Coming Out.

3 min


“Oof, ugh, Maria, must you pull those laces so hard?”, I asked my handmaid, crossly.

“S-sorry, M’Lady, but your Father, Lord Merry, bade me take care of your attire this morning..It being your Coming Out Ceremony. Your mother, bless her soul, would be so proud of you, today!”

“My mother must have passed away due to this blooming, constricting corset that she had to wear inorder to look prim and proper for Society. The same Society that bid her wear it even while she carried me in her womb? What of the men, with their protruding bellies and double chins? Why don’t they fashion corsets for those men and their body parts?”

“Hush now,Katherine M’Lady, let us make haste before our guests and your suitors arrive”, said Maria.

“I care not for the suitors in their fussy suits and overcoats. I am not a damsel -in- distress that needs rescuing. I shall be the sole heiress to my father’s estate and as such, these ‘suitors’ would woo me for my wealth. I long to be free, to live my life as I please, without restrictions and ugh, without these cursed constrictions of corsets and humongous headgear,” I protest, loudly.

“Hark, I hear the coaches arriving in the courtyard, M’Lady. Your father shall never let me hear the end of it if we are tardy”, Maria begged of me.

I stood up, regarded myself in the ornate mirror. I looked a picture of my mother, long auburn curls tied up in that hopeless headgear, my stout body forced into a dress almost too small for me.I was not a lithe, lissome eighteen-year- old and this was my bane, according to Society. I had to bear a price for being shaped like my beautiful mother. My waist and bust had been poked, prodded, nay, forced into a dress that had been chosen for me. The brass buttons of the dress barely managed to hold my bosom in place, whilst the wretched laces of the corset bit into my petticoat. 

I heard my father, Lord Malcolm Merry, beckon me downstairs. 

I took in a deep breath and made my way to the top of the staircase that led to our large ballroom.

“Presenting our debutante for tonight, the worthy daughter of Lord Malcom Merry, Miss Katherine Merry”, an usher announced.

I began my descent, all the while noticing the waiting men, nay, vultures, waiting to deovour me. I noticed Lord Flauntley, recently widowed, but who had a penchant for visiting women of questionable virtue, even whilst his dear wife was ailing and alive. He licked his lips while casting his puffy eyes on me. I must have turned a shade of green, in keeping with my dress which was emerald green and flouncy.

Next I saw Lord Horace, or should I say Lord Horseface, for he had the makings of a horse, albeit horses are more beauteous. Lord Horseface was prancing around like a stallion on heat.

Suddenly, there was a loud ‘rrrrrrrrrrrippppp’, and I looked down at my dress. It had ripped open due to the strain of the cloth being forced to close around my bosom. I was now standing there with my wretched corset exposed, my ripe breasts peeking out from the top. I could see the vultures turn pink, then shades of red while the ladies held up their fancy, frilly fans in front of their visages. Not one of them dared venture near me.

I was unperturbed. This was my chance to air my heart out. I stood there proudly and said, “This was bound to happen for I am against restrictions of any kind. Even my frock agrees with me and has protested. Society wanted me to ‘Come Out’ so that I maybe picked up and married to one of these lecherous gentlemen, who have little regard for me. Well, well, I ‘Came Out’ did I not? Now possibly my marriage prospects might have dimmed, for everyone has seen what I look like within.  An unwilling young maiden am I who considers marriage to Lord Horse..beg your pardon, Lord Horace or anyone else in this ballroom tantamount to being sent to the gallows!”

Pin drop silence ensued. Not even my father approached me, then I saw my handmaid Maria scurry toward me with a large furcoat. I was happy I had spoken my mind. While being escorted away by Maria, she whispered, “M’Lady, I have raised you since your mother’s demise during childbirth, and I couldn’t be more proud of you than I presently am!”

I saw the women whispering amongst themselves while the horrible men pretended to avert their eyes.

********

The large ballroom was filled with Lords and Ladies of varying ranks and standings. They seemed edgy, restless, as if waiting for something. Finally, the beautiful debutante, Katherine Merry, appeared at the top of the stairs and began her descent after the usher announced her name. Once or twice, she seemed to slow down, falter, when she cast her eyes on Lord Flauntley and then on Lord Horace. Suddenly there was a loud ‘rrrrrip’ and her bodice came apart, but young Katherine held her own and stood there, unashamed. She spoke about freedom from restrictions and the fact that she had ‘Come Out’ most definitely. She wondered out aloud as to whether her marriage prospects had dimmed, now that everyone had seen her body. No one came to her rescue save for a maid who ran towards her with a furcoat. 

***********

Pic credit: Unsplash: Katie Treadway

Note: Victorian Society was very prim, proper and dated where women were supposed to be best seen and not heard. The Coming Out Ceremony was widely known as the day a virgin, eligible young girl would be paraded to Society inorder for her to snatch a man.

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