Monday, May 23, 2011

Red Riding Hood Reality Project: The Results

Finally, we have compiled all of the data from The Red Riding Hood Reality Project complete with pictures!

Our stats:
Waist – 26”
Height – 5’2”
Weight – approx. 110 lbs.
Waist – 29”
Height – 5’7
Weight - 130 lbs.

Day One:
Saturday, April 30th at 2:00 P.M.

Before Corset:
Julia – 26” waist
Nicole – 29” waist
After Corset:
Julia – 27½” waist
Nicole - 26½” waist

 Right after donning the corsets, we went to lunch. It was certainly more difficult for us to eat while we were tightly laced up. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our hands on any chicken wings.

*Because the Elizabethan corset (which is meant to create a silhouette not focused on shrinking the waist) actually added to the waist measurement, we decided not to use for the rest of the experiment, choosing instead to focus on the Victorian style under bust corset which does cinch the waist. I took off the Elizabethan corset around 3:30 and remained uncorseted until later that night.

9:00 P.M.
Nicole – 25½” waist (worn since 2 P.M. with a few short breaks)
Julia – 25” waist (worn for the first time that day)

The biggest hands we could find belong to Nicole’s boyfriend, Bryan. He’s 6’3” and his finger span (from tip of middle finger to tip of thumb) is 9½”, making the largest circumference that his hands could encircle 19”. Neither of us had gotten anywhere close to a 19” waist that day, although in Victorian times, it was common.

We didn’t get a picture just of Bryan’s hands, but to give you an idea, here’s a picture of my hands, showing you how we measured.

                  From tip of middle finger, following the bend of the hand to the end of the thumb.

Day Two:
May 1st at 2:00 P.M.

*Since we were no longer using the Elizabethan corset and Nicole had already done her day with the Victorian one, only I laced up on this day.

Before Corset:
26” waist
After Corset:
25½” waist (2:00 P.M.)
24½” waist (6:00 P.M.)
24½” waist (7:30 P.M.)

At 7:30 we stopped the experiment because had had the corset on for 5½ hours and couldn’t tighten it anymore without feeling intensely uncomfortable.

Here are all the hand measurements we collected:
Julia – 7” each, 14” altogether
Nicole – 8" each, 16" altogether
Bryan - 9.5" each, 19" altogether
Max (my brother) – 7½” each, 15” altogether

Try measuring your hands... could you imagine getting them around someone's waist?

My Thoughts On the Experiment:
Click here to see Nicole's thoughts...

At the end of this project, I felt pretty satisfied with our results. My hypothesis (which was that neither me or Nicole would be able to cinch ourselves down enough to get someone to put their hands around our waists) was correct. I went into the experiment knowing that such a feat was possible, but the data confirmed my prior knowledge that in order to achieve it, one would have to spend a significant amount of time corset training, or tightlacing.

If Red Riding Hood had been definitively set in an era where the appropriate type of corset was typically worn OR the author had specified that for whatever reason, Valerie had been tightlacing, then the passage would make sense. However, the book is not set in a specific time period, Valerie is not described as wearing any kind of corset, and the clues that we can gain from the film do not support the authors words. I can safely say that this is JUST BAD WRITING.

From the perspective of someone who loves costume AND history, I can say that Sarah Blakely-Cartwright, while trying to prove a point with questionable morality clearly did not do her research or use her common sense.

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