Michelle Honig / Bustle
“There is no natural body, but only a cultural body,” wrote Denia Bruna, the curator of the Bard Graduate Center’s exhibition, "Fashioning the Body,” in an essay for the exhibition catalogue. “The body is a reflection of the society that presided over its creation.” In other words, undergarments like the corset were used to create and mold the body, shaping and disguising the figure to form a “cultural body,” designed to fit the aesthetics of any given time. However, during the Age of Enlightenment, intellectuals began questioning the corset and its artifice, arguing that the corset was, at best, the physical embodiment of censorship, and, at worst, a way of deforming and destroying the natural body. Anatomists and doctors began advising against the wearing of stays.