I was wondering if there has been much research on how far this interest/lifestyle goes back? Or is it a relatively new thing?
I would imagine that to some degree it must be a relatively new lifestyle choice. It wouldn't be impossible, but I would think it might be harder to enjoy ab/dl prior to the 1900s. Just due to the lack of leisure time, harder-working lifestyles, lack of modern convenences like disposable diapers and indoor laundry equipment, etc.
But, I'm sure there's someone smarter than me that might know of historical or maybe literary references to people engaging in such behavior, if it is little known facts of famous people. (IIRC, for example, the first British governor of New York was a cross-dresser, and would meet people at his home in 17th/18th century women's fashions.).
I was just highly curious is all.