A Break Thru the Stones

Starting a new blog is more difficult that I expected. I was so excited in the beginning, mapping out posts, making lots of notes, publishing actual posts. Then I got busy and it became easier to NOT post than it did to get the next one ready. I started looking for inspiration and found ProBlogger. I began listening to Darren’s podcast and all of his excellent advice; I found it inspiring. Evidently not motivating enough to actually get me to do anything, but I kept listening. After a while, Darren’s voice in my head prompted me to begin, again. So, here I am. After a long break, I am ready to continue. And I want to start by sharing my experience at the Thru the Stones Outlander fan convention I attended in December.

The convention is held every two years and is organized, incredibly, by an Outlander fan, Debbie Ford, and her family. It’s fantastic! My mother-in-law is also an Outlander fan(atic), and she recently moved near us, so now I had someone to go with me! Tickets were purchased, hotel rooms reserved, and off we go!

Since Outlander Costume Designer and fantastic person extraordinaire, Terry Dresbach, was going to be one of the guest speakers, of course we had to make costumes for the Saturday evening festivities. It was after constructing my shift, stomacher, over skirt, bum roll, and jacket (didn’t get to the corset) that I began wondering about the nonverbal communication of clothes in the 18th century. What on earth were they thinking?


I’ve come to the conclusion that it wasn’t just Sir Mix-a-lot that liked big butts. The desirability of a large-hipped woman seems to go back many centuries. I had hoped to ask Terry what she knew about the history of bum rolls, hip pads, and wide hips, but didn’t get the chance. Desmond Morris, in his 90s series, The Human Animal, discussed some of this in episode 2, where women from around the world dress to convey that they have wide hips designed for ease of childbearing. The women of Cameroon would pad their hips for a night on the town, not unlike the bum pads of the 18th century, to send a signal to potential mates of their child-bearing potential.

I think back to Outlander Episode 2, Castle Leoch, when Claire is getting properly dressed by Mrs. Fitz. The show notes say it took over 20 minutes each take to get her dressed. The time and assistance needed for those who lived in the castle to get dressed is more of a message of economic place than clothing, and possibly a topic for another post. The bum pad and how it made Claire move was different than her modern day movement. She had then become part of the 18th century, through tradition, clothing, and nonverbal messages.

In today’s modern world, I can’t say I felt sexy in my 18th century bum pad, nor did I think I was sending any fertility signals; It just made it difficult to get through modern doorways.


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