One surefire way to make one's waist look smaller is to make one's butt look bigger. You know about bustles in the 19th century and surgical implants used today. In the 1770s and early 1780s, women achieved the big butt look by inserting mounds of cork into pockets just below their corsets, creating a "false rump." Once the fashion took hold, they got bigger, or maybe that was just the exaggerated caricatures from the period that mocked the false rumps. These rumps left some remarkable stories in their wake, such as the time one worked as a life preserver.
On Sunday evening a very ludicrous accident happened at Henley upon Thames. A large party from town went after tea to enjoy the coolness of the evening on the banks of the river. Youth and spirits hurried them into such sallies of vivacity, that in running with too much precipitation, a lady’s foot tripped and she fell into the Thames. The consternation was general; but somehow everyone was surprised to see her swim like a fishing float, half immersed, and half above the water. It seems that the lady had been furnished with an immoderate sized cork rump, which buoyed her up so completely that she looked like Venus rising from the water. She was towed to shore by a gentleman’s cane without the least injury but wet petticoats.
False rumps were also handy for smuggling liquor and for protection against bullets. Read those stories, and see more drawings of false rumps, at All Things Georgian. -via Strange Company