I figure it started in the caves. Despite the hassle of preparing mastadon dinner without fire, Cave Wife has developed a little junk in the trunk, so to speak. Cave Husband stops packing for his hunting trip long enough to point to her buns and snarl. He holds up a much bigger and stiffer animal skin and demands she put it on. Their pet saber-tooth, Sabey, snarls at him to get away from the wife. Cave guy smacks the tiger one and stomps out. A neighbor has heard the commotion and shows Wife how to fasten the tight skin with strips of sharpened bone. The word was out--no pudge, no jiggle.
For centuries, women complied. Not content with whalebone corsets, women even egged each other on to bite the bullet, or the stick, and have lower ribs removed to give them the perfect wasp waist. At least they didn't have to go to boring corporate parties until they healed. Botched rib-ectomies and changing styles led us back to the corset. It even filtered down to the middle classes. What a bear trying to get something out of the oven or the wringer wearing those whalebones.
WWII put many women in overalls and pipe wrenches. That pretty much guaranteed the decline of the corset. Luckily the hard work and the swing dancing kept us thin.
Then Lucille Ball arrives via TV, vacuuming in heels and a turbo waist cincher. We laughed. And we bought the Playtex girdle. NO bones, no laces, no air. A women with a bad back couldn't even pull one on. My boyfriend said in public that I should always wear a girdle. He was replaceable.
Spoiled, we demanded even more comfort, like the new control top pantyhose! We swore by them for years.
Now TV strikes again. We don't look like Sex and the City! All that rotten time in the gym didn't make us look like Top Models! Barefoot sandals, so no control tops. Jeans with almost no rise. We don't dare sit down. Muffin tops are scaring small children.
Again the manufacturers come to the rescue--with Spanx. No jiggle from chin to ankles. Back problems? A friendly orthpedic nurse helps you pull it on. No bones, no laces, no air. Free at last.