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After a while, we grow accustomed to the pain, and even forget that it is there. My boyfriend and I went for a walk in Central Park one Sunday morning with two friends of ours, Alex and Myra. The first thing I noticed were Myra’s three-inch-high straw platforms. Every half hour or so, one of us would ask her, Are you sure your feet are okay? and, being a true fashion trooper, she’d reply, Oh, yeah, I walk in these things all the time. After two full hours of walking, my feet were aching a bit, and I was wearing sneakers.

Maybe Myra had the toughest soles in town; perhaps she had conditioned herself to endure discomfort in her feet in the same way that kung fu masters train themselves to tolerate pain in their hands. Maybe her feet were naturally impervious to pain. More likely, they did hurt and she just didn’t say anything. But who hasn’t done something similar? When I go out with friends during the winter months, I typically wear sleeveless dresses, halters, and tanksessentially the same things I would wear if it were eighty-five degrees out (I do cave in and wear closed-toe shoes, however). Meanwhile, other people are bundled up in wool turtlenecks and sweater coats. And whenever anyone asks Aren’t you going to be cold? like Myra, I shake off their concern.

In Hollywood, underdressing in chilly weather is par for the course. Just check out the red carpet at the Golden Globes in January or at any movie premiere scheduled in winterthe actresses still schmooze the media line, teeth chattering because they insisted on wearing sleeveless, backless numbers with slits that require Brazilian waxes. Dressing sexy at the risk of catching a cold seems worth it at times like these. But trade-offs like this aren’t restricted to special events. The Fashion Victim goes through a similar process of weighing pros and cons whenever she gets dressed. In the nineteenth century, physical pain equaled visual pleasure. The circumference of a skirt, the elevation of a wig, the tightness of a corset, the height of a heelthe more extreme they were, the more they signaled to others that their wearer was part of the fashionable upper class. Then, in the latter part of the century, growing numbers of women became more physically active in everyday life and began playing sports as well, a difficult undertaking thanks to the fashions of the time. The reformers of the Rational Dress Movement fought for more sensible styles that wouldn’t increase a woman’s danger of falling while skating or of taking an embarrassing tumble from her bicycle. In 1868, Rational Dress supporter Ellen Gould White wrote, A bad circulation leaves the blood to become impure, and induces congestion of the brain and lungs, and causes diseases of the head, the heart, the liver, and the lungs. The fashionable style of woman’s dress is one of the greatest causes of all these terrible diseases. Fashion has historically been blamed for an array of health problems. One of the most vilified articles of clothing is the corset. In the film Moulin Rouge, each of Nicole Kidman’s intricate, wasp-waisted outfits took thirty minutesand help from assistants on the setto lace up. Before filming Kidman broke a rib during dance practice, then broke it again getting fitted for a particularly tight corset. I stood there and I remember just, sort of, the blood draining from my face [and] thinking, gosh this does not feel right, she recounted. During one interview, the poor corseted actress grabbed her side and squeaked out a constricted giggle to the reporter, saying, I can’t laugh! And this was just for a movie. How could anyone have tolerated the pain of such bone-crushing garments on a daily basis?Fashion Fair Lipstick-Perfect Pout 1 | Boscov’s Ltf

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