Last week, I wrote about a small room on the second floor of our Victorian house. At the moment, we are in the middle of renovating this space into a more functional office for both my husband and I. (Progress so far…. we have purged, purged, purged and put up the wallpaper. We’re waiting for some cooler, less humid weather to start the painting.) Anyways, I’ve always wondered how this small room was originally used. I thought maybe it was a child’s bedroom or nursery. Well, yesterday Natalie from the wonderful blog Altruism in the Morning informed me that this tiny space was originally used as a fainting room.
During the Victorian era, women’s fashion relied heavily on the corset which constricted a woman’s internal organs and compressed her rib cage and lungs. This resulted in women fainting on a regular basis. A small room furnished with a daybed or chaise was where these women would go to rest during the day whenever they were feeling short of breath or light headed.
When I found this out I was actually a little disturbed. I hate to think that women suffered so much in the name of fashion. I mean, I have done my fair share of suffering for fashion (high heels come to mind) but I’ve never had to devote an entire room in our house to dealing with that suffering. It boggles my mind to think that actual square footage of our house was turned over to alleviate the effects of constricting fashion.
Having said that, I’m now thinking that I should take back this room as my very own! I could outfit it with a very nice daybed, a stack of books, some art....maybe a few plants and whenever I need a few minutes to compose myself or take a breath I could escape up to my very own fainting room. I’d have to rename it though…hmm what could I call it?