Warning: This post features antique photos containing nudity.
The Victorians gave us many things: the white wedding dress, air conditioning, the concept of childhood, the automobile, more women’s rights and the telephone, just to name a few. They also gave us pornography.
Yes, pornography. Soon after film photography was invented the erotic industry was born.
The stereotype is that Victorians were very straight-laced and didn’t think about sex simply because they didn’t talk about it publicly. Truth was their world and all their strict social rules revolved around the idea of keeping sexual impulses under control. Men were thought to have insatiable appetites that needed to be kept at bay while no upstanding woman was supposed to even dream of sex. The act’s only function in her life was to make her a mother.
Love letters from the period tell us that women did have desires of their own. They simply hid them with euphemisms and symbolism.
So animal-like were men, it was thought, that the mere sight of a woman’s ankle would send them into fits of ecstasy. Piano legs were covered for the same reason women’s legs were, so as not to cause any unwanted passion.
Don’t Conform to Beauty Standards
Victorian erotic photos seem to come in two categories: Those that contain sexual acts and those that contain subjects posing nude.
Those containing sexual acts – with men, women, alone or together and in any combination – are not much different than the types of erotic photos found today.
The nudes, on the other hand, contain nothing that those in the 21st century would find lewd. They appear instead more like art photos.
No matter the type of photos, the people appearing in them would not be considered attractive today. This is because:
- The women were small breasted, and many of the men were not well endowed.
- The women had pubic hair.
- Many of the women were not wearing makeup.
- The men did not have “six pack abs”.
- Some of the people had very athletic legs, probably from walking so much.
- Others had a bulge of fat in the thighs and stomach.
On the other hand, this is a good thing. These men and women lived in a time before plastic surgery, personal trainers and Hollywood’s unnatural standards for beauty. Perhaps they were comfortable in their own bodies and had no shame posing in the body nature had given them. If this be the case, then the Victorians were more sexually liberated than we are because they didn’t have body insecurities.
Victorian Naughty Nudes
The following are four Victorian nudes and one burlesque dancer from the same period.
What do you think led women like the ones in the photos above to pose nude? Where they desperate for money, or seeking sexual liberation? Leave a comment below.
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