When handed this book, I felt like I was intruding—the hand crafted spine creaked with hours of the author’s labor, and the muted green fabric frayed at the corners. I felt as though I had been handed a diary, and as it turns out, I sort of had been. Waisted Curves: My Transformation Into A Victorian Lady chronicles Sarah Chrisman’s journey from corset loather to Victorian garment educator and advocate in 250 hand-bound pages. We see Chrisman’s disdain for corsets melt away as she laces herself into the garment daily, and witness her transformation of thought and body, all brought about by an article of clothing.
Chrisman begins the narrative on her birthday, when her husband Gabriel gives her a corset as a gift. This spurs an extensive personal change, both physically and mentally. The narrow conception of corsets with which she begins the memoir quickly changes as she learns more about the history and practices of corsetry. Eventually, she dismisses the idea of the corset as oppressive as she records her changes in self-perception and self-esteem.