Dependence on Corsets – Can you ever stop wearing a corset?


Ethel Granger without corset bare waist

There is this false theory that “once you start using corsets, you can never take them off”. I remember one girl telling me this when I was younger, painting an image in my head that the moment I put on a corset for the first time, I’d be doomed to wear it for the rest of my life, as if the corset would immediately and magically impair all function of my core muscles.
 
Obviously, this hasn’t been the case, and it’s my belief that permanent dependence on corsets is another one of those cases of “broken telephone” where the meaning has become misconstrued. While a few notable people have experienced a physical dependence on corsets, this has been the result of wearing corsets daily for years, in some cases starting from adolescence. When it comes to most modern corset wearers who begin wearing corsets in adulthood, who maintain a healthy core maintenance regimen and who practice lacing in moderation, physiological dependence on corsets isn’t that applicable.
 

Psychological Dependence on Corsets

 
As many of you know, about 3 months ago in November I suffered a number of injuries (falling down the stairs, and then an auto accident – during both incidents I was not wearing a corset). I took a break from wearing corsets for about 2 months, waiting for my bruises to heal and my bloating from the medication to decrease. During those two months, a thought crossed my mind that intrigued me: I missed that familiar “hug” from my corsets.
 
I followed a waist training regimen from 2010 to mid 2013 to achieve my goal of closing a 20″ corset – once I reached that goal, I decided that silhouette wasn’t for me. Since then I’ve simply been wearing corsets “casually”: wearing them occasionally as I feel like it, or as is necessary when I’m breaking in corsets for my reviews, but no longer 12 hours a day.
 
When my freedom of choice to wear a corset was taken away from me, I deeply resented the circumstances. I spent some time thinking about my own reactions and thoughts around this – was it a sign that I had a psychological or emotional dependence on the corset itself, or was it simply the fact that I was denied this practice that made it more tempting (like forbidden fruit)?
(If I’m completely honest with myself, part of the frustration was also that seasoning corsets is part of my job, and my injuries were pushing back my review schedule.)
 
I’ve written at length about using corsets as deep pressure therapy, and how corsets can improve your posture and even make you more confident, regardless of the figure-shaping perks. But I do believe that it’s important for each person to occasionally gauge themselves and make sure that they’re using corsets for the right reasons, and that they’re using the corset as an aide to improve their experience or quality of life, and not using the corset as crutch that they can’t function without.

 

I hear stories of agoraphobic people being able to step outside without having a panic attack when they wear their corset and that is truly amazing. But certain people can become psychologically “addicted” to corsets, same as some people are hooked on buying shoes/ following a TV series/ eating a certain food.

 

We see taglines in commercials “Betcha can’t eat just one” (Lay’s chips) or “Once you pop, you can’t stop” (Pringles) – but these statements are meant to be fun and make the product seem enticing. It doesn’t make people freak out or ponder the addictiveness of processed snacks. You don’t have visions of being caught in a horrible circular existence of eating bag after bag of potato chips till you explode. It’s supposed to be taken lightly – but corsets are almost never taken lightly in this context. Because the corset is not as ubiquitous as high heel shoes, for instance (another easily collectable garment) it’s easy to try to blame the corset for a person’s “addiction”, as opposed to acknowledging that person’s possible tendencies to collect things, or immerse themselves in fashion, or research controversial topics.

 

2014 was especially full of sensationalist headlines about tightlacers Penny Brown, Kelly Lee Dekay and Michèle Köbke. Narrators purposely chose adjectives for them like “obsessed” and “addicted” to corsets – when in reality, when you speak to these ladies themselves, they may prefer to use words like “dedicated” or “disciplined” to describe themselves. Even if someone is a lifestyle corseter, tightlacer or waist trainer, it doesn’t necessarily equate to that person going bananas after one day without their corset as a journalist may insinuate. Remember that more often than not, the media blows stories out of proportion as it’s easy clickbait.

 

Physiological Dependence on Corsets

 
It is, however, important to discuss the potential physical dependence on a corset, because it’s not impossible. If one constantly wears their corset and doesn’t make it a priority to tone their core with exercise, it is possible to experience muscle atrophy and experience a weak back or abdominal muscles. I’ve written at length about the corset’s effect on the core muscles before.

 

Ethel Granger without corset bare waist

Ethel Granger, who laced to just 13 inches in her corset over several decades, experienced weakness in her core but as shown here was still able stand without her corset.

Although core muscle weakness can lead to physical dependence on the corset, it’s my belief that in the vast majority of cases, this dependence is not permanent (as long as the affected person has the desire to do something about it). I have never found a medically documented case of someone taking off their corset and suddenly flopping over, snapping in half or breaking their spine from a lack of support.
Even Ethel Granger, who wore her corset for some 50 years and laced to 13 inches, was still able to support herself without the corset for short periods of time.
Cathie Jung, who currently laces to 15 inches, has also said that she removes the corset for bathing, although allegedly becomes a little lightheaded without the corset. News segments on Michèle Köbke have claimed that she was unable stand up without their corset, however there is evidence of Michèle standing up without a corset in the video footage, contradicting the information given. Michele explained that she did lose some strength in her torso and became winded when changing her corsets, but she could still stand up unassisted. Michèle has since stopped wearing corsets, and a newer video filmed nearly a year after the first shows that she has gained more strength in her torso and her waist measurement has now expanded to approximately 25 inches, similar to her starting waist measurement before corseting.
 

“You can’t stop wearing corsets…”

… otherwise you will lose your waist training progress and your waist may begin to expand again. This is a much more sensible interpretation of the statement.
  • If you get braces to change the position of your teeth: you can’t stop wearing your retainer, otherwise your teeth may shift slightly back to the way they were before.
  • If you build yourself up for a body building competition: after that competition is over you can’t stop lifting weights completely, otherwise your muscles will eventually shrink/ waste away, you’ll get soft, and you’ll lose your progress.
  • If you put yourself on a diet to lose weight: once you reach your goal, you can’t stop eating healthily and start eating all the junk food you want, otherwise you’ll gain weight again.
  • If you train your waist smaller with corsets: if you stop wearing your corset cold turkey once you reach your goal, your waist is likely to expand. Certainly, many waist trainers see a change in their natural, uncorseted waist over time; but a certain level of maintenance is required to keep any results you get.
 

Even if you train your ribcage to be more tapered, if you get pregnant, the baby can push out your ribcage again. This is why it’s said that corset training is “semi permanent” – but that is the topic of another article.

Read more about dependence on corsets on Contour Corsets, and also Staylace.

What do you think about corset dependency? Have you experienced a psychological, emotional or physical dependence on your own corset, to positive or negative results? Leave a comment.

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14 comments on “Dependence on Corsets – Can you ever stop wearing a corset?

  1. Hello Lucy! I love reading your articles, so many subjects, information, thank you a lot for all of them! 😀
    But im yet to see a article about tightlacers that want to have surgeries, me for example, i want that “ig model body” i have been tightlacing since october 2014 when i was 18 years old, im now almost 21 years old and still tightlacing, it has changed dramatically my shape from apple to pear paired with clean eating and exercises (some times, i dont exercise much just to make my lower bottom bigger by building muscles there).
    And i have dreams of getting surgeries in the future: boob job, fat transfer from the belly, back to my hips and butt and i was wondering if there would be risks since my organs most probably are all shifted by now? like accidentaly the surgeon puncturing a organ as he would never imagine it would be in that place to start with? and result in dangerous situations?
    Thank you so much in advance, i just really dont recall reading anything of this subject before yet.

    • Hi Juliana, if you check out this article, you can see that model Eden Berlin’s organs are in their normal positions when not wearing a corset (and she has been wearing corsets for years for her performances). There are also many many models who wear corsets and get cosmetic procedures done without complication. However, each person may be different.

      If you’re interested in breast implants, your surgeon will either be putting it above the pectoral muscle, or below the muscle but over the ribcage (and your ribs have intercostal muscles in between, which your surgeon shouldn’t puncture if they know what they’re doing because your heart is underneath). When it comes to liposuction, this is done over the muscle and under the skin, so again your internal organs (underneath the muscle) should not be affected unless your doctor is inadequate.

      But if you still have concerns, then always talk to your doctors and surgical team about the fact that you wear corsets and waist train. I’m not a doctor and not familiar with your medical history – but they will be able to examine you in person, give you precautionary procedures (like an ultrasound etc) if they need to ensure that your organs are in the correct place, and tell you if there’s any reason why you might not be able to move forward.

  2. Hi, i’m 24 and have never given birth. Please will the use of waist trainer or corset for body shape give me problems in future ( when it comes to pregnancy and child birth)?

  3. Tom Sleifer on said:

    About 5 years ago I went to went to a Professional Corsetiere – I asked her is it possible to become “Girdle Dependent”. she told me YES very much so and that actually the dependency is very beneficial. The health benefits have to do with the fact as humans we stand erect, standing erect actually has a very negative effect on our internal organs and muscles. Choosing to daily wear a very firm boned girdle or corset everyday will counteract this negative effect and hold and support ones internal organs in their normal natural position.
    I wanted to find out if all of this was true or not. I set up an appointment with her.
    First she set me down and asked me quite a few questions about my life style – first of all I am fairly active, but for work I sit a long working on computers – this as most of know have a very negative effect on ones posture sitting and standing. I asked the corsetiere if I should be in a corset, she told me that a corset is way too restrictive considering my active life, that she recommended that I should be in a very firm boned zippered panty girdle Rago 6210. She then recommended I go through some Girdle Training that she would work with me.

    Below are the steps the Corsetiere put me through.

    1. First being fitted in the right kind of foundation garment for your life style and your figure. First she determined that I would benefits from being in a long legged high waist heavily boned and zippered panty girdle Rago 6210. She measured my hips and waist and put me in a girdle that was 2 sizes tighter. The reason a girdle does stretch, to get the most amount of control and support I needed to go rather tight.

    2. Learn how to properly put on a girdle to get the most about of benefit of being in a girdle. The corsetiere told me to first lay down on my bed, lean way back, pull up my knees and pull up the girdle, then hook up the hooks and eyes, and pull up the zipper then stand up. I was completely amazed how this felt being well encased supported and held in. I was really pleasantly surprised.

    3. Learn how to keep your stomach relaxed and just rely on a girdle and foundation wear for supporting your posture. This part I found quite hard to do, I had never ever worn any kind of foundation wear. The corsetiere explained this could take a few weeks to even months, I just needed to be quite patient. It does take develop a habit so that your stomach muscles through muscle memory become accustom to the benefits of being well supported. Now after following what the corsetiere told me I completely need to rely on a firm boned girdled for supporting my posture, and I found I feel so much better, I was amazed. The benefits are sure there.

    4. Then developing a daily routine – wake up each morning, clean up and put on a girdle. This like keeping the stomach muscles relaxed does also take a few weeks, and you just need to be patient – after a few weeks to months you do develop a very positive habit and you feel really great in a decent girdle.

    It is best to also purchase a minimum of 3 girdles one to wear, one to keep in your girdle draw, and the other to cold wash and air dry.

    As far a difference in a corset versus a girdle. A corset does help shape your figure and help pull you stomach in, and girdle will not
    really pull your stomach in, but give you needed support.

    As far a becoming girdle or corset dependent, yes it can happen, and yes you can break the dependency if you wa

  4. Tom Sleifer on said:

    About 5 years ago I went to went to a Professional Corsetiere – I asked her is it possible to become “Girdle Dependent”. she told me YES very much so and that actually the dependency is very beneficial. The health benefits have to do with the fact as humans we stand erect, standing erect actually has a very negative effect on our internal organs and muscles. Choosing to daily wear a very firm boned girdle or corset everyday will counteract this negative effect and hold and support ones internal organs in their normal natural position.
    I wanted to find out if all of this was true or not. I set up an appointment with her.
    First she set me down and asked me quite a few questions about my life style – first of all I am fairly active, but for work I sit a long working on computers – this as most of know have a very negative effect on ones posture sitting and standing. I asked the corsetiere if I should be in a corset, she told me that a corset is way too restrictive considering my active life, that she recommended that I should be in a very firm boned zippered panty girdle Rago 6210. She then recommended I go through some Girdle Training that she would work with me.

    Below are the steps the Corsetiere put me through.

    1. First being fitted in the right kind of foundation garment for your life style and your figure. First she determined that I would benefits from being in a long legged high waist heavily boned and zippered panty girdle Rago 6210. She measured my hips and waist and put me in a girdle that was 2 sizes tighter. The reason a girdle does stretch, to get the most amount of control and support I needed to go rather tight.

    2. Learn how to properly put on a girdle to get the most about of benefit of being in a girdle. The corsetiere told me to first lay down on my bed, lean way back, pull up my knees and pull up the girdle, then hook up the hooks and eyes, and pull up the zipper then stand up. I was completely amazed how this felt being well encased supported and held in. I was really pleasantly surprised.

    3. Learn how to keep your stomach relaxed and just rely on a girdle and foundation wear for supporting your posture. This part I found quite hard to do, I had never ever worn any kind of foundation wear. The corsetiere explained this could take a few weeks to even months, I just needed to be quite patient. It does take develop a habit so that your stomach muscles through muscle memory become accustom to the benefits of being well supported. Now after following what the corsetiere told me I completely need to rely on a firm boned girdled for supporting my posture, and I found I feel so much better, I was amazed. The benefits are sure there.

    4. Then developing a daily routine – wake up each morning, clean up and put on a girdle. This like keeping the stomach muscles relaxed does also take a few weeks, and you just need to be patient – after a few weeks to months you do develop a very positive habit and you feel really great in a decent girdle.

    It is best to also purchase a minimum of 3 girdles one to wear, one to keep in your girdle draw, and the other to cold wash and air dry.

    As far a difference in a corset versus a girdle. A corset does help shape your figure and help pull you stomach in, and girdle will not
    really pull your stomach in, but give you needed support.

    As far a becoming girdle or corset dependent, yes it does happen, and yes you can break the dependency if you choose to, but the benefits are really there, and you do feel much more energy and confident when either girdled or corseted. The dependency is actually a combination of both psychological as well as physiological and very beneficial for your over all health. Personally once dependent you really get to point where you actually really prefer the overall benefits. You become aware of much more energy and confidence. In truth I would rather be dependent then not.

    I appreciate any comments.

    Toms

  5. This is such a good article, thoughtful and well written and informative.
    I wear a corset when I have my moontime, it stops a lot of the pains, really remarkable. And I have endometriosis and a lot of pain. I am only an occasional corset wearer, I really like the feel, the look, and at the end of the day I am tired of it and take it off. Or I wear one to dinner, especially if it’s in one of those restaurants where they keep coming by with great meats and food. I choose one which puts pressure on my stomach and then I just enjoy eating, but I never overeat. When I am home and take my corset off I find that I have eaten enough, but I am not full. Especially not bloated. I really hate the feeling of being bloated because I ate too much. You know, the Christmas-dinner effect!

  6. Ana Monteiro on said:

    Hi Lucy, I want to buy a corset in your site but i’m from Europe, Belgium. Do you send the corset to here?

    Thank you a lot.
    😀

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Hello Ana, thanks for your inquiry – yes, I’m able to ship to Belgium. 🙂 It’s quite expensive though, the shipping calculator estimates $42 for standard shipping (2-3 weeks) or $56 for express shipping (1-2 weeks). Unfortunately I don’t have any control over the shipping fees. 😐

  7. Hi! I am relatively new to corsetry. I started in January 2014, and to date have experienced about 3000 hours of corseting. I use sensible lacing (around 4″ of reduction) and normal wear is from 4-18 hours per day. The average is somewhere around 8 hours. At no time do I experience pain or acute discomfort.
    While I do not feel a dependency, I do miss my corsets when I am without them. I do seem to tire more readily. This cold be due to the tendency towards poor posture. I also have low back problems that have all but disappeared after beginning corseting.
    As you have pointed out, there is a boost in self-confidence and a corresponding improvement in posture when wearing a properly fitted corset.
    There is no doubt that I have some emotional bond with my corsets, since I name each of them (doesn’t everyone?). That bond is not to the point of dependency, however.
    I was fortunate to have found your site even before buying my first corset, so I feel that I have been mentored properly from the beginning.

    • bishonenrancher on said:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Regina! I know many people who name their corsets, but as I need to sell many of mine to fund new reviews, I deliberately try not to “get attached” to most of my corsets – or indeed, most of my possessions in general!

  8. wilmachen on said:

    An encyclopedia on corsetry & tightlacing.
    Most enlightening & inspiring.

  9. Wonderful article Lucy. Subject I have pondered, written and talked about with a small group of corset devotees for years. Had my own years of training with extreme modification resulting. And like yourself, have continued the practice on and off, for fun and pleasure, for half a lifetime. I still corset (and/or belt) part time with perfect health. No ill effects. I have known personally most of the famous tightlacers — Cathy Jung, Mrs. Granger, Dita, Michelle, Lauren , Mr. Pearl — and the truth of their experience and dependency and/or addition has never been made quite so clear as you have in this blog. Thanks.

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