Society has always been deeply obsessed with the absolute existence of Black women. You may have heard about the rather disturbing tale of Saartjie Baartman. Saartjie Baartman was a South African lad, born to two hardworking folks. Her mother met her untimely demise when Saartjie was only two years of age, and her father passed away when she was an adolescent. During this period, Saartjie’s homeland was being colonized by the Dutch; A Dutch colonist even killed her beloved lover. Saartjie was then forced to sign a contract with money-crazed entrepreneur, Hendrik Cesars and British surgeon, William Dunlop to become a vital piece in an England-based circus. Slave trade was abolished, however slavery itself wasn’t.
Saartjie was held against her will and endured constant manipulation due to the fact that she was illiterate. Whilst partaking in frequent dehumanizing shows, she was also forced into prostitution, which led to her untimely demise around the age of 25. Saartjie’s voluptuous figure fascinated many and many reduced her to her unique shape. Enslaved Black women, like Saartjie, birthed the fashion of the Victorian era. The phrase itself was coined after Queen Victoria of England, however the inspiration for the suffocating corsets and voluptuously-styled gowns came directly from the figures of enslaved Black women. The underlining issue is that the inspirers of the Victorian fashion were shamed for their innately unique figures and remain uncredited for birthing the era.
You can watch the tale of Saartjie Baartman below!