ANTIQUATED NOTIONS PERSIST TODAY ABOUT MODERN CORSETS and those of us who choose to wear them.
In late 2012 I was interviewed by ABC-TV reporter Deborah Roberts for a small “20/20” corset segment. The first words out of her mouth when I placed a custom-made, loosened corset around her back and pulled it forward to hook the busks, were: “I won’t get the vapors, will I?”
Of course she did not—and went on to write a favorable and amusing blog about her short 2-week experiment in waist training.
“Solaced: 101 uplifting narratives about corsets, well-being, and hope,” corsetiere and educator Lucy William has just released on Kindle her first of what we hope will be many books: an amazing collection of personal stories of corset enthusiasts who have experienced positive benefits. It’s available today on amazon: http://tinyurl.com/jcu9zne
I believe the new book will surely strike one significant—if not “the”—death blow to the age-old question about getting the vapors, known generally, as the “Corset Question”—
“Don’t corsets hurt?”
Anyone who bothers to scan the multitude of heart-warming and inspiring personal stories of corset wearers included in Lucy’s new book, will be convinced in general about the efficacy of corsets. They will be amazed, specifically, to read the stunning variety of ways corsets have benefited many:
–to treat severe pain, –to correct dramatic medical conditions such as severe scoliosis, –to cure medical conditions from mild IBS to severe dysmenoria, –to disappear disabling anxiety and depression, –to help the transgender person to more fully realize their dream of feminizing a male figure, or masculinizing female curves with a binder corset, and more!
Of course, I’m delighted with stories–but there are not enough of these–that discuss posture improvement, waistline reduction, and weight loss–a summary of three important beneficial results of corset waist training. I would have liked more factual details including statistics, and pictures. I missed seeing pictures of the changes.
Waist training, of course, is a technique that is realistic and safe for those having common sense, who move slowly and deliberately in getting used to, and lacing down, the corset, and who attend not only to medical advice, but to important messages from their own bodies and spirits–a technique that addresses what Professor David Kunzle calls the “scourge of modern society”: obesity.
IT’S A WELL-ORGANIZED BOOK AND AN EASY READ: Overall, Solaced is a well-organized book, with stories collected by about 20 subject matters. The book seems a heavily weighted toward corsets used to address medical conditions that might be obscure to many, such as hypermobilty and genetic conditions such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and fibromyalgia. Still, a reader can select the particular subject of most interest to them, and read that chapter. Anyone will find some story included with which they can relate, from the trans community, from the senior community, from a fashion perspective, or from a survivor or accident victim’s viewpoint. Surprises abound, such as stories by those wearing corsets who survived physical knife attacks and other muggings, because steel boning of their corsets deflected otherwise fatal blows.
I might have preferred more pictures, especially of the before and after corset waist training informants, as well as other informants, and also pictures of Lucy. Women tend to relate well to faces, and draw near to that person emotionally. I hope the Kindle version which I have not yet seen, will include those.
I WAS MOST DRAWN TO stories showing how wearing a corset can comfort in more subtle, spiritual ways. Corsets can deliver peace and great joy to those of us, especially women and transwomen or transmen, who have suffered body dysmorphia at one time or another or perhaps throughout our lives. As a result, some fall prey to life-threatening diseases such as anorexia nervosa or disabling anxiety and depression when we don’t meet social and sexist standards of how we “should” look and act, or when our gender and our bodies don’t match. Those standards and “the norm” damage our spirits just as much as car accidents or physical battery damages our bodies. Spiritual damage harms not only the individual, important enough to be sure, but it harms society in general because it diminishes our zest for life, our creativity, our participation in community, our contribution in the work place, and our compassion for others.
IF LUCY DOESN’T … If Lucy doesn’t, I’m going to gift a copy to Dr. Oz, the TV personality introduced some years ago by Oprah, and who zoomed to almost instant fame in the United States. Over the past year or so, he has railed against obesity, urged common sense, and introduced many low-cost, low-risk alternatives to prescription medicines and surgery. In a 2015 San Francisco Examiner column, he said that bariatric surgeries are the “last things” he would recommend to get control of extreme obesity. I used to admire him and see him as an enlightened doctor—but no more.
Today he seems to equate common-sense, non-surgical, fashionable, and fun corset waist training as one of those “last things” he would recommend to improve our health. He focused a TV show last week on “corset waist training disasters.” Among them was one young woman who had to take two full breathes to blow out her 20 birthday candles. What a “disaster,” right?
It could be considered benign laughable stuff, but I think it’s more than that. It’s clearly designed to stir up the passions of some of his TV show’s ill-informed, unthinking viewers who blindly trust him. It’s worse than perverse; it’s no less than nefarious, considering the huge platform Oz enjoys, and how he has marketed himself as the go-to alternate medical and health guru. It leads one to ask, why is he doing this?
He can’t be fearful of litigation (as my conciliatory attorney classmate posited recently) for supporting non-medical corsets, because surely his television sponsors and station have sufficient liability insurance to cover any jury verdict. Only one answer keeps coming to mind: ratings—and lining Oz’s pockets with even more money, if not more public attention to salve what seems to be his massive ego.
Yet modern-day corsets discussed by Solaced contributors, clearly provide a fashionable and comfortable alternative to uncomfortable medical braces that some used before they knew about corsets. Boned braces have been used by Oz’s doctor colleagues for centuries to control pain and provide relief for many conditions. Custom, fashionable corset wearing for health and figure-maintenance purposes has been going on safely and sanely for how many centuries? My first book on the process, Corset Magic, was released in 2003 — some 13 years ago!
A MASSIVELY DIFFICULT PROJECT, WELL DONE! Lucy is to be heartily congratulated for doing the massively difficult work of publishing her first book. I know because I am in the middle of a similar venture into publishing, a new, updated primer on how to waist train. While I will focus on lessons learned from personal histories of those who use corsets to maintain or improve their figure, waistline and even weight, Lucy’s book uses multiple first-person stories of a wider, richer variety. Those stories permanently align the writers, as well as Lucy, with the responsible corset enthusiast community who stresses common sense, fact-based advice.