Question: I have a 16-year-old daughter. Around Easter she will leave secondary school. After that I'm going to send her to a young ladies' boarding school in Lausanne. They accept young ladies of noble birth only. Good manners are essential. The school's information brochure contains a list of required clothes. Among them are two corsets (a simple one for everyday wear and a satin corset for festive events). When my daughter read that list, she declared that she wouldn't attend that particular boarding-school, since she would never wear a corset. The reason is that she has been influenced by one of her friends' mother who is actively engaged in the reform movement. So far I didn't get a corset for my daughter because I thought that her start at boarding-school would be the right time for this. Now I'm afraid that she will run into difficulties if she refuses to wear corsets at boarding-school, since they expressly require that. I'm all unhappy about this unexpected development. I cannot take her to any festive event unless she is going to change her mind. Please advise me as to what I should do now!
Answer: Unfortunately you have made a mistake in that you waited too long before buying a corset for your daughter. Every girl of 14 or 15 years of age does expect to get one. Older girls are more critical and they can easily be influenced by others. And what's more, they are often obstinate and try to get their will without reflecting their actions sensibly.
You should take care now in order not to make her even more obstinate. Therefore you must not force her into corsets by means of strict orders. This would probably arouse her resistance. And that, in turn, could have a negative impact on her later life. You should not take too seriously what your daughter said about corsets. Girls of her age change their opinion as quickly as the weather changes. Use subtle methods which draw her attention to corsets and their positive effects, i.e. if there are corseted ladies or girls with elegant dresses, then call her attention to them and say something like: ''What do you think this lady would look like without a corset?'' Furthermore you could sometimes mention that it is not decent for a lady of noble birth to be uncorseted, as such behaviour is generally looked at as bad manners. It is undeniable that every young lady would like to get married one day. So a hint on the fact that men don't like reform dresses could prove very effective.
At the present moment you needn't worry about your daughter's attitude towards corsets. Insist on her going to the Lausanne boarding-school, now that she's enrolled. If you can't get her to try out a corset at home, just put her corsets into her suitcase without telling her about it. At school she soon will notice that all her schoolmates wear corsets, so she'll try them, too. A short letter to the school mistress could help, too, in leading your daughter back onto the right way. For girls of her age it is especially important to wear corsets, otherwise their back could be damaged for the rest of their life. That is why mistresses of good boarding-schools see to it that girls don't neglect their waist.
We are convinced that your daughter will adjust to the rules and regulations of the boarding-school very fast. We then recommend that you don't mention the word 'corset' in her presence.
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