Our Relationship to Our Bodies, and Corseting

More than one person during my personal and professional love of, commitment to, and relationship with corseting and waist training, has asked if it has to do with some psychological need or lack in my life. Perhaps.

Certainly, I’ve been and am subject as are all women, to lifelong constant social, cultural, overt, covert, impersonal, and personal bombardments regarding my body: what’s right for it’s size, its shape, its too muchs and too littles. For women that also converts into social messages about youth and age, and the latter ain’t pretty!

Such daily messages drill down into one’s consciousness for better or worse. It’s well known that women suffer more body dysmorphia than men, perhaps in all of western culture, but certainly in the United States.

The most recent reminder was occasioned by the death of Hugh Hefner of Playboy infamy, the man who proceeded our so-called president as the classic mysogenist spewing out hateful, wrong-headed messages about the female as victim and her “desireable no. 10” status as object and property of powerful men to do as they wish. (Then of course, some women further victimize ourselves and can inadvertently aid our oppressors first, by not speaking up or out, and second, by voting for an oppressor to sully the highest office of our country or the highest court of our land; a particular Supreme Court Justice and a particular so-called president come to mind).

Many of us women are, indeed, alienated from our bodies. Clearly, it’s not limited to women, but our alienation takes on a unique complexion and adds a special burden to our lives.

The concept of alienation was brought to mind by a small article published in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday, “New Sentences” by Sam Anderson, who said:

        “The little man (in my conscience) is a perfect metaphor for our alienation from our own bodies. We are our bodies, of course, and yet we do not speak the same language. They speak to us in urgent codes: swelling, cramping, twitching. We contain whole ecosystems of resistance to ourselves.”

One of my conclusions about the possible value of wearing corsets and waist training, relates to body alienation and learning how to deal with negative resistance. It was reached many years ago and sparked by reading the seminal work by Professor David Kunzle on corseting–

     — corsets actually put us “in touch” with our bodies and our spirits in a positive way.–

The sweet hug of corset-on-skin, the slightly unbearable pressure in lacing down or staying tightly corseted a half hour longer than pleasant in order to test one’s limits, tends to bring one’s consciousness right back into the present moment with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. We can no longer ignore our noble or ignoble bodily urges and feelings: we have to pay attention. We have to feel life in the moment.

For me, that is one of the great pleasures I experience in corseting: feeling the moment.

It is a strategy I have adopted since trying on my first corset in 1989, in order to learn to live even more in the moment, to appreciate the fleeting of time, and to put my daily troubles into perspective.

To me, that’s a positive reason to corset, and has nothing to do with body dysmorphia.

Perhaps Mr. Anderson might find comfort in the same strategy one day?

(Copper leather-lace-and-rhinestone corset, and smile!!!– by BR Creations for ROMANTASY)

 

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The Mac-sizing of the world continues…

In my Dec. 2016 book on corset waist training, I survey a few countries that, like the US, have suffered from growing obesity. Sadly, the other day I saw a news article that there is now a line of plus-sized children’s clothing. I guess that’s a good thing, but reflects a sad direction in our children’s health.

The NYT on Sunday Sept 17 featured a stunning front page article on the above trend, stating that there are now more than 700 million obese people worldwide and 108 of them are children. It went on to feature the super-sizing of Brazilians (“How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food”). As incomes have increased in Brazil, so have food preferences for fast foods full of sugar and fat. In that country obesity has nearly doubled in 10 years to 20 percent, and overweight individuals have tripled to 58 percent.

Mere obesity is not the problem, malnourishment is.

One of the primary culprits is Swiss food giant Nestle. Nestle now markets (since establishing the basis of the program in 1976 as to integrate with the host country) door-to-door push-carts for low income neighborhoods (think Mary Kay or Tupperware, or from my childhood, the musical ice cream man trucks). The carts feature packaged sweets full of sugar. Sadly, cart sales help the cart owner to earn money to feed her family (most owners are women, apparently). The lady pictured in the article weighs over 2oo lbs. Meanwhile, Nestle markets itself as committed to health and wellness — two current catch words that are replacing the dread word “diet”.

The article mentions that big food is also attacking health in China, South Africa and Columbia, with growing political influence. The problem of growing waistlines and weight is no longer a US phenomenon.

I’m not sure where I am going with this astounding but not unexpected information, except to feel even more disturbed and saddened by the state of Big Food in corporate America. The US almost defeated Big Tobacco, but it took over 20years of consistent airtime on tv for public health announcements, and citizen’s speaking up — many of their stories frightening and tragic when the decimated victims of tobacco spoke in public against smoking. The story makes me sympathetic to the challenges that all of us face from irresponsible media messages, and re-committed to doing my best when and where I can to encourage anyone to reduce, and to just give up, white sugar, preservatives, dyes, and prepackaged food. At some point we have to behave like a nurturing adult to our adolescent urges to just give up and give in and follow the herd.

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July pill hits market to cause waistline inch loss — only one inch in six months????

Interesting article on DuPont’s pill, Howaru Shape. The weight-loss product is mainly a probiotic, but DuPont also provides a combo of probiotic and fiber. Apparently the probiotic along caused one inch waistline loss in six? months in the research group. I don’t want to mislead anyone and have not read other than a brief summary of the research;  there are obviously other details in the study. Note that one research group taking the dual-time pill lost over 4% in body fat and one waistline inch loss plus added muscle, so there are beneficial results to be sure.

But, what’s of interest is this:

Here’s our lovely Kiska pictured. She completed our formal corset waist training (three months of coaching) in early May. These show before and after pictures not altered in any way, one set corseted and one set natural. You can note that by the end of the three months Kiska could rather easily close the training corset and wear it up to 10 hrs a day.

Here’s another picture of her before and after posture without the corset. Amazing, no?

Importantly, Kiska dropped over two inches and 10 lbs in her waistline in three months–which leads me to ask:

Can’t DuPont’s pills do any better than one waistline inch loss in six months?

Hmmmmm……I’m wondering what six months of DuPont’s pills cost?

Our coaching program is $400 (plus another $100 is taken on deposit but returned to you if you successfully complete the full coaching program. If you do not for any reason, then we donate $100 to our battered women’s shelter, La Casa de las Madres. How the coaching program works is accurately described on our website.

I’ve occasionally read questions online as to why anyone would “need” a coach for waist training? Some do not and some do.

To be sure, there is a lot of information out there these days online by corset makers, many quite reputable and knowledgeable about corsets. Some have hundreds of clients, but none to my knowledge have formally coached 30 or more students since 1998 when we took on our first student (a man from London, P.H.)

In addition, there is a lot of sharing of information by those with little experience, and experience counts for a lot to help the newbie not waste time by re-inventing the training wheels, or panicking at any little twinge or tweak while corseting.

The more you know — the easier the go in corset waist training!

 

 

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The Most Perplexing Thing about Corset Waist Training

“You’ve got to give yourself two, three, four years of consistent behavioral changes (after maximum effort to lose weight/shape up). That is hard work. You’re building new habits. And that takes time,” Bellatti says.

I’ve read about the facts covered in the above July article, that The Biggest (weight) Losers from the tv show of that name, gain most or all of their weight back — and some gain even more.Why?

I’ve read explanations that hormonal changes dictate this result, or that during strict dieting one’s metabolism slows down and remains down even when one starts to eat more after a diet ends.

The above article summarizes a position I’ve come to, that yes, there are genetic and complex metabolic processes going on that we cannot change, but that is not the be all and end all of maintaining a healthy waist size over the years. Behavior change and sound decision making are also important. I call it “acting like an adult and not letting your adolescent rule your eating choices and behavior.”

One aspect of behavior change that can have a positive effect on the figure and weight, involves fashion. Start wearing a corset!

Wearing a well-fitting, attractive, fashionable custom corset either as foundation wear or on the outside of clothing, is not only effective in controlling portions of food and encouraging better posture (especially holding in the lower belly), it is darned fun!

For women who often from childhood play around with clothing, fashion, style, and color, designing a corset then wearing it as a piece of sexy lingerie can be the opposite of what one might expect. Not only is that type of corset not painful — it’s comfortable and it quickly becomes easy to wear and to slowly lace down as inches drop off the waistline,  and even pounds drop off if you want that, too (each result requires a bit of a different approach to corseting).

Not long ago the Sunday Magazine of the NYT had an article authored by a curvy woman who had tried every conceivable diet and approach to weight loss, to improving her health, and to reducing long-term risk, except she failed to mention corseting (see recent blog comment). Clearly, she was unaware of common-sense corset waist training, or had set it aside as an option she would not try (nor did she try expensive, extreme bariatric surgery, thank goodness!).

To me, that’s the most perplexing thing about corset waist training. Not only is it not a diet, it’s not onerous, it’s not hard (tho it can be challenging as one gets used to a structured garment rather than sloppy t-shirts we are more accustomed to wearing these days), it doesn’t take all that long to see results — and — it’s darn right fun! (Did I say that before?) Just like wearing a lacy bra and panties, corset waist training can go on the rest of one’s life (after proper seasoning of a new corset and getting used to it).

One of my three-month waist-training program coaching students told me that each morning when she woke up, she absolutely delighted in rushing to put on her gorgeous waist-training corset. She used that motivation to stay in the corset the required number of hours scheduled for that day, and she found it not all that difficult to do even when the hours each day built up to 10 or more in the latter part of her program, and at tighter lacing-down levels.

We recommend you don’t opt for a readymade, dull, boring underbust corset in which to waist train. Go for fully custom, go for colors, fabrics, and designs that you believe to be artistic and attractive, add a bit of embellishment (some is fine even if the corset is worn under clothing), and get something you love and will be attracted to.

True, some fabrics are a bit more delicate and if the corset is worn under clothing, the fabric may “rub” and threads become loosened over time. There are possible fixes to that (installation of outer bone casings to reinforce fabric or as we did in one case, removed the polysilk front busk and replaced it with cotton twill leaving the polysilk corset otherwise intact). The ivory paisley polysilk and peach cotton-backed satin corset pictured here, is from Bettina, one of my favorite, serious corset enthusiast clients. It is just lovely — and functional, and some years later after a good bit of wear, is still intact!

 

I have always trained in a simple hourglass cotton-backed satin corset such as the black one pictured here, one usually made by Ruth Johnson/BR Corsets. My old corset is showing a bit of scuffing along the front busk. Sometimes the braid trim I’ve added to a corset will fray, but with this minor issue or with eventual scuffing, the structure remains sound.

With a beautiful corset attractive to you, you’ll enjoy the adventure of corset waist training, and most likely begin to see some results in a few months, as most of my dedicated clients and waist-training students have seen.

(Orange polysilk corset by Sue Nice on model Ana; Bettina’s corset by Jill Hoverman; black and paisley corset on model Jasmine, by Jill Hoverman).

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Body Acceptance, obesity, overweight, fitness, and risk to health

Body acceptance, including of any and all when it comes to race, culture, age, size and shape, has been much in the news and social media commentary during the past few years. Health and fitness have replaced the word “diet”. Today  I saw that Helen Mirren is featured on the  Sept. magazine cover of  Allure — which magazine has apparently eschewed forevermore the word “anti-aging.”

I’ve always supported the notion that curvy women look better in corsets and “take to” them easier than do slender folks. ROMANTASY features a full-figure gallery to encourage women of all sizes and shape to try a corset for any of a number of purposes. One of our clients pictured on that page had a bosom measurement of 54″ and a waistline measurement of up to 60″ is not all that abnormal over our 27 years in this corset business.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of the vast majority of my typical corset clients over the years. Marcia Venema (holding flowers), is one of our most loving supporters of all things corset and of my modest small business venture, with an amazing 16″ natural hip spring (waist vs hips). (Black and white, and magenta corset by Sue Nice, former team member; blue and brown corsets by Sheri; ).

In general, I agree with the body acceptance trend, but honestly, I have always had a vaguely discomfiting feeling that I have not been able to name, when it comes to that term, in conjunction wtih how to think about large waist sizes and weight.

Most of us know about Dr. Oz and many others in the medical fields who advise that a woman’s waist should not exceed 35″ and a man’s 40″, in order to minimize many health risks as we age. Now I’ve read that for us women, it might be 31″ for the waistline goal! (see below)

To me, the bottom line is that we each have to judge our own body size and shape as to whether we feel good and safe in them, healthy, and out of pain. But I continue to wonder if obesity is ever a good thing to support in the name of body acceptance?

As for Mirren as Allure’s Sept. Cover Woman (let’s dump forever the term “girl” as Mirren is surely not that!), one can only muse, “why now, and why not eons ago?” Betty Friedan mused along with me in 2006, but not eons ago, when she published a book I recommend to all, The Fountain of Age. Aging is not a trip to the garbage heap according to Friedan. But there’s a lot more research to be done with attention to men and women over 70, to fill in a huge gap in knowledge as Friedan points out.

And of course, there is a lot more research to be done on weight, waist size, hunger, eating habits, nutrition, and related health matters.

Lately The European Heart Journal reported on a new study from London designed to find a correlation between people who were fat but fit, and heart disease. 521.000 Europeans from 10 countries participated and were monitored for 15 years. It’s worth a read if like me, you are struggling with the concept of body image and how that relates to overall health and health risks.

The researchers noted individuals as being “unhealthy” if they were found to have at least three harmful metabolic markers such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and a larger waist size (37″ for men and 31″ for women). Meanwhile, those with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 were considered “obese,” while participants with a BMI of 25-30 were viewed as overweight. Anyone with a BMI of 18.5-25 was listed as normal.

While participants who made the “unhealthy” list were more than twice as likely to suffer from coronary heart disease regardless of weight, people considered “healthy” under the formula who were overweight still had a 26 percent greater risk of battling the condition. Obese “healthy” participants were found to have a 28 percent increase risk.

More than 10,000 people served as a control group for the study and factors such as exercise level, smoking history, and socio-economic status were taken into account for the research.

The authors believe that “the excess weight itself may not be increasing the risk of heart disease directly, but rather indirectly through mechanisms such as increased blood pressure and high glucose.” They agree that stronger awareness and prevention measures, along with treatment of obesity, be offered by doctors so that those who “fat, but fit” don’t lose sight of losing weight.

“I think there is no longer this concept of healthy obese,” says Dr. Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial’s School of Public Health. If anything, our study shows that people with excess weight who might be classed as ‘healthy’ haven’t yet developed an unhealthy metabolic profile. That comes later in the timeline, then they have an event, such as a heart attack.”

I’ll let that be the last word for now, but always welcome your thoughts on the matter!

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Don’t Let One Uninformed or Prejudiced Corset Comment go Unrefuted

I’ve always been one to speak up about policies and procedures that make no sense, or about something that I feel will improve my family, community or personal life. That also includes corsets.

Some who first considering wearing a corset, equate them with being from the fringe or the fetish world. Some see only the sexual aspect of corseting, not realizing that corsets are worn for a countless number of distinct, beneficial reasons (See corset enthusiast/corset maker Lucy William’s book, Solaced, available on amazon.com). Some fear that being identified with corsets by letter writing, or by wearing the corset as an outer fashion garment, or even by stealthing and being outed in some way, will bring opprobrium down on their head. They don’t see sufficient benefit of posting public comments or writing letters to editors or to authors of articles to correct wrong statements about corsets, to provide personal examples of positive benefits, or to make comments on style, design, and construction. I wonder how truly harmful those comments would be, really, or even if they would hear any at all? Most folks are into their own things and go about their business with little regard for others who might be tangential.

Perhaps we succumb to imagined trauma when there is none these days? Corsets are worn visibly and are ubiquitous outside of a fetish content. With nearly 400 international corset makers showing their wares on the web and rushing out gorgeous custom creations to hundreds if not thousands of clients all over the world?

A  rather new BFF of mine is subject to the connection of wearing corsets with both delight, and with shame. Recently she picked up a stunning, comfy and well fitting new overbust corset by Sheri (pictured here with lavendar paisley corset fitting properly; note there is no “toothpaste” protruding underneathe her arms; nor in the back which is not pictured) who is now our preferred ROMANTASY CORSETIERE (send us email for a direct referral to work with Sheri on your design and style needs).

My friend doesn’t feel comfortable enough to let her 40-year old daughter know that she is wearing a corset as a foundation garment, yet her daughter commented on her good posture and lovely bosom supported properly by an overbust style.  In addition, she has gotten many favorable comments even tho viewers don’t know she is wearing a corset, many along the lines of “Wow–you look great; that inspires me to start losing some weight too!”

Her daughter questioned the height of her mom’s bosom in the corset. Of course the corset needs some seasoning to fit better over time, and it needs to be pulled a bit down on my friend’s body (with the lean-pull technique).

As another example, the client, not my new friend, pictured here is wearing a red Chinese polysilk underbust style corset too high on her torso, allowing her lower stomach to protrude outward. She pulled the corset down about one inch and lo! it fit perfectly!

My BFF needs to remember that a corset tends to rise when sitting for a while, and over a day of wearing. Wearing a corset takes some attention and some tinkering with height and lacing down; the best fit requires some adjustment during the day until the corset settles on the body. Of course, we’re so used to seeing ourselves slump under loose clothing styles, that just seeing better posture looking back in the mirror can be stunning, even shocking, and take some getting used to. Most of all, my newly-corseting friend needs to heed my advice to delay any negative — or positive ultimate conclusion if corsets are for her or not.

Aside from potential negative or ill-informed comments that need to be corrected when they occur in the media, often corsets in the news are simply left out in any discussion about health or body size or shape, or about fat, obesity, and diet challenges.

That’s true of one New York Times Magazine’s article from this past Sunday (see below). It’s as if corsets and corset waist training just don’t exist, much like society has treated women as not existing in  conversations conducted and dominated by men in the boardroom and conference hall. Women have to push their way in and speak up to be heard; it takes courage. Courage is more important than courtesy, as Senator Kamala Harris believes (she’s publishing a button with that saying, and I’m waiting for mine to wear proudly).

I urge you to consider pushing your way into any misguided corset conversation, or where your informed comment may be relevant, so that these wonderful garments and their many benefits become more broadly available in the consciousness of anyone who wants to improve their posture and/or lose weight or waistline inches. It’s one more option of self-improvement that has nothing to do with dieting and everything to do with feeling good, fashionable, feminine, comfy, and au courant!! We need every voice to speak up to address “The Corset Question” and diminish it’s ludicrousness and invented foundational belief that corsets cause pain.

On another point, one person reminded me to confront statements like I used to make, that modern day corsetry well fit and custom, is a lot more comfy than Victorian corsets were. But that’s simply not true — or women would have been complaining and not wearing them a long time ago!  Any custom corset properly fit, then slowly seasoned and worn properly on the torso and with respect to the body’s messages about comfort and health, can be beneficial, and almost never detrimental to health and well being if common sense is applied in the wearing.

If you want to know how to safely and sanely waist train, check out what a doctor, nutritionist, and corsetmaker say about my new “how to waist train” primer book (just $14.95 online). It can help ease your way into comfy waist training, and avoid most pesky problems that might occur for some.

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Letter to the Editor, New York Times 8/8/17

Dear Editor:

I feel for Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s angst about weight  (“Losing It”, NYT Magazine 8/6/17). However, the public obsession pro or con fat (or whatever PC term we are supposed to use now), is about sexism at base. Women at the other end of the weight spectrum get trashed, too. Society thinks it’s just fine to lob cruel public comments at thin and fat women. What’s sad is that Taffy has not found anything to help but the old saws of superfoods, bariatric surgery, and the like. She could think entirely out of the box, and try corset waist training. It’s a fashionable and fun approach that’s completely unrelated to dieting. Simply don a beautifully crafted custom corset to immediately improve posture plus comfortably nip inches off any persons’s waistline. Soon looking better translates into feeling better, as do the positive public comments you’ll receive. Meanwhile the corset mandates portion control: overeat and the resulting discomfort reminds you to resist the next time you eat. I’ve coached students in the initial three-month process for 25 years. Wearing a corset gives them time for stomachs to become less elastic, and encourages the development of new, beneficial nutrition, food, and exercise choices. It shrinks the waistline in an amazingly short time, and you can lose weight if you want to. Better yet, like wearing panties or a bra, wearing a comfy corset occasionally becomes second nature to a woman so that we continue to reap the lifelong rewards of the initial success that every single student I’ve coached has experienced. ###

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Sleep, sleep and more sleep!

Today I read yet another study that confirms that sleep is good for us:

LONDON – Getting one extra hour of sleep each night might shave a third of an inch off your waist and a couple of pounds off the number on the bathroom scale, a recent study suggests.

Not only BMI (body mass index) but also waist circumference, can change with eight plus hours of sleep:

The longest sleepers also had waist circumferences averaging 1.6 inches smaller than the shortest sleepers. Each extra hour of sleep was tied to a third of an inch difference in waist size and 0.46 of a BMI point, the study team reports.

That’s why I have a section in my “how to” waist train book, that recommends 8 hrs or sleep! Yes, corset wear, nutrition changes (a few) and specific exercises are also highly recommended, but so is sleep. Please consider this information and new study carefully if you are set on a disciplined corset waist-training program!

 

 

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