'Bridgerton' star Simone Ashley reveals how wearing a corset left her in pain

Simone Ashley poses in the winners room at the EE British Academy Film Awards 2022 at Royal Albert Hall on March 13, 2022 in London, England.  (Getty Images)
Wearing a corset for Bridgerton was 'interesting,' says Simone Ashley. (Getty Images)

Simone Ashley has openly discussed how wearing a corset for her lead role in upcoming Bridgerton season two took a toll on her body.

While the actor, 26, relished playing Kate Sharma, love interest of Lord Anthony, played by Jonathan Bailey, the fashion of the Regency-era didn't exactly provide an easy ride.

Ashley – previously known for her role as Olivia Hanan in Sex Education – told UK Glamour how wearing a corset, something she has never had to do before, caused her pain and affected her diet.

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"On my first day, I was like, 'OK, first day as a leading lady, got to eat lots of food, be really energised,'" she said. "So, I had this massive portion of salmon and that's when I needed to be sick, because I was wearing the corset."

Discovering the side effects of the tightly fitting garment, intended to train a torso into a particular shape, she said, "I realised when you wear the corset, you just don't eat. It changes your body. I had a smaller waist very momentarily. Then the minute you stop wearing it, you're just back to how your body is."

Ashley added, "I had a lot of pain with the corset, too, I think I tore my shoulder at one point!"

Describing the corset fiasco as an "interesting" experience, she also revealed a wardrobe crew had to help her dress "because when you're in a corset, you can't put your shoes on".

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British actress Simone Ashley and British actor Jonathan Bailey pose in the winner's room during the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, in London, on March 13, 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)
Simone Ashley and Bridgerton co-star Jonathan Bailey at the 2022 Baftas. (AFP via Getty Images)

Star of Bridgerton season one Phoebe Dynevor has previously spoken about her experience of wearing a corset. "I was lucky because I only had a half-corset," she told The Times last year.

"I didn't mind it, but anything that restricts my boobs I would never do in real life. I like my boobs being free."

However, echoing the ordeal of wearing one, she said she would sometimes rehearse in it with a tracksuit over the top "because the corset took so long to put on".

Interestingly, Dynevor also explained how wearing a corset helped her get into character. "Immediately, because of the way the corset is fitted, your posture is held back, which means your head's up and you are moving in a certain way," she said.

"Without the clothes I don't think I would have been able to be her to the same degree. I wouldn't have been able to feel like her."

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US actress Phoebe Dynevor arrives for the sixth annual Instyle Awards at The Getty Center in Los Angeles, November 15, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)
Phoebe Dynevor was the last star of Bridgerton. (Getty Images)

Ashley also gave an insight into what other parts of filming for Bridgerton were like, including being cast in the first place. "Representation matters," she told UK Glamour.

"I didn't really watch period dramas much because I felt like I couldn't relate to them, maybe because I couldn't see myself within one."

But, she added, smiling, "And then Bridgerton came along."

Despite the more traditional, 19th century aspects of the show – riding horses, shooting parties and so on –Ashley made the point that "it's about real people with real human problems and feelings", one of the many reasons it's been so popular.

While she had only ridden a horse once before, luckily for her, Ashley said she is "quite sporty anyway". "At the start, I was in the saddle every other day, pretty much for one to one and a half hours a day. I love it."

Having moved back to the UK from LA, she said riding even helped to ease the change of lifestyle. "I think that was something that really helped, because once you're on the horse, you kind of get out your head and you don't think of anything else."

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When it comes to living in the Regency period, Ashley commented that she's not sure how she would have dealt with the limitations for women. "Now women just have more freedom to be whoever they want to be. There's not a small, tiny box that we have to fit into any more."

However, while she feels "a lot has changed for women," she added, "there's still lots of room for development", with sexism still rife.

Posting her stunning cover-girl image for UK Glamour on Instagram, Ashley added an inspiring message for women worldwide, "Let's continue to lift our fellow females up higher and spread the love!"