    Emma Stone in the film

    French actress Cécile de France agreed to wear a corset to play the lead role in the 2018 feature film Mademoiselle de Joncquière. She told the daily newspaper 20 minutes, in a more subdued way, how much the corset “symbolizes” an entire era where women were confined to “very reductive roles,” due to the fact that “you can’t breathe when you’re wearing one.” As for American-German actress Kirsten Dunst, who played a rocking Marie Antoinette in the 2006 film of the same name, she simply explained to the Associated Press 10 years later that “I hate corsets (…) It’s not pleasant, especially after lunch.”

    For all these reasons – and also to make the Disney heroine more modern by giving her back her freedom of movement – ​​British actress and feminist figure Emma Watson herself adamantly refused to wear one in the live-action version of Beauty and the Beastreleased on the big screen in 2017.

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    ‘Not a trivial decision’

    “In today’s increasingly woke world, it’s also not great optics to be encouraging women to have thinner waists,” added the Bridgerton production source quoted off the record to Tea Sun to justify the freedom granted to the show’s actresses. The production company, which claims to be progressive, seems to be making this move to fit in with the times.



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    Bérénice Hamidi, a professor of theater studies at the Université de Lyon-II and a specialist in cultural representations, believes that “this decision by the Bridgerton production company is in no way trivial. It reflects a twofold concern, both about the working conditions of actresses and about the links between the way we create and the performances we put on. These questions have spanned the cultural world since the feminist awakening of #MeToo: Must we suffer to be beautiful and to create, or can we create and be desirable without suffering?”

    Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne Bridgerton in the costume department of the series

    According to Hamidi, “questioning clothing, in this case, the corset, is proof that feminism is an aesthetic act as much as a political one, transforming and extending our representations and our imagination.” From this point of view, she considers Bridgerton “fascinating because it carries contradictory messages.” On the one hand, there’s “its inherent inclusive aspect and its denunciation of the conventions of the time weighing on the lives and bodies of women on the part of the characters.” And on the other, there’s “the persistent eroticizing of ultra-stereotypical female bodies embodied by the corset, which inflates the chest and narrows the waist, [and whose wearing was] until now mandatory for the actresses.”

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    Skeptics of the series’ corset announcement, often connoisseurs of the history of clothing, note that nothing in the time period in which Bridgerton is supposed to take place – the early 19th century – required the actresses to wear the more constraining and therefore potentially painful “long” corsets occasionally seen on screen. These do not correspond in any way to the historical period. However, Bridgerton has always openly turned its back on strict realism, allowing itself more freedom by mixing codes and styles.

    Myriam Fouillet, a doctoral student in film studies who specializes in the history of costume in film, agreed: “From the very first episode, it’s obvious that we’re watching a non-realistic historical series. The fantasy aesthetic that is deployed conveys a message to a modern audience. The costume designer uses codes familiar to younger generations to feed the narrative and highlight the characters’ personalities. For example, the Featherington family’s dresses reveal the excessive nature of the matriarch, Lady Portia, through their garish colors, overflowing patterns and lavish embellishments, which in no way respect the conventions of the Regency era.” All the more reason for the corset – despite being reinvented as a fashion trend in recent years – to be abandoned without regret by the production company and the heroines of the series.

    Translation of an original article published in English on; the publisher may only be liable for the French version.

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