Monthly Archives: April 2015

Some thoughts about pain and corseting

Lacing help or notIn early April of 2015 I began thinking more about some comments I had recently read, and those over the past few years that I’ve run across, regarding comfort level during waist training or simple corset wearing. Some say that if you experience aching or soreness, you should either take a break from corseting, or loosen up.
The matter seems more complex and nuanced to me. Of course, those who hold that opinion are coming down on the side of caution and I can’t completely disagree.
Yet I wonder how many times you or I start to feel a bit challenged in some endeavor or when wearing our corset, a body ache or pain, and we decide to cut ourselves some slack? Maybe we do loosen up or do take it off and skip a day of corseting. But when do we “cut and run” too early, or too late for that matter? There’s no simple answer.
What if we are generally healthy and our challenge and discomfort has nothing to do with the heart or blood pressure or serious breathlessness, and doesn’t involve notable swelling, bruising, welting, tingling, severe pinching or pushing to the point of truly excruciating pain, isn’t clearly associated with serious acid reflux or migraines? Or what if in our subjective judgment (pain is, after all, a subjective experience), we do experience a bit of pain, yet decide to persist in corseting? I’m not one to say in all circumstances, loosen up.
Consider how many times we have put on an uncomfortable, perhaps pointed-toed, pair of heels and walked farther than was just comfortable, even to the point of getting some blisters. Don’t ballerina’s dance sometimes until their feet bleed? Haven’t we seen marathon runners collapse, or Olympian skiers and runners fall just before the goal line? Sometimes they struggle up and make it!
Some years ago when I was more regularly corseting and gradually lacing down and moving up in wearing hours to achieve noteworthy waist reduction and reach my personal best of 19.5″ (over the corset, of course), quite a few times I kept my corset on and tight-laced beyond just discomfort and even yes, into a good bit of pain. My waistline would ache terribly and I would want out in the worst way. But I would distract myself, move positions, eye the clock, and decide how much longer I could tolerate the challenge.
If we don’t challenge ourselves to reach the boundaries of pain and sometimes beyond, especially as we become experienced corset-wearers with well-seasoned corsets, I’m not certain that we have given waist training our best effort.
My ultimate perspective on the matter is derived from my position of being first a radical feminist and second, a “leaning Libertarian.” You may then understand that at base I believe it is your choice to make in most everything in life including corseting, and my opinion or advice about pain and when to loose up or take your corset off is at base irrelevant.

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Postscript: I just saw the newscast on May 8 Friday and Channel 7’s Person of the Week: Sarah Cudd. In fact, Captain Sarah Cudd. Cameras filmed the last few feet of her 12 mile hike in late April  to earn her Expert Field Medical Badge test carrying a 30 lb. pack as she completed training in the Army. The video went viral when posted on Facebook in May: http://www.inquisitr.com/2067186/army-captain-sarah-cudd-finishing-expert-field-medical-badge-video-goes-viral/

She fell at least twice just yards from the finish line, with time ticking away. Her army buddies surrounded her to cheer her on and encourage her to get up, to “lean in” (as Facebook executive  Sheryl Sandberg would say), and to struggle on step by step until she crossed the finish line in time.  No one could touch her to help.

Three days ago I watched Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. star in the 2000 movie “Men of Honor”  about the Navy diver, Carl Brashear, an African American, who wanted desperately to reach Master Diver status, and who did so after losing an injured leg (his choice rather than be crippled the rest of his life). It is a remarkable true story. Wearing a new diving suit that weighted 250 lbs., he could barely take the 12 steps required to prove his ability in front of his judgment court, but he did. Two weeks ago I was astounded an my senior center where I now regularly exercise three times a week, to see a lovely, grey-haired petite lady sit down across from me and proceed to follow the instructor’s exercises one by one. Her caregiver was sitting by me. We chatted between huffing and puffing along, and I learned the lady was only 93 years old. Need I say more?

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More on Corset Durability

HOW LONG DOES A CUSTOM CORSET LAST?  The answer has a lot to do with care.

Corset by Sue for ROMANTASYWe like to say that a custom corset is strong yes, but it is not a Mac Truck! To get the best value for your investment of some hundreds of dollars, you best treat the garment with respect as a start.

Here’s a gorgeous corset by our former team member Sue Nice, delivered to our client Megan in early December, 2006. Owner Megan is an entertainer who wears the corset regularly to perform. The corset is almost nine years old and she returned it to us but not for repair; the corset is in great shape and obviously, has been well treated. She wanted us to add some pizzazz (see the silver braid trims and bow added). Here is what she told us about her perspective on corsets and care:

“A corset is a key piece of apparel. Not only is it highly functional, but its appearance matters to your overall aesthetic as well. It can create a sophistication of appearance that no other garment I know of can. You look complete. That’s why I see it as a key feature of my vampire look. You look composed and controlled.

“Now, vampires, in the old folklore, were blood maddened beasts with a hunger for the vitality of the living via blood, so what better contrast could there be between such a creature – a beast, really – and the refinement/ poise of a corseted figure? Vampire fiction sprang during the Victorian period, noted for corsetry, when everyone and everything was to be controlled in some way. Just as the vampire is a metaphor for losing control simply to survive, the corset is a symbol of that controlled nature.

“Not only does it look good, and have plenty of health benefits (my bad back loves my corset), but corsets can symbolize so much. With so many benefits, why abuse it? If it does so much for you, why can’t you do even a little for it?”

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Musing about “Custom” and Dementia

I would like to introduce a discussion about dementia and corseting. How can such a connection exist between those two? Easy.

My trusty New York Times Style Magazine from this past Sunday had an article  “Remembrance of Things Lost” by Walter Kirn. Mr. Kirn opined about the changes that have come to methods of remembering, to his family and to his friends with the advent of social media,  joy sticks,  iPhones, and Instagrams. He mentioned a University College London study on the alleged “contribution of technology to early dementia.” Those hooked into the new technologies fail to exercise their memories and brains, letting devices do all the recording, communicating, and connecting for them.

Not all that surprising.

I also loved another NYT Magazine  article, “The Enigma of Haute Couture.” Just this weekend I was cleaning out and organizing files, and found an article I had written in 1998 for publication in a small local San Francisco newspaper, on how clients did not understand the concept of “custom.” In those days in my boutique when they came to order a custom corset, but tried on a sample corset in a standard size, they often commented: “but this doesn’t fit me,” or “the hips stick out”. They failed to understand that this was only a fit sample, that their corset would be personally measured and made  to fit their body as nearly perfectly as our corset maker could humanly produce.

Or, they inquired on email:  “I want it to be as long as X corset pictured on your website”. They clearly did not understand that we couldn’t do that. Nor can we today. What we can do is make their corset as long as the specific measurement they send me to make it for their body.

It’s the same today, some  17 years later.

I still receive the same comments. Clients don’t understand that a pictured corset on someone else (a client or a model) might not look the same and likely won’t look the same, when the client wears his or her own custom corset. It will look like the client’s body but made a bit more svelte and shapely than before corseting. Still it will look like the client’s body and not my model’s body — and a corset certainly won’t “disappear” flesh or fat as some seem to expect.

The Times raised the issue of, is this kind of couture made-to-measure fashion “a treasure, or a relic”? He opts for treasure, and so do I.

But it’s a relevant question because as the writer opined, “ready-to-wear has superficially co-opted couture’s dazzling techniques and it’s sumptuous materials.”

Similarly, ready-to-wear corsets popularly called “OTC” corsets, have done the same to the custom-made corset business. A new custom corset client recently sent me a picture of her first OTC corset made in Pakistan. It was very curvy and well-proportioned in a lovely hourglass silhouette for her full figure. I’m hoping for her permission soon to post the picture.

But the curvy silhouette she showed me in her OTC corset was news to me. A few years ago OTC corsets were produced mainly with the U-silhouette or a tubular silhouette,  more or less shaped like the red corset shown to the right. That silhouette and the shorter vertical front are not good or healthy choices for waist training corsets suitable for fuller figures.  The problem is evident in the picture!OTC too short

The same problem appeared for my client, that is,  the corset was too short on the bottom half and did not cover or push inward her lower belly. The problem  resulted in pooching her belly outward under the bottom hem. Not good. Not custom. Not like her custom corset will look or fit on my client’s torso when it is delivered in a few more weeks.

You can see another example below left, appearing even in a fully custom corset, and resulting from the client sending in too short of a vertical measurement from the waist down. This otherwise lovely blue silk dragon BR Creations corset was just a bit too short to adequately control this client’s tummy. So the problem does not inhere solely in OTC corsets. It takes thinking, it takes research, and it takes careful measurements to come up with a good fit in a custom corset, certainly more than a ‘point-and-click’ kind of purchase. That it might take a few shekels more than OTC make sense especially when you consider the wisdom in the old saying of a “being penny wise and pound foolish.”

Sidefront too shortThe NYT writer said that couture exits “because it represents true luxury”.  That’s part of its charm and the “very reason for its existence” he says.

Maybe, if he is thinking of  haute couture from Paris, or luxe silk evening gowns in flowing fabrics and designs.  But a custom corset is not really high priced nor a luxury for anyone into serious waist training, or into moving downward to an ever-tighter restriction and long hours required for more advanced waist training.

A social media commentator blog recently solicited corset companies online who offer fully custom corsetry for under $400, and she came up with a nice list of multiple businesses, including ROMANTASY.  For quality, for durability, for many pounds of pressure to be put on fabric and stitching in tight-lacing, $400 is cheap for almost any budget and not a luxury at all, but a necessity in our opinion.

What the writer concluded was that couture thrives in part because it “represents the value of having the time to stop and smell the roses, or sew them onto a Chanel wedding gown, as 15 women did this past December. That took a month.”

And so does quality custom corset construction take a month or more — usually more, when it is made at least at ROMANTASY by one and not 15 people. That one corset maker is a superbly skilled craftsperson and artisan of corsetry who is juggling a micro business based at home to produce a non-fungible garment. It takes patience.

More’s the pity that so many still come to us wanting quick fixes for figures out of control (and how long did it take them to get out of control?), quick production times, desiring to “hurry up and start waist training tomorrow” —  and wanting me to tell them what to order.

We fervently hope that our massively-reorganized website in March just past, at romantasy.com,

(1) points visitors quickly and easily to what corset styles and fabrics are best for waist training,

(2) specifies how to evaluate design options and find the measurement form, and

(3) explains the differences between our corsetmaking team of three. Please visit us to see our changes.

But change at ROMANTASY still does not mean instant gratification of those who wish to waist train or do business with us and take advantage of our twenty-five years in the corset design, education and purveying business.

It does mean and still require time for them to stop and smell the custom corset roses, appreciate the luxury of being individually served in a very old-fashioned, personal manner, and enjoy the entire process of becoming a true corset enthusiast. As one person quoted in the NYT article said, those creating your garment “become emotionally invested” in what they do for you, and I might add, our corset makers take great pride in their craft and want to remain at the top of their skill level and profession.

The process itself and the time it takes might not be dazzling and it certainly is not fast — but you’ll be treated with respect at many micro-custom corset businesses today, and you  might even grow to adore how special you begin to feel, and what a treasure will result–one that will likely last you for years and years of pleasurable wear.

And at least, our corset makers won’t be contributing to dementia!

 

 

 

 

 

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What does “permanent” mean when it comes to waist training?

I just completed a 30-minute phone call with a friendly caller who had purchased and completely read my book, “Corset Magic: A Fun Guide to Trim Your Waist and Figure.” The purpose of the call was to get answers to her remaining two questions that apparently went unanswered in my detailed “how to” book:

“Yes, but… is the change permanent?” and, “How much will I lose in three months following your program?”

To verify that indeed, I had included the answers in my book but that this reader had missed them, I went back and re-read the first few pages of text containing a 2014 Update. Sure enough, there it was in black-and-white:

—“…success in waist training is also a matter of choice and not making excuses to avoid responsibility.” After that I discussed how a former student had visited me recently, but re-gained all the weight lost during waist training. She was using every excuse “in the book” to pig out on a daily basis, so no wonder she had regained everything, right?

—“… life-long habits (and excuses) take longer than three months to change. I used to think three months of corset waist-training was enough, but it’s clearly not. It’s enough to jump-start healthier new habits. It’s enough to show positive results 99.9% of the time, results that motivate and encourage us.  But motivate us to do what? Fall right back into what we were doing before, that got us here to begin with? Without one doubt, some positive changes we make during training will stick around, but some form of waistline-maintenance and periodic checks and measures must be implemented during training and must continue a lifetime afterward, if we want a lifetime of positive results.

—“If we don’t get a handle on what it was both practically in the real world, and emotionally or spiritually in our individual psychological world, that got us to where we aren’t happy with our weight or shape and want to change, then the benefits of waist training won’t last. We have to embark on waist training with corsets along with more self-introspection and self-honesty to identify behaviors that have defeated our goals in the past and threaten our progress today.”

What I had amazingly omitted to hit on the head right up front, was a point I made to my caller:

Everyone’s results are individual and unique: there is no way to predict with certainty what will happen after dedicated corset waist training!

I re-read my introduction, and noted that I did discuss my early-2014 failed experiment with Dr. Oz’s “14 day Diet” :

—“… my primary medical consultant “Dr. X” reminded me that any “general” advice is just that: general and not specific to me as an individual. As an individual, clearly I need some wheat and I need some fiber, in fact, a lot of fiber. You will have to figure that matter out for yourself.”

Although I stressed there, that results are individual, I had not hit the nail directly on the head! So now  I’ll amend that early statement to add that results of waist training are also highly individual, and depend upon multiple factors. I’m certain I made that point later in my book, multiple times, but it had been overlooked by my caller.

I often muse in my blogs about our psychology as human beings, and why we tend to do this or that, or “hear” this or that.  My caller caused me to muse about why it is so bloody difficult for people to understand that corset waist-training results can be PERMANENT (and are not predictable with certainty). To me, the clear meaning of “permanent” is  that you will or may lose actual, real pounds, and actual real inches off your waistline.

But many keep asking me that same question over and over. My client said that I “Just didn’t understand her question,” but I understood it very well.

Something else was going on beneath her repetitive questioning, but what? She was a highly educated women, having earned a master’s degree in history followed by a law degree. She was articulate, and enthusiastic about corseting and trimming her figure. She trusted my experience. She listened to my answers. Yet she expected certainty in my predictions for her, and still could not believe that the inch loss would or could remain after she removed her corset, so long as she did not start to pig out again on Krispy Kremes!

Could it be that body-dysmorphia was at work, putting up a barrier to her fully hearing and fully understanding  or accepting my words?

Could it be that she expected the waist-training process to be a scientific one, rather than what it actually is:

–a bit of art, a bit of luck, a good bit of genetics, a bit of psychology and motivation, a bit of discipline, a bit of luck, and a bit of science all rolled into one ball of corset wax?

I hope she truly groked what I answered today.

As a post note, I am more concerned about another matter than I am about her doubts regarding the permanency of waist training results.

The client told me she wishes to waist train  because she had met a man who interested her romantically, he had once felt a waist nipper under her clothing, and objected.  My inclination was to advise her to leave this potential partner in the dust, but in a fit of diplomacy I refrained from expressing my opinion.

What I’ve learned from coaching about 25 clients in waist training, is that motivation works best for us when it comes from the inside out, not the reverse. Waist training to please a man is the wrong-way up based on my experience. No matter, I’ll wish her the best of luck, and be here to answer her further questions and encourage her along the way.

 

 

 

 

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