From the Gibson Girl to the Instagram model, “Beauty or Torture” showcases the ways women have conformed to various beauty demands across multiple decades and reveals how those demands affected every day women's physical health as well as their perceptions of self-worth.
The Women’s Museum will be showcasing items from their own collection including dangerously high heels, corsets, curling irons, and vintage makeup.
“The WMC Clothing Collection houses many fascinating pieces, including various corsets from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, to wire crinolines, to earlier versions of the modern bra,” said Julia Friedman, Women’s Museum collections manager. “Many of these pieces have never been displayed in our gallery, and we are thrilled for the public to view these significant pieces of women's fashion history for the first time.”
“Beauty or Torture” is curated by fashion and costume historian, Marley Healey. Healey works as a historical textile consultant and reviews fashion-based exhibitions along the West Coast and is working on a long-term curatorial research project around dress-based collections in Southern California.
As for the significance of this exhibit, Healey explains, “Ideas about what constitutes physical beauty have fluctuated radically for centuries, and in 2017 the conversation is as relevant as ever. This exhibit will illuminate how women have navigated shifting beauty standards with the help (and occasional horror) of some extreme tools and styles.”
“Beauty or Torture” runs through Jan. 28, at the Women’s Museum of California in Liberty Station, 2730 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 16. Admission is $3 to $5.
For more information, visit womensmuseumca.org.