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This post was edited by gattosonia at 2013-11-15 17:06|
For the last four years, 33-year-old Sarah Chrisman has not only worn a corset on a daily basis, she has also unabashedly embraced the 19th century, deciding to live a wholly Victorian-era lifestyle.
Now, Mrs Chrisman makes all of her own clothes to fit a Victorian-era shape, rides a 100-year-old penny farthing bicycle and cooks with the guide of 19th century women's magazines.
A typical day includes doing her laundry by hand with the 'proper temperature of water used back then - room temperature;' reading 19th century literature, etiquette guides and magazines, like a 1889 edition of Cosmopolitan. And when it comes to cleaning, Mrs Chrisman uses 'salt to clean the carpets.'
Her husband, Gabriel, a recent Masters of Library and Information Science graduate from the University of Washington who works at a local bicycle shop and library, is supportive of his wife's Victorian lifestyle.
'We both love history,' Mrs Chrisman explained. 'He participates and we have a lot of fun together. We're always experimenting with new ways to enrich our lives.'
Friends are also supportive. 'They are intrigued,' explained Mrs Chrisman. 'The wonderful thing is, our friends are friends -- our interests are still the same. We still enjoy discussing academic matters and things like hiking.'
And hiking, she says, is easier in her Victorian garb than one might think.
'I manage hiking quite well. I modeled my outfit off a photo of Fay Fuller, the first woman known to reach the summit of Mount Rainier in 1890. She was dressed in an "immodest" climbing outfit of her own devising.'
After one year of wearing a corset every day, Mrs Chrisman said her waist went from 32 inches to 22 inches, she experienced fewer migraines and her posture improved. 'And honestly, the corset lets me know when I'm full! I don't have to worry about eating too much,' she laughed.
But her desire to delve further into the Victorian lifestyle, and wear a corset every day, seems to have the public divided.
'People have mixed reactions,' she admitted. 'Some are enthusiastic and positive. The other day an old man ran out of a restaurant to tell me I made his day, he said: "You look beautiful."
'But there are perfect strangers who find what I wear such a point of contention. Some women scream oppression -- that I choose to wear a corset. But I focus on the positives. I don't find it restricting at all, in fact I'd venture to say that it's liberating to live how I want to!'
Mrs Chrisman adds that every day, she and her husband find 'wonderful insights' into the Victorian way of life.
'19th century furniture has so many mirrors!' she said. 'They are used to reflect the light as much as possible -- to create a more open space by expanding the natural daylight.'
Mrs Chrisman, who owns a home telephone and uses lights and electricity, said that 'as far as technology goes, people don't realize how early a lot of technology came into being'.
'You could say the Victorian internet was born in the 19th century,' she said, referencing a book by Tom Standage, who examined the revolutionary telegraph, which he labeled as 'the world's first Internet'.
'And in the 1870s, two inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell independently designed the telephone,' she added. 'And the world's first public electricity supply was provided in late 1881, when the streets of Godalming in the UK were lit with electric light.'
While the couple minimize using modern elements 'when we can,' she conceded that they 'still live in the world'.
'We can't travel back in time, though we try,' she said.
For the last four years, 33-year-old Sarah Chrisman has not only worn a corset on a daily basis, she has also unabashedly embraced the 19th century, living a wholly Victorian era lifestyle.