Consumption Chic


The princess awoke amidst heraldry and cushions. Her red lips and flush cheeks were perfection straight out of bed. She put no hensbane in her eyes, as they were already bright.

She coughed into a handkerchief as she stood and found blood left behind. Such is the price of beauty!

(50 Words)


As part of my series where I showcase different prompts across WordPress, this was written for 50 Word Thursday.  In addition to the photo, Kristian and Teresa gave this quote:

“Her lips were red and perfectly shaped, her cheeks blushed prettily when she spoke.”
– Neil Gaiman, Stardust.

If you’re looking for a flexible prompt, look no further than 50 word Thursday!  You can do anything as long as you write in increments of 50 words.

My response was inspired by the fashion trend in the Victorian era to look like you had consumption (or tuberculosis).  People would do things like dilate their pupils to look pretty, or give themselves that healthy flush that was indicative of certain stages of the infection.  Consumption chic was so popular, in fact, that it actually delayed diagnosis of tuberculosis in many women who followed the trend.  CRAZY.

33 thoughts on “Consumption Chic

  1. crimsonprose says:

    Like it. And throughout history, both women and men have harmed themselves in all kinds of way in vain attempts to *improve* upon what nature gave them. Though undoubtedly the Victorian period is the best documented.

  2. Jules says:

    Her-story in history is an odd kettle of fish 😉
    The photo reminded me of a comic I saw the other day… about first drafts that failed of writing a fairy tale.
    It was a princess with a watermelon under her mattress (could have been under her legs) –
    I’ve been reading some murder mysteries set in the Victorian era with an American in England.
    Introducing both photography and fingerprinting as valuable tools to solve crime 🙂

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      Photography and fingerprinting to solve crime is an interesting thing! I have a book I’m reviewing on the blog later this year, “The Alienist,” that seems to have that in it. Excited!

      • Jules says:

        The Victorian Mysteries I’ve been reading are little quick ones by Robin Paige – actually a husband and wife team. I found both at Little Free Libraries. So that’s were I’ll return them 🙂

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