Category Archives: General Waist Training Information

Addressing Corseting Back Aches, Possible Causes, and Relation if any, to the Kidneys

The Ache and The Concern About Kidneys Graphic for research project on aches (c) ROMANTASY 2015

Those who wear corsets and who may waist train continuously or from time to time, have occasionally reported specific aches located near or at the waistline in back, more to the sides of their torso. The area I am discussing is pictured  left in four white squares.

Incidentally, if you might like to be involved in a research project regarding aches in these locations, please let me know via email to: inquiry@romantasy.com, and I’ll send you a followup questionnaire for more details about your experience.

Only a handful of our corset clients over 25-plus years have infrequently called those kinds of aches to my attention. However, I have personally noted them from rare time to rare time (details below), one of my team members has noted them once or twice after long hours (about 10) of wearing a corset she made, and my present waist-training coaching program client just noted them. That client has recently reached a 3.5″ reduction from her natural waistline of 34″, and is corseting from 10 to 12 hours daily  with a wasp-silhouetted Edwardian corset. She is pictured here at the beginning of her program  with 3″ reduction in her pretty corset. Before these many hours of continuous corseting, she had not encountered the issue.April training student 2015

Early in the 2000s I had investigated the matter of the kidneys and what happens to them in corseting and training.  I looked at graphics of the anatomy of the body and kidneys and asked questions of a few doctor consultants (some corseted and some did not) when I was first writing this book from 1999 to 2003. I decided not to comment in detail in my book at the time because my consultants were of the opinion that the kidneys are located so far inside the trunk of the torso, and are protected at the back by the spine, that it was highly unlikely they would be affected by moderate corseting practices.

I decided to investigate this matter again in some length because concern about this ache and its possible relation to the kidneys seems to recently appear and re-appear in social media comments. In sum, my recent research  supported my original view. As an educated layperson but without medical training to be sure, I still don’t believe there is any relation between the kidneys and sideback waistline, or other, aches while corseting.

I have, however, now become concerned  that vague or ambiguous comments repeated in social media relating kidneys to corseting may contribute unnecessarily and unfairly to prejudices and stereotypes  against well-made custom corsets and against reasonable waist training pursuits.

For those interested, the facts and reasoning to my conclusion are set forth below in detail and I welcome your comments and input to further my research and learning.

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What motivated my recent research was a brief online comment in April, 2015 by an experienced corset maker, that almost certainly the kidneys are asking for relief if you develop an ache at the lower back on the sides when you are corseting. Many followers of her commentary thanked her for this notice.

I asked about the source of her information to learn more. If I understood correctly from what she replied, the basis for her concern was a doctor’s unspecified advisory about corseting and the kidneys some years ago given to her former partner, and her former partner’s present concerns from her recent practice as a chiropractor. She was  concerned because she said the kidneys were somewhat out of the protection of the rest of the abdomen being retroperitoneal, and mentioned the kidney punch (more below on that matter).  The corset maker was also concerned about possible extreme corseting in the BDSM community.  She remembered some long-ago concern about the kidneys expressed to her from a corset “trainer.”  No further details were provided.

I then found another website mentioning “the kidney feeling” related to sweats and a slightly nauseated feeling when corseting, but when I contacted that writer in my research efforts, she said her information came from the first commentator corset maker and I should contact her, which I had already done. It reminded me of the importance of asking for the factual basis of anyone’s brief opinion which may not be well founded but nonetheless can be rather quickly expressed, easily repeated,  and widely spread on the internet today.

My Personal Experience

I’ve personally noted just that particular location and ache when wearing a corset, but only in two circumstances: first, when wearing an ice-cream cone silhouetted corset, and second, when wearing it for over an hour or more. Sometimes when this ache comes on, it can become quite noticeable and unpleasant. However, I do not get that ache every time I wear this silhouetted corset, and the ache always subsides within a few minutes, perhaps half an hour at the very most, after removing the corset. It has not caused me to stop wearing this corset and I’ve never had any kidney problems diagnosed or noted.

Basic Anatomy

Cross section of torso Gray's           I re-confirmed the location of the kidneys in my trusty Gray’s Anatomy (15th English Ed.) Page numbers below refer to this book. The graphic here is a transverse section  across the body of peritoneum showing the kidneys, found on page 901 of Gray’s, and the vertical orientation of the kidneys below is found on page 924.

Of course the descriptions in this medical tome are far more detailed than any general discussion here can entail, thus I recommend this seminal and famous text to any layperson with a dedicated curiosity about anatomy.

I also recommend highly an even better anatomy text with astoundingly detailed colored illustrations by Dr. Frank H. Netter called “Atlas of Human Anatomy.” I have the 6th edition.

In general I learned that the kidneys are situated in the back part of the abdomen, one on either side of the vertebral column behind the peritoneum and surrounded and “mainly held in position” by a “large quantity of loose fatty tissue, hence rupture of this organ is not nearly so serious an accident as rupture of the liver or spleen… occasionally the kidney may be bruised by blows in the loin or by being compressed between the lower ribs and the ilium when the body is violently  bent forward. This is followed by a little transient hematuria which, however, speedily passes off.” (page 994).Graphic kidneys and spine Grays p 924 In these graphics you can see how the spine is closer to the outside of the skin in back with kidneys tucked farther inside the body. It makes sense that the spine serves to protect in part against direct blows to the kidney.

“Kidneys cannot be felt (Ed. note: I assume Gray means by the doctor examining a patient) unless enlarged or misplaced.” (Page 993) The right kidney is slightly lower than the left. Each kidney is four inches in length and two to two and a half in breadth with one inch of thickness. The left is somewhat longer though narrower than the right. The kidneys are considered “fixed” but can be floating as a congenital condition.

This confirms information I was first given back in 2003 by my medical consultants at the time.

The front surface is partially covered by the peritoneum and partly uncovered. The posterior surface is not covered by the peritoneum but is embedded in aerolar and fatty tissue and rests on the eleventh (right kidney) or eleventh and twelfth ribs (left kidney). The main structures passing in and out of the kidney include the vein, the artery in the middle and the duct or ureter behind and toward the lower part.“The kidney is dense in texture, but is easily lacerable by mechanical force.” (See page 986)

To complete here our brief review of what’s involved, Gray says the abdomen is the largest cavity of the body bounded in large part by muscles and fasciae. It contains the kidneys among other organs and those organs are covered by an extensive membrane, the peritoneum. (Page 895). Dr. Netter’s book at Plates 309 and 315 shows that behind the kidneys toward the skin’s surface  in a person who is standing and toward the back are the Psoas and the Quadratus Laborum muscles. In addition part of the obliques and the transverse abdominus muscles end close to the same vertical height as and behind the kidneys also toward the back of the torso. The peritoneum is the largest serous membrane in the body. In the male it is a closed sac and in the female the fallopian tubes open directly into the peritoneal cavity. The viscera inside (the peritoneum) can glide freely against he wall of the abdominal cavity or upon one another with the least possible amount of friction because of serious fluid. (Page 898).

Comments from Physicians

One of my clients and gracious periodic advisers on medical and anatomical matters is a physician who has worn corsets since 1963, Dr. Milt Simmons. Dr. Simmons practiced medicine for 43 years and is Board Certified in Family Practice. He also was on the faculty at Wayne State University School of Medicine in the Department of Family Practice for 27 years. He served as Preceptor and Clinical Assistant Professor until retiring in 2005.

Dr. Simmons also wears back braces, including medical corsets as well as modern-day custom corsets. In mid-April of 2015 he told me that he once wore an orthopedic corset 24 hours a day for six days straight before he started to get relief from back pain. He also wore another one called a “Bob’s special” which was all plastic and 1/8- inch thick. “There is no movement with this one as four heavy straps keeps one well encased from below the breasts to the groin.” For the past ten years or so Dr. Simmons has worn custom corsets formerly by Amy of Wasp Creations, and more recently by ROMANTASY’s Sharon. He wears them approximately four days a week for up to 14 hours each day.

He reports that his corsets  “are a welcome relief compared to those prior types, but one gets used to them to get pain relief.” Sharon’s custom corset designed and produced to specifications from Dr. Simmons is called the “Golf Corset.” It enables him to play golf without injuring his back or causing pain. We tell more of his story on our website’s FAQ page under the question about health and corseting, if you are interested.

In telephone conversations in late April, Dr. Simmons confirmed my understanding that the kidney is not a floating organ in the abdomen. “It is in it’s own retroperitoneal space separated from the larger peritoneum which contains the major organs of the body such as liver, spleen, pancreas, stomach, intestines and in the female, the reproductive organs. “Both kidneys have non-connecting spaces with adrenal glands attached to the upper pole of the kidney. There is a thick membrane called Gerod’s fashia protecting both kidneys. The ureters coming off the kidneys and renal arteries coming off the aorta and the veins going to the inferior Vena Cava, are all well protected in the retroperitoneal area. “Basically there are three peritoneums, with the lesser peritoneum coming off the main peritoneum then ducking behind the stomach toward the pancreas. It would take a lot of constant pressure to get to the kidney.”

          Dr. Simmons was then courteous enough on April 23 to consult a nephrologist colleague with a specialty in kidneys. He presented the question about corsetry and the kidney. The answer was “that the kidney is generally so well protected by bone, location, geriod fachia, fat, and its retroperitoneum coverage that the corset does not become a problem here.” (Emphasis added)

I then located a detailed but undated paper by a resident physician at Doctors Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, entitled “Boxing and Kidney Damage.” For anyone concerned about this matter it is worth a read at: http://www.sportsci.org/encyc/drafts/Boxing_kidney_damage.doc The latest source for the paper was from 1993 so this might be an older document to be sure. This physician confirmed the above-stated information that: “The kidneys are well protected by virtue of their retroperitoneal location.” The physician also confirmed that: “The kidneys are located in a paravertebral gutter on either side of the vertebral column through the lower thoracic and upper lumbar levels. Each kidney is suspended in a shock absorbing fat and fibrous connective tissue capsure. Anteriorly, the kidneys are protected by the abdominal viscera and the internal and external obliquus muscles and the transversus abdominis muscles. Posteriorly, the kidneys are protected by the lower ribs and the vertebral column and by the quadratus lumborum, the sacrospinalis and the latissimus dorsi muscles. Laterally, the rib cage surrounds the upper third of the right kidney and the upper half of the left kidney. The kidneys are not rigidly fixed. They are held in position by the renal fascia and the large renal arteries and veins. Their attachment affords the kidneys an ability to move.”

A corseting physician with a specialty in the heart and coronary health, one who has ordered and worn about six corsets from ROMANTASY over the past 15 years, also confirmed that “the kidneys are so deep within the abdominal cavity that they are protected from the squeezing.”

Other Information

As with most any question on the impact of corseting on the body, there is little to no research and not many comments about actual or possible kidney damage caused by or contributed to by corseting.

And once more I make my point: just because something moves inside us does not necessarily and automatically equate with damage (think pregnancy)–so let’s stop thinking in that nonsensical way.

Likely the best modern pronouncement on the topic of organ movement was called to my attention by Lucy Williams, our Canadian corset educator colleague. It is the video presentation from an October 2014 Quiz How of the MRI of a corset wearer, the burlesque dancer Eden Berlin. German medical doctor and TV sensation Dr. Eckhart von Hirschhausen studied how a well-shaped and apparently custom  corset moves organs in a tightlacer on his October 2nd episode of his gameshow, Hirschhausens Quiz Des Menschen (“Hirschhausen’s Quiz of the Human [body]”). Of course the corset was not boned with metal as that would have been quite dangerous (the magnet might have torn the metal thru the soft body tissue!). You should certainly visit Lucy’s article on the program (she had it translated from German) here: http://lucycorsetry.com/2014/10/08/corset-organs-mri/

As the principle result of his MRI Dr. Ekhart concluded that the intestine is “trapped and digestion slowed”. Lucy also notes from her review of the video that “While it might not have been explicitly mentioned, from the image we also now have confirmation that the liver and stomach move upwards (and the liver remains pretty much in the same shape) and they are not forced down below the waist like some horrendous illustrations once claimed.”

          Dr. X is a retired coroner with over 30 years of medical practice in a major urban area and a present day forensic expert in crush injuries. He has been a ROMANTASY resource on the anatomy and various medical issues since publication of this book. He reminded me that MRI’s likely do not produce a 100 percent correct orientation of the organ position when corseted, because they are taken lying down and we tend to wear corsets while standing. Organs may therefore show on an MRI as in a slightly higher position in the body.

From my own experience wearing corsets I’ve noted some rib as well as organ movement, some differences in my body’s functions, and variations in comfort level when I wear different styles or different silhouettes of corsets. I was initially curious as to why the underbust Victorian style and often the hourglass- silhouetted corset always seemed best for training purposes. I discuss these differences in some detail in my book, but let’s return to the kidney.

The German MRI showed that the kidneys weren’t much affected either in position or in function, but how the doctor could determine anything about function relying on only one MRI without a longitudinal study is not clear to me!

On February 12, 2015 Dr. Oz hosted a television show on “Waist Training – Is it Safe?” He had an MRI done of a “corseted” guest, however the guest was not wearing a custom steel-boned corset, but merely a latex, stretchy and wrinkled cincher of an undetermined kind and brand. What he found was that his guest’s waistline was reduced by two inches, and the kidneys, liver, diaphragm and intestines were all “squeezed up.” He also noted a rippling effect in the sides of the liver which he attributed to the ribs pressing in on that maleable organ.

When Dr. Simmons reviewed the tv segment he noted that the “corset” was not a boned corset and that it appears that the guest’s waistline was indented or brought in about one or two inches more on one side than on the other, from a front view. The “corset” did not appear to have a graded or even pressure around the torso.

Dr. Simmons also noted that the ripple effect Dr. Oz noted on the MRI in the liver, was not that unusual or concerning, since the liver normally fits into the 9th and 10th ribs and evidences at least two indentations therefore, more or less the same thing that Dr. Oz noted.

As noted in Grays at page 933 the liver’s “consistence is that of a soft solid; it is, however friable and easily lacerated.” However, I did not see any measurement of how high the organs moved in Grays, and Dr. Oz did not describe any kind of damage just from the fact of kidney or organ movement, although he indicated some concern. He said he “has an issue” with what he found from the MRI, but what issue is that? Perhaps he will explain in a further show on corsets.

You can read an excellent point-by-point response to Dr. Oz by Lucy Williams on her blog at: http://lucycorsetry.com/2015/02/26/dr-oz-investigates-waist-training-response/ The Kidney Shot–A Related Advisory for Corset Wearers? Graphic - Petit's Triangle

The corset maker who motivated my present research to be sure I had up-to-date medical information and thinking, mentioned the kidney shot issue. That is certainly worth a look.

Dr. Simmons had already advised me that “there is a possibility that small triangle which is formed by two muscles (the lattisimum dorsi and the internal oblique), and the bone structure of the superior iliac rim at its base, could be weakened and allow pressure placed in the area to be felt.”

The area is described by Gray as an interval is called Petit’s Triangle. You will see the area labeled on the graphic from page 338 of Gray’s. In boxing one refers to it as the “kidney punch area.” I’ve also seen it called “the kidney shot” area; see https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100626162316AAI3q72, http://www.ask.com/sports-active-lifestyle/kidney-punch-5ef3f532b50b289b I’ve both read that it is and is not illegal, and that it is illegal if it is “purposeful.”

Livestrong.com says that it is illegal, at: :http://www.livestrong.com/article/432817-are-kidney-punches-allowed-in-boxing/ “Kidney punches are illegal in boxing. A hard blow to a kidney can bruise or cut the organ, or even tear it loose from the blood vessels that supply it. Damage can range from mild pain to blood in the urine to anemia, kidney failure, shock and even death. That’s why the rules of boxing, which generally prohibit any punch to the back, pay special attention to the kidney area.” Ask.com says: “A punch to a kidney can severely bruise and cut the kidney. An especially strong kidney punch can cause a kidney to tear loose from blood vessels. Damage from a kidney punch ranges in severity from very mild pain to bloody urine, anemia, shock, kidney failure and, in the worst cases, death. A person punched in the kidney who experiences lasting pain or bloody urine should seek immediate medical attention.”

Remember that Dr. Gray noted that the kidney “is easily lacerable by mechanical force” and: “occasionally the kidney may be bruised by blows in the loin or by being compressed between the lower ribs and the ilium when the body is violently bent forward.” (emphasis added).”

As for other effects on the kidney in the case of boxers, the doctor mentioned above in his paper noted that “there is little information to support proposals that changes in the urine of boxers is related to direct trauma to the kidneys.” Other possibilities mentioned are the crouched position of the boxer, the “grunt reflex,” and trauma to the bladder. He said that many possibilities exist for changes in urine and kidney damage. For example, it can be related to sudden acceleration or deceleration injury and other. The doctor also concluded that there is little research on sports injuries and that more research is needed.

          Sound familiar?

The fact is, in boxing the punch would be sharp, quick, and hard. The punch could be fairly characterized as a “blow” and it’s not hard to imagine a boxer violently bending forward from such, or grunting. But let’s get a grip here. Did you hear me talking anywhere in this blog or my Corset Magic book about a punch or a focused violent blow to your kidney area, or anything other than very gradual, not-very-restrictive initial lacing on of a well-fitting, double steel-boned custom corset? I didn’t think so.

Yes, a corset is a type of “mechanical force” but it is most typically worn in safer circumstances in general than in a violent boxing match, not to mention that tightening is done gradually over months after your first build up your hours of comfy wear– three months in the case of our recommended waist training program.

As a final point, I also always recommend to my clients and to you when you wear a corset that you not bend precipitously or continuously forward, or backward for that matter, at the waistline. The backward bend could possibly press on Petit’s Triangle. The possible result of the back bend when corseted is described next. Waistline bend in corset

Let’s also remember that back and vertebral bracing have been used for hundreds of years by the medical profession. I surmise that if untoward risk of injury to the kidneys from same existed, the braces would have lots of warnings out there or be of limited use. I can’t find one such warning on a few websites I visited, but did see some terribly uncomfy looking medical braces such as pictured for Ultralign at: http://www.deroyal.com/medicalproducts/orthopedics/product.aspx?id=pc-bracing-ultralumbsacorth

Probable Sources of Sideback Waistline Body Aches

Dr. Simmons posits that the ache we are discussing might be due to the corset as it is laced down, encroaching on the spine. It might be due to the corset pinching a nerve. It also might be due to a flimsily-boned corset that allows fabric or bones to collapse inward and focus pressure on a small area of the torso.

In the picture above of the backwards-bending bride being kissed, you can clearly see the boning bending inward at the waistline, even in a double steel-boned custom corset that she was wearing. This kind of focused pressure can develop aches and pains that I like to call “hot spots” because at their worse to me, they render a burning or pricking sensation. Whether or not the corset or bent boning actually touches the small triangle area and presses on the kidneys is not clear, but based on my investigation so far,  that seems unlikely.

Assuming a proper corset properly worn, Dr. Simmons told me that it “provides gradient pressure that supports the area covered and the organs. It does not impinge on a focused or targeted area.” In other words, a corset will typically distribute and minimize pressure from restriction about the entire torso. To illustrate what he meant Dr. Simmons added that when the custom corset is properly laced and worn, one can imagine the pressure as millions of arrows from all points on the skin where the corset is touching, pointing inward, with millions of counter arrows on the inside pointing out. In other words, when corseting there is at one and the same time pressure inward and also an opposite pressure outward by the body’s internal contents. This counter pressure helps keep the spine straight and erect. It also tends to keep organs secure even if they can or do move around in the abdomen

Thus I believe that the corset is one of the better ways to protect the organs including the kidneys. The corset applies its pressure in a gradient manner of even pressure over a large area, and I think this impedes the destruction of a given specific area (of the torso).” (Emphasis added)

This is one reason that for the beginner with all things being equal, it is possible that the best corset silhouette with which to train will be the hourglass. That is because that silhouette in my experience and in that of many of my clients and informants, seems to puts even pressure around the entire torso, rather than focus pressure on one spot such as the wasp silhouette does. The wasp might be a better silhouette choice for the advanced trainee when the ribs and pelvic bone become less covered with fat thus less, protected from pressure calling for more focused pressure right at the waistline in order to make further progress in lacing down.

Dr. Simmons is not too concerned about this ache emanating from muscles, since the muscles can adapt pretty well to pressure.

Other physicians posit that indeed, the muscles might be involved. My corseting physician Dr. RB felt that I must have been experiencing “some muscle strain perhaps along the pelvic rim or perhaps the inguinal ligament (if pain is in the front groin). At the waistline, you might feel strain along the lower ribs. Again this (type and location of ache) sounds musculo-skeletal.”corset worn too high on waistline

Dr. X pointed out that body aches at the back side of the waistline might simply result from wearing a corset a bit too high on the body, with the narrowest waistline part of the corset pressing just above the waistline. You can see pictures of that unfortunate situation to the right and left. Note that often you can tell if a well-measured custom corset is worn too high on the torso (normally measured to come just to below the bra underwire), if the top binding tends to fold or bend over, as is possibly the case in the beige corset pictured below.

Waist worn too high        Dr. X mentioned another possible cause of the sideback waistline ache, that is, a slight mismatch between the vertical proportions of the body and those of the corset, such as longer corset worn on shorter trunk. ###

          To reiterate, in sum I don’t think there is any concern about kidneys being involved in back aches or that kidneys are in danger when pursuing gentle corseting with a well-fitting custom or readymade corset.

Let me know if you find out anything different. ###

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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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A detailed reply to Dr. Oz by Lucy

To followup our post on the Feb. 12 show by Dr. Oz concerning corset waist training, Lucy wrote a detailed and excellent  reply:  http://lucycorsetry.com/2015/02/26/dr-oz-investigates-waist-training-response/

She takes on points Oz’s resources made, one-by-one.

I was particularly impressed with her following point which for me, answered further “The Corset Question”:

“…there is not enough information out there on how corsets are supposed to properly fit and feel, so people grow up with the propaganda that all corsets are supposed to hurt or that shortness of breath is normal. It’s like if a certain culture had never heard of shoes, but their only exposure to footwear was Chinese foot-binding. Many would understandably turn away from ALL footwear and consider it barbaric (even when offered a comfy pair of orthotic running shoes), and some individuals who want to try footwear feel as though they’re supposed to jam their feet into shoes two sizes too small and just deal with the pain, blisters, hammertoe, etc. because that’s all they’ve been exposed to. There is a whole other world of well-made, functional and comfortable footwear out there, just as there’s a whole world of different shapes, sizes, and styles of corsets. You just need to find the right one and learn to use it responsibly.

Why do we avoid that “whole other world” of information? I have my theories.

We tend to rely on so-called ‘experts’ and be lazy enough to let others do our thinking and opining for us. It’s just easier.  We tend to jump in our minds to the extreme position, expecting and even reveling in calamity. I noted that in my former career owning an erotic couples retail boutique (also selling corsets; that’s how I first fell in love with them).  Customers would take one look at a ball gag, and see “suffocation,”  or glimpse metal handcuffs and see cut wrists. But in truth, there are many shades of grey, right? We don’t ever have to use any particular thing to the extreme. (And my point to them often was, eroticism lies more in the mind that in a product, and often the product is a visual trigger of greater erotic pleasure than is the actual thing in operation).

But is the unexamined life, or issue — worth living? For some when it comes to corsets, it is.

Lately I’ve prepared the three-month  corset wearing element of any sound waist-training program (we now include that with the purchase of our book), for several purchasers of my book, “Corset Magic”. Two of the three purchasers wanted to save money, and are training with a somewhat U-shaped readymade corset they purchased from a well-known corset business. I know because I ask them to send photos of the corset they will be using to train, and identify the maker.

I suspect that some or all of them will encounter some tough times especially toward the end of training,  making it more arduous and even painful perhaps. The typical readymade corset not patterned following the hills and valleys of your body, tends to create a U shaped silhouetted corset. It is  not sufficiently curved out over the lower ribs or high hip bone, and will tend to press down on the anterior femoral nerve and lead to discomfort, and eventually, to tingling or pain as the blood supply is reduced. Not good. Not pleasant.

We are keeping in touch with these clients to see how their efforts progress and I’ll report back later on this matter.

In the meantime, read Lucy’s amazing, lucid blog response. Like one reader of her blog, I would only encourage her to take any opportunity presented to her in the future to go on national television, to present the other side of the popular media’s take which inevitably tends to hyperbole.

As a media consultant once told me in preparing me to deal with media interviews, “The interviewer needs to ‘represent’ the general public and express the general public’s belief system and doubts. The interviewer might not necessarily believe what he or she is saying or questioning, so don’t take it personally.  Take it as an opportunity to get solid information out there about your topic. Acknowledge there are differences of opinion and experience, then speak up, speak out, say your truth and be fact-based. It is up to the viewer to determine which viewpoint is better based and valid.”

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DR. OZ MISSES THE CORSET BOAT ENTIRELY ON FEB. 12

CORSET ENTHUSIASTS MIGHT WISH TO REVIEW THE DISAPPOINTING FEB. 12 DR. OZ SHOW SEGMENT ON CORSET WAIST TRAINING, AND CONSIDER ANOPEN LETTER TO DR. OZ IN THE FOLLOWING VEIN WHICH ROMANTASY IS SENDING:

2/13/15

Dear Dr.Oz,

I am the owner of ROMANTASY Exquisite Corsetry in San Francisco, a retired State Deputy Attorney General, and the author of the only detailed  ‘how to’ manual on corset waist training called “Corset Magic: A Fun guide to Trim Your Waist and Figure.” A copy is included for your review, with respect to your show segment on Feb. 12 treating with this topic.

From watching the segment I believe you have been misinformed about injuries from, and inadequately advised about the many benefits of, corseting and waist training. Your expert Dr. Florence said that there is clinical evidence that serious injuries occurred, but she did not cite specific numbers and types of injury, other than mention a few conditions that obviously will occur when one wears a tight garment, namely blood pressure and temperature rise and some organs move.

However, movement or elevation in and of themselves do not constitute harm per se, whereas obesity per se, does constitute harm. To my mind, obesity seems the far more dangerous health matter that we must address by supporting and advocating any and all reasonable measures to motivate folks to control this disease and reverse the dangerous trend of expanding waistlines and concomitant life-shortening health problems.

I sincerely hope you will take your time to review my manual and the many happy personal histories reported therein. I also hope you will consider sponsoring another show that brings on experts who have long experience with the process, both from personal waist training efforts and personal knowledge of others’ efforts, as well as a grounding in medical fact and research. Such folks can offer the other side of the picture to the negative one your expert told but without much detail. I hope too, that you will bring on a physician who can speak to the more accurate view that corseting can be of enormous health benefit with certain provisos considering moderation and corset fit.

To that end perhaps you might wish to read the words of Milton Simmons, M.D., and others commenting on my website FAQ page on corseting and health matters:
http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=What+Health+Matters+Are+Related+to+Corseting%3F&Category_Code=cfaq

Additionally you might enjoy reading a happy corset wearer’s experience, ABC-TB reporter Deborah Roberts who conducted a short experiment with our ROMANTASY waist training coaching program, wearing one of our custom corsets made for her torso shape from eight different figure measurements, set forth in her blog of fall,2012: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/10/10/my-life-in-a-corset-squeezing-into-a-new-dieting-strategy/

Further, I have several students and colleague corset educators who might be interested in speaking of their experience, and I have appeared on many national television and radio shows commenting on the topic, which shows are summarized on this page: http://romantasyweb.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=R&Product_Code=About+our+Media+Coverage&Category_Code=ar

In sum, my 25-year dedicated personal experience wearing corsets and waist training, coaching about 25 students in our specific ROMANTASY three-month process, and listening to reports of many of the 8000 clients I have provided corsets to over my business history, plus research on body modifications that occur when lacing down, convinces me that the great weight of authority supports the fact that corsets are more than just safe. They are beneficial.

That is true if they are well fitting of a suitable style and are worn deliberately following a slow plan of lacing down, proper nutrition, and moderate exercise.

Corset waist training is beneficial in immediately cutting appetite back and like gastric banding reducing the output of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, with the result of disappearing hunger in a rather short time. Corset waist training shrinks our stomachs and cuts portion sizes that satisfy us, teaches us what foods are best to enhance digestion and elimination, improves our posture immediately and teaches us body memory and standing up with the spine properly positioned. Corsets enhance personal image, can provide psychological support and a sense of control during times of great stress, can provide low and high back support, help avoid injury in lifting, and can alleviate pain from scoliosis, pre-menstrual cramps, IBS, and other.

All of my coaching students are much like the three ladies on your show who expressed their joy at improved posture and support and some weight reduction while wearing their garments. It was therefore a true shame that they became concerned after hearing your overly-broad assertion that corseting could “Possibly put their health at risk.”

Actually, anything in life can put our health at risk.

Walking across the street can possibly put health at risk. Having a baby and moving organs around much the way corsets do moderately over time, can possibly put your health at risk – but usually doesn’t.

The point is, how do we educate ourselves and minimize the risk in choices we make for a greater good and enhanced pleasure in a long, healthy life?

Usually if we follow Aristotle’s mean, “everything in moderation,” corseting will provide a very happy, artistic, creative, fun way to get control of our figures, our nutrition, our bad habits, our slouch, and will improve our self image and overall sense of well being.

And what could be better than that? I hope to hear back and visit your show in the near future to share my 25 year experience.

Best regards,

Ann Grogan, President
415 587-3863
ROMANTASY Exquisite Corsetry
2912 Diamond St. Ste. 239
San Francisco, CA 94131

 

 

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