Some Post-“20/20” TV Program Thoughts about the Media and the Topic of Corsets

Since airing of the corset segment on the “20/20” show on ABC-TV last Friday, Oct. 12, I’ve received many Facebook messages, emails and telephone calls. As I might expect, to a person these inquiries and comments have been positive, curious, and open to further information on the process of corset waist training. Callers ask about how waist training can create both waistline inch loss and pound loss as well, or just one of these depending on how you go about the process.

To a person, comments of those who watched the program have also reflected puzzlement that national entertainment tv media continues obstinately and inevitably to associate corseting –which helps one lose weight in a fun and fashionable, non-harmful way — with “extremism” and harm.

Witness what one announcement on the “20/20” show said:  “waist training is the extreme of corseting.” Witness the theme of the entire show: Extremism. Keturah, the producer who kindly sought us out for initial program research and preparation, did not reveal that program theme to us. We posed two or three questions to her during a week of multiple emails and telephone calls to prepare, and five hours of filming. Perhaps the press of her incredibly busy schedule caused her to overlook our inquiry. In the end it all boiled down to our 45 second appearance as reporter Deborah Robert’s coach. You’ll see above and to the left, the lovely little trainer corset we delivered to Deborah to experiment with, produced by Jill on our great corsetiere team (we also gifted Ms. Roberts with a matching refrigerator magnet using her corset fabrics). Ms. Roberts went about her corseting experiment using common sense and moderation as we advised and as we expected her to do — so what is “extreme” about that?

Witness how the Comcast TV guide so comically and erroneously articulated the upcoming program: “new ‘Going to Extremes’. People who know no boundaries while pursuing their goals…women who wear corsets to lose weight.”

Know no boundaries? First of all, the non-sequitur of this advance publicity is nothing short of hilarious. Comcast got it entirely and quite evidently wrong: corsets create boundaries not only for our expanding flesh, but more importantly, boundaries for our obsession with food, our overeating, and our poor self image. They support and encourage discipline and self- control. To that extent, corset waist training encourages the path of moderation; Aristotle and mom would be proud!

What is “extreme” about wanting to take care of one’s health, improve one’s figure and posture, and lose weight in a few months via a fashion garment? What’s extreme about that, in a society where 50% of us American’s will be obese by next year, according to the information provided recently on the tv show “The Chew”?

Isn’t obesity the real shocker here? Isn’t our continuing seeking for the “quick fix yesterday” the real culprit in our size health crises?

One of my facebook friends thinks so: “No doubt, your segment looked much more reasonable (compared to the other segment topics or interviewees). But then I might be biased! 🙂 I too am concerned with the health of this nation, I’ve seen waistlines explode in just the last few years. Its so common these days to see people who are experiencing weight related serious health issues. Hopefully some will see the benefit that corset training can provide.”

I’ve always known the risk of cooperating with the media regarding my topic, profession and product. By necessity the popular media has to boil down any issue to minute-long segments and second-long sound bites, due to the short attention span of the general viewing public and limited financial resources these days to pursue in-depth reporting. They simply are unable to give a complex topic the time it deserves. Accordingly, there’s an inherent risk in boiling down the topic of corseting, because of the misinformation out there, and long-lived prejudices against the garment. Prejudice is associated in my opinion with our deep-seated American Puritanical history that causes some of us to instinctively recoil from female sexuality. The corset definitely sexualizes the body and reveals feminine curves, but its magical benefits reach much farther than that.

In the case of the “20/20” producer’s invitation to be interviewed, I accepted the risk once more as I have during the past five times I have cooperated with the popular national media, because of the invaluable opportunity offered for me to reach out to those who might never have considered the health benefits of corsetry. I optimistically (according to my nature) felt I would be accurately quoted– and was, but for shortening of one statement that heartburn may occur — if you eat too quickly or too much. I hoped for a moderate, fact-based approach as I and many others whom they interviewed, stressed, and generally those quoted and those corseted ladies shown, were not at all extreme.  I banked on the hope that — even were the traditional media viewpoint to prevail in their  “spin” of the  topic, some program viewers might at least “hear” a positive message about corsetry and open up their minds. I hoped for that, even if my callers continued to hesitate because of comments included in the program in what some might call a misguided effort to be objective and discuss the opposing viewpoints — comments such as those offered by the OB-GYN who opined that corsets “cause lung damage” (see excellent blog on that comment at lucycorsetry.com).

Quite earnestly I will soon attempt to reach out to the physician to ask about the factual basis for her opinion. I wonder how many patients she has treated in her practice, who corset regularly and waist train, who have also experienced lung damage? I would be surprised if there were one.  I wonder about the kind and extent of that damage, and whether it became permanent? At least my mind is open to facts and continued learning, so that I don’t mislead my clients or waist-training students.

However, in  24 years of discussing the corset with clients and many other corset enthusiasts and in my personal wearing experience of many different styles of corsets over the years,  I’ve never encountered this kind of damage or heard about it before, other than in Victorian novels.  Nor have the eight doctors with whom I’ve consulted (seven of whom corset themselves) who have reviewed my book text, ever reported that kind of damage or  risk of same. And I made that fact clear to the producers of the show during their advance research, and also to reporter Roberts during my interview. Roberts then quite willingly, responsibly, and even joyfully, set out to wear her adorable corset and to experience waist training personally.

Sadly, perhaps some women  are to blame for perpetuating the connection of corsets with harm. If we don’t accept invitations to speak up and out on our topic, how can we complain? I also remain convinced that the perception of “harm” comes primarily from how the wearer approaches the garment, and not from the corset per se. Witness a paragraph taken from the October People Magazine (discovered by happenstance and kindly sent to me by Sunny, seen left, the onsite producer on her way home to Los Angeles from our Corset Salon filming). The paragraph reported on country pop star Carrie Underwood who wore a boned garment to the 2012 CMA awards.  Underwood apparently chose a garment with plastic boning, obviously not custom and/or not well constructed or sturdy.  Underwood said that her “almost bleeding” experience wearing it as bones poked out and dug in, was “worth every cent” and she “would not take it back.”

That some rock stars and folks buy brand but not fit or quality, that we tolerate real damage, and that we admit to same,  make those women sound truly foolish — and clearly, some of us are. Having a lot of money or education has nothing to do with exercising common sense and demanding quality and value for what we pay.

As one of my friends so kindly said a long time ago: “When you deal with ROMANTASY you always get what you pay for. When you deal with others, then maybe you don’t.” While corsets certainly aren’t for everybody, and while no business including ours, can be perfect or please everyone, we do strive to be responsive within the limits of our humanity and our ability — and we always focus on education first and never, ever push anyone to buy a garment that might not fit their needs, lifestyle, or budget, or fit our skill level and ability to deliver.

We are always heartened to know that we are succeeding in accomplishing our business mission and should keep on keeping on, when we receive unsolicited comments such as  that Janine just sent us. We had questioned her measurements in an online order, and asked her to retake them to be sure of a good fit: “Ann No, thanks go from me to you. I must say I am touched by your caring personalized service and I am looking forward to talking with you as we go forward :).” (10/16/12).

Toni, a long-time corset enthusiast and friend, recently recalled many years ago when I followed up in the same fashion regarding her first corset online order sent to ROMANTASY via email, and there came to be a meaningful, close professional and personal connection between us. http://www.flickr.com/photos/53443520@N05/sets/72157631756493902/

In reflecting on my experience working with the ABC-TV crew (sound and lighting crew seen below right), two producers, and one media star, Ms. Roberts — all of whom were cordial, open to learning, and enjoyable to work with — I can’t go quite so far as our corset enthusiast educator friend Lucy does, and conclude that the “20/20” program was overall not helpful to our cause. Our cause stands by itself, and should be promoted only to those who want to know the truth. Folks who take their time to be thoughtful about the limitations and primary purpose of entertainment vs. educational media, who seek to do a wee bit of homework and take personal responsibility to know the facts vs. the sterotype, who focus on improving their health  first and foremost, and who truly care about quality in comportment and dressing, will seek out and find those of us who care about the same things.

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Filed under Announcements, General Waist Training Information, Hot Topics on Health

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