Emma Watson’s Refusal to Wear a Corset in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Was Justified When You Consider the ‘Cinderella’ Photoshop Rumors

Emma Watson has a reputation for being both clever and beautiful. While she doesn’t have a reputation for being difficult to work with, it’s no secret she’s actively involved in her projects. A perfect example: when Watson refused to wear a corset while filming Beauty and the Beast. Fans debated the decision. Looking at the production of another Disney remake, Cinderella, provided some insight.

Emma Watson refused to be corseted

Emma Watson signs autographs for fans at the 2017 premiere of Beauty and the Beast
Actress Emma Watson signs autographs in 2017 | PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

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From the beginning, Emma Watson took an active interest in the character of Belle. Beginning the project, the actor wanted her version of the commoner-turned-princess would be both smart and active. Waston knew movement was crucial for adventurous Belle. She was determined that her costumes would be both beautiful and light.

The iconic yellow dress she wears while dancing with the beast perfectly reflects Watson’s vision. Beauty and the Beast‘s costume designer Jacqueline Durrantold Entertainment Weekly:

For Emma, it was important that the dress was light and that it had a lot of movement. In Emma’s reinterpretation, Belle is an active princess. She did not want a dress that was corseted or that would impede her in any way.

Beauty and the Beast Costume Designer Jacqueline Durran

Corsets didn’t fit into Watson’s vision of the feisty heroine. With one primary function, the restrictive garments are designed to make the wearer’s waist as tiny as possible, creating a perfect hourglass figure. They’re stiff, and they make it difficult for the wearer to breathe. Donning a corset doesn’t encourage a person to be active. 

The amount of backlash Lily James faced following the release of Cinderella might have also played a role in Watson’s decision to remain uncorseted.

Accusations of photoshopping

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One of the first things people noticed about Lily James’ Cinderella was the character’s super tiny waist. Many didn’t think a waist that small was possible. They accused Disney of using Photoshop. The rumors grew so intense that James spoke out. She explained during a Nightline interview:

“I have naturally a quite small waist. And on top of that, I have a corset that was pulled me into the inch of my life. And then the skirt is so big that the perspective and the proportions make it look smaller than it is.” 

Lily James on her tiny waist in Cinderella

The use of a corset managed to give James a 17-inch waist. When you compare James’ dance scene as Cinderella to Emma Watson’s as Belle, you can’t help noticing how stiff James’ movements are. 

The health hazards of corsets

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It wasn’t all that long ago that nearly all women wore corsets. They did for fashion reasons. While corsets helped improve women’s posture, they also created several health problems.

The biggest concern with corsets is reduced lung capacity. When you’re tightly laced into a corset, it’s not possible to draw a deep breath. There are many stories about women fainting from lack of oxygen while they were corseted. In Le Corset, reports the Public Domain Review, Ludovic O’Followell printed x-ray images that provided a visual of exactly what happened to women’s ribs when they pulled the corset tight.

Another health hazard connected to corsets is bad backs and weakened chest muscles. It’s believed that the muscles simply got used to being supported, leaving the woman feeling weak and badly balanced when she finally removed the corset. It’s also rumored that the corset led to digestive issues and constipation, though there’s no medical data to back this up.

Do you think Emma Watson made the right choice when she refused to put on a corset?