Corsets, Posture and Confidence (it’s not all about size)

In the past, I’ve discussed at length the effects that the corset can have physically on the body, but up until now haven’t discussed how it can affect your mental and emotional state. In this article, I will discuss how corsets can directly affect your confidence and your interactions with others. You may also view my video version of this article, if you prefer not to read:


Let me preface this by saying that a corset can affect one’s positive self-image, without feeding into society’s warped views on weight and its relation to social hierarchy. So many people chide corseters, presuming that our own confidence stems directly from changing or lying about our figures. This couldn’t be a more misinformed frame of mind.

 I will start with my own personal experience in this sense, and go on to discuss the science behind this.

My own experience…

When I was in undergrad, I developed horrible posture while studying and working over a lab bench. This crept its way into my social time as well, and I had an almost chronic case of hunched, rounded shoulders not only due to force of habit, but also because my confidence level plummeted for various reasons during these years.

When I started wearing corsets on a regular basis, it was extremely uncomfortable at first – not in a physical way whatsoever; but because I was forced to stand tall and pull my shoulders back. I felt rather “exposed” and vulnerable in this position, the same way one might feel when forced to hold another person’s gaze. I couldn’t shrink myself or slink away quietly if I tried. Others eventually started to notice my posture as well, even when I was hiding my corset under my clothes – entering a room felt like a screaming announcement at times, the way people’s heads turned. Some colleagues began to think I was a snob, while others actually started talking to me. (Interesting how this can polarize different people’s views.)

After several months, I started to become accustomed to this reaction. Other students were treating me with respect; giving tutorials and presentations in front of crowds became almost effortless when it had been anxiety-inducing before, and I found myself holding my head high and my shoulders back whether I was in the corset or not. Could this be accredited to the corset, or something else? Whatever had caused this change in my own behaviour and in the behaviour of others towards me, it had eventually become ingrained.

This is not a unique experience.

Sarah Chrisman, author of “Waisted Curves: My Transformation Into a Victorian Lady” had also noted that people began treating her as an Alpha Female when she started carrying herself as one. This is a fascinating tested and proven phenomenon in which your own body’s movements and positions can literally affect your own psychology, and also the perception and behaviour of others.

Ann Cuddy explains more about this in her remarkable TED talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are” which I strongly recommend you can watch here when you have the time:

To summarize this video, even maintaining a “power posture” for two minutes has shown immediate and measurable change in hormone levels, including the reduction of the chronic-stress hormone cortisol, and increase in testosterone which is linked to boldness. Additionally, when this individual performed a two-minute power pose alone in a different room, and then interacted with other people afterwards, this individual consistently scored higher on others’ perception of his/her confidence (and even competence) levels, compared to other individuals who practiced a self-deprecating pose for a few minutes prior to interaction.

If such a vast change in hormone level, perception and behaviour of an individual can occur after a single two-minute session of confident posing, imagine the potential of a corset – what a consistent, daily reminder of confident posture might do for an individual over the long term.

Is there a downside to this?

As I had said before, when I initially experienced this change in my own posture, I was psychologically uncomfortable. Other girls my age had mistakenly perceived my stance as threatening; would my body language actually negatively affect my reputation on a whole in the workplace? As it turns out, not really.

Change in posture or body language is not about deliberately intimidating others, or creating a power struggle between you and your neighbours. This also isn’t about forcing you to become more extroverted or somehow less introspective, or forcing you to become a social butterfly if that isn’t something you crave. As Cuddy had said, this change in posture is more about you communicating with yourself to change your hormone levels in your body (including your brain), to reduce stress,  increase your confidence and maybe even your self-worth, so that you may be better able to let your own personality shine through and put your best foot forward instead of (as Chrisman had to eloquently described in her book) apologizing for the space you occupy.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” ~ Marianne Williamson

All this can occur without changing your waist size at all.

Remember that when I began my corseting journey, relatively few people knew about it. I hid my corset under sweaters, loose tunics and lab coats. The change in how others treated me was a result of my posture and carriage, not of my apparent waist. Tight lacing or waist training are not a mandatory part of wearing a corset – you can wear a corset at zero reduction, only using your corset as light support and a reminder to maintain good posture, keep your core engaged, and stand as tall as you’re able. In this situation, the confidence you experience from a corset is not necessarily directly associated with the change in your figure (although positive body-image does also help confidence – this is another topic for the future). And over time, the confidence that you feel when you carry yourself well can seep its way into other areas, whether you’re in or out of the corset.

As I’ve said so many times before, a corset is not necessarily a cure-all. It may not necessarily change your whole self-image or confidence level, but it can be the catalyst in this change. Don’t see the corset as a crutch to depend on to change your life, but imagine it as the weight you lift to help you develop that confidence muscle.

Has wearing a corset affected your confidence in any way, or somehow motivated a change in how others perceive and interact with you? Let me know in the comments below!

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27 comments on “Corsets, Posture and Confidence (it’s not all about size)

  1. Janine Johnstone on said:

    Would you sell a corset which would correct my posture? – I have developed back pain and I’d like something comfy and preferably one I can put on myself.

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hi Janine, the corsets I sell aren’t marketed as medical devices (I have to be careful about the wording) – if you wanted a true therapeutic corset, I can recommend you to a few corset makers for a custom fit corset, but their prices start at $400+. However if you’re curious as to how an OTR corset feels and whether it would help with your pain, you are welcome to purchase a corset and if you don’t like it, you can absolutely return it for refund, no questions asked.

  2. Do some research about a young lady named Temple Grandin and her discovery on compression therapy to ease anxiety and stress . I mean sure, she was talking about cows but after many studies it turns out that compression works equally as well in people too! 🙂

  3. Pingback:The Four Corset & Waist Training Blogs You Should Be Following | Get Waist-ed

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  5. Jen Thompson on said:

    I just ordered my first corset (albeit a fashion one, not waist training) purely for asthetics. Now that I know it can offer better posture I’m even more excited! I’m fit and have an hourglass shape already, but I have horrific posture, which tends to mask my shape. Could be confidence related: posturing myself in a way that makes me look less feminine. I hated attention from boys from grade 5 – 8. (I was shy). During high school I was with my now husband, but the habit of bad posture was already formed. I feel more feminine than ever, and hopefully my corset can train me to always have good posture and not be afraid to show my figure. 🙂

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Congratulations on your first corset purchase, Jen! I hope it helps with your posture – you deserve to hold your shoulders back and your head high, show the world that you are as confident on the outside as you are on the inside!

  6. This is a very interesting video. Thank you. When I was getting my masters in counseling I had a professor who was very much into somatic therapy. Heller work, in specific. He is a psychiatrist who heads a county mental health center, so it was particularly interesting to have someone with such a practical background be so enthusiastic on the subject. One of the most memorable exercises he did with students was to have us assume different body positions associated with various personality disorders. We would tighten this muscle and relax another muscle and shift this or that to assume the body position of a person with Borderline Personality, with Obsessive Compulsive Personality DIsorder, With Schizoid Personality and also Dissociative and Psychotic styles (which are not personality disorders but do require a different mindset ) We would not only assume the body positions but we were then requested to interact with peers about lunch or some other basic conversation topic. It was amazing how the positions made it impossible to think in the same way we would normally think if we held our accustomed positions. And then with a different position came another complete shift in thought. I was a sceptic starting out, but was totally converted by the end.

    And your post made me remember that I’ve been wanting a corset with removable shoulder straps since I still manage round my shoulders even while laced in a corset.


    • Wow, that’s so fascinating! I should read up more on this. Perhaps not totally related, but in music class a friend and I both started rocking our upper bodies back and forth, and subconsciously got a few other students around us to do the same thing. XD
      I think Electra Designs and Contour Corsets both make corsets with straps for shoulder posture correction, which criss-cross in the back. I personally wouldn’t go for halters even if they’re cheaper/more common, as if the strap is tied too tightly/ too short, it might encourage forward-head posture.

  7. Vanessa on said:

    Just writing out loud….but I bet that because of good posture, you can breath better; and breathing better may give you more confidence as well. Slumping over makes it hard to breath correctly. When I played a wind instrument, I couldn’t play unless I had good posture. People have always told me “to breath.” when I was freaking out or about to do something that I didn’t want to do (speeches.) Maybe getting a good supply of oxygen to our system helps us think clearer and in turn gives us more confidence as well. I haven’t started waist training yet but my goal is to buy a corset by the end of the year. I always buy myself a nice birthday gift. Christmas babies always get duped out of birthday presents. I’m excited to get more confidence!

  8. Juanita on said:

    What a beautiful post (: but I must say that my experience wearing corsets isn’t completely positive. I really do enjoy sitting like a lady (even though I hate the fact that, as you said, I can’t crouch and hide myself from others), but because I have really big breasts I get REALLY self-conscious. If it were to me, I would invent a corset to keep me in position, do waist training but (somehow) flatten my boobs (or at least a corset that wouldn’t “highlight” them as much).
    I’m aware that it has much to do with society, that maybe in a different country or enviroment I wouldn’t get as much stares and disgusting looks, but still it bothers me and causes a sort of conflict.
    Anyway, that’s me (and that surely isn’t going to stop me from wearing corsets!)

  9. Pingback:How Corsets Heal: 20 Benefits « Lucy's Corsetry

  10. Thank you thank you! Absolutely fabulous editorial, Lucy. I adore how you explore the positive influence of corsets on everyday life, and offer new avenues for people to appreciate and normalize corsets. Corset wearing a few hours a week has not only improved my sitting posture, it’s helped me fall asleep a lot faster at bedtime.

    The Ted talk and your personal experiences were so enlightening. I stand tall from years of martial arts and bellydance, I use big gestures frequently out of enthusiasm and happiness. I tend to sprawl and stretch when I’m bored and need to stay focused (like at work meetings). Things that utterly baffled me but now have a possible explanation: I often end up the de facto leader (without ever trying). I’ve been perceived as threatening to middle management types and caught the attention of big bosses before I even open my mouth. I’ve been called a snob or aloof on occasion (I most definitely am not).

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Janina! Isn’t is fascinating how other people judge and treat a person just by the way they stand and move, as opposed to their height, their personalities etc?
      Back in highschool, in my after-school job there was a middle-aged woman who couldn’t be more than 5 feet tall. But her posture was so amazing that EVERYONE “looked up” to her for advice, and I was baffled to find that she had a terrible sense of stage fright, because I had always associated her with being a good leader/authority, and naturally thought that being a good speaker or performer would go with that! Funny how these presumptions are so ingrained in our society. Good posture and making yourself “large” in movement can certainly get you far!

  11. I am new to corseting and generally wear mine around the house and under clothing. I would like to venture outside of my home and wear it outside of clothing, but don’t know how to go about doing so. What kind of blouses should I wear and do I wear it inside my shorts/pants?

  12. Hi! Im a girl from sweden. with the biggest probem.
    Im about to loose the only thing I care about.. my modelling career.
    Becuse I have big hips, and then I meen biiig hipbones, Im thin and slender but my hipbones are very wide.
    Is there any corset I can wear so I will get a cleaner line or how I should put it.
    Or surgery that you know of.
    Becuse right now I look like a box, a square literally.
    Thank you so much for an anwser. take care! MVH Edlina

    • Hi Edlina, unfortunately I’m not sure if a corset would be able to help your problem, as corsets can create an even larger contrast between waist and hips (making your hips look even bigger in the end). I haven’t heard of any surgery that modifies this either. But you can use your unique attributes to make you better known in the modelling field – it may help your career instead of hurt it. Look for photos of Hex Hypoxia, who is a successful model with naturally wide hips.

  13. I must say that i’ve not been wearing corsets for long (I started when I finished making one) and i’m still going slowly with it (wearing around 1, 2h a day) but I can feel already better when I wear it.
    First, I have a tendency to curve my back when I sit, I don’t sit straight (it’s horrible for my back I know but I got so used to it that I can’t seem to lose that bad habbit), when I wear one of my corsets, not only it helps me to keep my back straight but I also feel better. I have less back pains in the end of the day. Also as for the confidence point of view, I have a real problem with how I see myself. I am the thin girl of the family, yet i’m still overweight when you look outside my family. I had several problems at school of people making fun of me and my confidence dropped to its lowest point. When I wear my corset, not only I feel good in it but I feel pretty in it. It doesn’t change the fact that for others i’m still “fat” but if that can help me see myself as pretty, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, it’s already a good thing.
    I just hope that i’ll slowly be able to wear it with total confidence and go out with it on top of my clothes 🙂

    • Ah, I had the opposite problem to you at one point! My siblings are all naturally slim, no matter how badly they eat at times, and I have been seen as slightly overweight in my family’s eyes. But this was a time when all my friends were bigger or heavier than me, and if I mentioned wanting to start a fitness regime to my friends, they would lash out at me as if I had insulted them! They hated my corsets too, actually. It was a toxic relationship and eventually resulted in my getting a whole different group of friends. I know that I’m healthy, just as you know that you’re healthy, and if you can do one thing that can make you feel more love towards yourself (as long as it’s done safely and responsibly) then I consider that something worth keeping. 🙂

      • I totally agree with that. I just hate how people think that because I look that way, I eat junk food all the time. Actually, I eat quite healthy, I’m seeing a dietician who gave me good advice to eat the right proportions at the right time but even if i lose some fat “weight” i still gain weight because I actually have an hormonal problem that makes me gain weight and to actually help with that problem, I should lose weight… quite ironical…
        With corsets, I was actually able to tell myself “hey, look you have a waist no matter what you think, it’s here” and I just love the fact that it helps myself to like what I see in the mirror ^^

  14. Hmm, funny. I’ve been “seasoning” my first corset, which isn’t great quality and I don’t know how it will hold up when I try to lace it tightly, and was starting to wonder about my mood. Could it really be connected that just wearing this an hour or two a day has so drastically helped my mood? It is only laced loosely, but it does improve my posture very much. No other changes have happened recently….so I started to wonder. Then this is your topic! I have felt so much less stressed the last several days. Drastically so. Now I don’t feel crazy for thinking its because of the corset! Lower cortisol would definitely explain it. Thanks Lucy!

    • Hooray! Some things are meant to happen, like your experiences coinciding with this article. Or me and corsets coming together in general. 😉 I’m glad that it’s helped you manage your stress better! I’ve also experienced a rise in energy level when I maintain good posture, so my days are slightly more productive. 🙂
      Oh, and I will be answering your consultation today! 🙂

  15. This is a really interesting post. I haven’t yet tried a corset, although I really want to, and I’d definitely like to see how these ideas about posture & power might play into it. I also like that you pointed out that waist reduction is not the only point and that it’s not even necessary– sometimes I feel like there is too much emphasis on a corset acting as instrument to ‘perfect’ oneself.

    • Oh, absolutely. My very first purchased corset (which ended up being plastic boned) was a size 26″. My natural waist size at the time was also 26″. It gave a teeny bit of support but really just served as a reminder to maintain good posture – but even this became slightly addictive, even though at the time I couldn’t explain why it made me feel so happy whenever I wore it. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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