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The Corset Has Always Been Controversial—Here’s How It Went From Oppressive To Empowering, Real Quick

Often associated with physical oppression and sexual commodification, the corset has acquired different meanings through time. There’s no denying that we all have a sort of love-hate relationship with it. On one hand, it’s sexy and flattering, on the other… you kinda need to breathe. The shapewear piece has been seen on everyone lately, from Lizzo to the Hadid sisters, and with it becoming such a trend, we wanted to unpack the history behind the iconic garment. 

Whether they lace-up or button-down, corsets are the sexy shapewear that we all associate with a sultry, fetishistic look. 

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The corset has gone from an object of discomfort, oppression and commodification, to one of erotic enforcement and empowerment.  “While the corset has historically signified both beauty and oppression, corsetry, as we know it today, has been reclaimed by women who feel empowered and proud of their sexuality,” explains Patricia Maeda, editor of Fashion Snoops.

Originally, the corset was used to enhance the female body. 

The corset was a bodice used in European civilization to enhance the female form by tightening the waist and perking up the chest as well as improving posture. 

Since females were thought to be the ‘weaker’ sex, women were expected to wear corsets to keep their bodies from becoming deformed.

“The primary function of corsets was to hold the breasts in place and to create a smooth foundation for the fashionable silhouette,” says Audrey McKnight, a Paris-based fashion historian. What few know, is that boys wore it until they were about 10 years old to train their bodies, while women wore it throughout their entire lives.

They were a symbol of “civilzed” dress.

“Corsets were used as a site of colonial control, a symbol of ‘civilized’ dress, and acting as a means of subtle physical control over subjugated peoples,” says McKnight. “For the majority of middle-class women, however, corsets were necessary for the fashions of the day, and not worn to an extreme size.”

Corsets also helped differentiate the noble from the worker. 

The corset was an instrument of social domination that helped the noble or the rich, from the worker. “A subsequent dress reform movement spoke out against the evils and health issues spurred by wearing a corset.”

The corset has been used in pop culture to make a point about how certain clothing can become a symbol of the patriarchy. 

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Corsets were thought to safeguard internal health and to promote good posture. But with the beginning of the women’s dress reform which began in the 1850s, a growing number of people including feminists, health advocates, physicians, artists, and educators began to believe that women’s clothing, particularly fashionable dress, was harmful to women’s health.

In the 60s, the anti-bra movement obliterated corsets.

In the 60s, the youthquake and second-wave feminism movements brought the “barely there” underwear and anti-bra movement, which established a youthful, “natural” figure of which Twiggy was the highest representative. 

It wasn’t until the 80s an 90s when designers started incorporating the cinched figure in their designs again.

Designers including Vivienne Westwood, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Thierry Mugler brought back the corset in a new era in which it became a symbol of sexual empowerment as opposed to one of oppression. By showing the corset as outerwear rather than underwear, it was like they were reclaiming and repurposing its significance. The corset became liberating and subversive. And they were being worn by pop stars like Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Christina Aguilera.

Fast forward to 2019 and we’re seeing a resurgence of corsets in fashion. 

With views on sexuality being more open and expanding nowadays, corsets and their connection to the fetish community, are something that fashion has recently been drawn to. 

Corsets are being reimagined to fit the contemporary woman.

Today’s designers have been modifying the bodice silhouette and using it in new ways, including the adding of utility pockets, zippers, harnesses and the use of different fabrics.

Most importantly though, the Kardashians have been credited with the resurgence of corsets. 

“if you make Kim Kardashian disappear, you will make the corset disappear,” explains millet. The number of youtube videos, Instagram posts and articles of people’s experiences with waist trainers like the one famously popularized by the Kardashian family is pretty high.  Kim’s Thierry Mugler dress, which she wore to the Met gala this May was deeply cinched at the waist, and she received a lot of backlash for being ‘irresponsible’ and ‘unrealistic’. Kim has even gone on to launch a whole shapewear line, Skims. 

Today’s shapes however, are less constricting. 

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The pieces that incorporate elements of the corset tend to be much less constraining nowadays. Characteristics like boning, paneling, lacing and hook-and-eye closures are what’s often being used as reminiscent of the much more classic and rigid garment. Elements of the corset offer an empowering feeling to women who wear it, and it. Yes, there is still pressure for women to conform to beauty ideals, but isn’t it encouraging to see women reclaim patriarchal elements, subvert them and make them their own?

TikTok Queen Rosa And Her Creator Adam Ray Okay Get The Magazine Spotlight

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TikTok Queen Rosa And Her Creator Adam Ray Okay Get The Magazine Spotlight

Even if you are living under the rock now called self-quarantine, if you’re online you probably definitely heard about Rosa. Within just a matter of months, the fun-loving jefa with crooked ashes and some shocking cheek contours has won over fans.

The character, created by Instagram and TikTok user AdamRayOkay has shot to fame, even getting invitations from Rihanna to her Fenty Tik Tok house. In a recent interview with Paper Magazine, the newly minted TikTok star spoke about her rise to social stardom and the crazy world we are currently living in.

Speaking about quarantine life, Rosa had a message of fans to remain positive and keep their chin up.

Paper Magazine/ Instagram

“I’m just trying to stay positive [and] I want to make other people feel positive,” 20-year-old Adam Ray Okay told Paper. “So I’m just trying to put as much content on there as possible, on the internet. Just because right now both the internet and the actual real world are in a really dark place. So yeah, I’m just trying to stay positive.

On what inspired them to create Rosa, Okay explained she was easy to come up with because everyone can relate to her.

Paper Magazine / Instagram

“I had downloaded the TikTok app and I was just scrolling, doing my thing. I wasn’t really thinking of making my own content. And then I just got inspired by myself, my childhood growing up and, like you said, everybody knows this Rosa character and I felt that she had been forgotten about… So once I brought her back, everybody was just so familiar with her and that’s why I felt she did really well,” Okay said, going onto explain that just about every Latino knows a girl like Rosa. “She’s everywhere. So, even if you didn’t grow up with somebody like her, you know how she is. She’s predictable in an unpredictable way. She’s just so familiar… she is part of everybody.”

Speaking about going viral, Okay explained that they were shocked when heavy appreciation for Rosa began to come in.

Paper Magazine / Instagram

“I was honestly shocked. Like I said, putting my first video up there, I didn’t expect any of this to happen. So it made me feel good because I’m able to put my community out there like that, in a positive way. And I don’t know, I just… Even today I get the same exact feelings that when I first went viral because I just feel it’s so crazy that I can give Rosa this platform and express who she is and where she came from and stuff that.”

Okay also said that Rosa has given them a chance to fully embrace their interests in beauty and fashion.

“As Adam, I enjoy beauty. Makeup is something that I enjoy doing. So it definitely was a huge welcome and there was so much that I got to experience from the other beauty creators. I definitely enjoyed it, especially because everybody just does their makeup in a different way. So being able to see how everybody else does it differently. It’s so dope to see other creators discuss that.”

All Of The Latina Beauty Brands To Support During The Coronavirus Crisis

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All Of The Latina Beauty Brands To Support During The Coronavirus Crisis

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There’s no denying that we love beauty. Some of us learned early on to take good care of our skin, and to have fun with our makeup. So it’s not surprising that so many beauty brands are Latinx-owned.

From natural skincare brands to bold and edgy makeup lines, there’s a variety of Latinx-owned beauty brands to support. There’s a mix between indie, under-the-radar brands to celeb-approved ones. So whether you love wearing a bold red lip, or would rather focus on skincare, then there’s a little something for everyone.

1. Reina Rebelde

Credit: Instagram / @reinarebelde

Created by Texas native, Regina Merson, Reina Rebelde was made for unapologetic babes. With playful shade names like La Doña and Coqueta, this bold brand speaks to Latinx’s who are not only fearless but fierce AF.

2. Sigma Beauty

Credit: Instagram / @sigmabeauty

Aside from its dazzling makeup products, Sigma Beauty creates the best beauty tools on the market. All of their tools are genius, too. For example, its Dry’n Shape brush cleaner deep cleans, dries, and reshapes your brushes, while the Titanium brush set is literally indestructible; its made so your brushes will NEVER fall apart. But when you learn about Sigma’s founders, Simone Xavier and Rene Xavier Filho, it’s easy to see why their products are made with a purpose. Brazil natives, Rene has a background in civil engineering and business administration, while Simone has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and a Masters in veterinary science. Talk about a power couple.

3. Lunar Beauty

Credit: Instagram / @lunarbeauty

Founded by one of the biggest YouTube and Instagram beauty influencers, Manny Gutierrez (aka Manny MUA), this brand is all about celebrating your most authentic self. The San Diego native made sure to create a line that’s not only fun but one that’s inclusive.

4. Gaby Espino

Credit: Instagram / @gabyespinostore

Venezuelan telenovela star, Gaby Espino, launched a line of super pigmented lipsticks. From bright pinks to sultry purples to deep reds, there’s a little something for everyone. The best part? There’s not one type of lipsticks. There’s a range of mattes, extreme mattes, glosses, creams, velvets, and more.

5. Tata Harper Skincare

Credit: Instagram / @tataharperskincare

Founded by Colombiana, Tata Harper, this 100% natural skincare line has become a cult-fave among celebs and beauty lovers alike. The brand was created after Tata couldn’t find high-quality, natural products in the beauty market. Thanks to her, that void has now been filled. People don’t have to risk their health in order to get great skincare results.

6. Besame Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @besamecosmetics

Cosmetics historian, artist, and designer, Gabriela Hernandez, created Besame Cosmetics after a life-long love for vintage makeup. Aside from its retro packaging and products (the lipsticks are replicas of shades from the past and the cake mascara is a product stars from the Golden Age of cinema used), Besame will make you feel special and glamorous.

7. Melt Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @meltcosmetics

Latina makeup artist Lora Arellano co-founded Melt Cosmetics with her bestie Dana Bomer. Together, they’ve built a beauty empire with their vibrant eyeshadows, bold lipstick shades, pigmented blushes, and dazzling highlighters. Lora’s background in beauty is just as amazing as the products she helps create. She started working the makeup counter at Nordstrom to doing Rihanna’s makeup on tour to creating a successful makeup empire.

8. Joanna Vargas Skincare

Credit: Instagram / @jvskincare

Similar to Tata Harper, Joanna Vargas’ eponymous skincare brand is dedicated to plant-based ingredients that work. Not only is Joanna one of the most sought-after facialists in Hollywood—celebs flock to her before major events—but her luxury products are worth every penny. The New York-based Latina has been in the skincare business for over a decade, so she knows a thing or two about beauty.

9. KL Polish

Credit: Instagram / @klpolish

KL Polish was created by one of YouTube’s most popular beauty gurus, Kathleen Fuentes (aka Kathleen Lights). After having successful beauty collaborations with ColourPop and Morphe, the Cubana branched out to launch her own nail polishes. The shades in each collection are bright, bold, and vibrant just like Kathleen herself.

10. Dominique Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @dominiquecosmetics

Another successful beauty YouTuber, Christen Dominique, launched an eponymous makeup brand called Dominique Cosmetics. From her first coffee-themed palette to her latest lemonade-inspired one, all of her products will make you want to have fun with your looks.

11. Chaos Makeup

Credit: Instagram / @chaosmakeup

The brand’s founder, Megan Martinez, has created one of the most exciting makeup brands on the market. Their color-changing shadows are truly one-of-a-kind. And once beauty lovers discovered the mesmerizing rainbow highlighter, they pretty much broke the internet. While Martinez’s unique brand is quickly becoming a cult-fave among pros, her story is what really makes us admire her. She went from being homeless at the age of 14 to building a beauty empire.

12. Orlando Pita Play

Credit: Instagram / @orlandopita

Cuban hairstylist Orlando Pita has worked with the biggest stars, including Beyoncé, Anne Hathway, Kate Moss, and Bella and Gigi Hadid. So it’s not surprising that after years of working as a celeb hairstylist that he wouldn’t create his own eponymous hair care line. And luckily for us, we can achieve that same celebrity-approved hair with his line of amazing products.

13. Vive Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @vivecosmetics

Vive is a makeup brand created by Latinxs for Latinxs — and its two founders, Joanna Rosario and Leslie Valdivia, stand by that. With vibrant lipstick shades to choose from, like hot pinks, oranges, and reds, these are the colors you’ll want to wear all summer long. Each lipstick has a cheeky name, too, like Pan Dulce, Luchadora, and Cumbia. There’s even a sultry purple liquid lip inspired by Selena Quintanilla.

14. Loquita Bath and Body

Credit: Instagram / @loquitabathandbody

Known for making novelty products like the always sold out mangoneada, elote, and bidi bidi bath bombs, Mira Perez’s beauty brand is unlike any other. Aside from its playful bath bombs, the brand makes the most heavenly face masks, scrubs, and lip balms.

15. Rizos Curls

Credit: Instagram / @rizoscurls

Julissa Prado created Rizos Curls after struggling to find products that worked for her curly hair. She not only perfected her products to work for all curl types, but she set out to make formulas that were made with high-quality ingredients. Now, curly-haired babes can enjoy and celebrate their hair in all its glory.

16. Brujita Skincare

Credit: Instagram / @brujitaskincare

Founded by Leah Guerrero, Brujita Skincare literally brings the magia to your beauty routine. The holistic beauty brand is enriched with mineral earth powders and clays sourced from the mercados of Mexico. Not only will these products heal your skin naturally, but you’ll feel Mother Nature’s enchanting powers.

17. No B.S. Skincare

Credit: Instagram / @livenobs

Like the cheeky name suggests, this skincare brand doesn’t mess around. Its skincare is made with effective plant-based, natural ingredients. Basically, they stripped away all of the bullshit. The products don’t have anything on their “shit list” like sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances, etc. Even better? They even got rid of b.s. marketing. The brand’s Instagram feed and website are filled with daily affirmations that will make you want to live your best life. For example, they have a postcard that reads: “severely allergic to the b.s.” Agreed.

18. Mia Del Mar

Credit: Instagram / @miadelmarbeauty

While Mia Del Mar hasn’t debuted all of its products just yet, this Latinx-owned brand is all about celebrating your roots. And with ingredients that have been passed down through generations, this line will mainly focus on skin care that’s both trendy and traditional.

19. Gabriel Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @gabrielcosmetics

Gabriel Cosmetics, founded by Gabriel De Santino, has been around since 1992. Inspired by his own personal experience with botanical skincare, the cosmetics line creates some of the best natural products.

20. Alamar Cosmetics

Credit: Instagram / @alamarcosmetics

Gabriella Trujillo went from Boxycharm’s in-house makeup artist to launching her own brand, Alamar Cosmetics. The makeup line is a celebration of the Cubana’s heritage, and its first product, the Reina del Caribe Vol. 1 eyeshadow palette, is proof.