Posted on 5 Comments

Corsets and Rib Removal

This week is an update on corsets and rib removal (rib resection being the proper term for it), because this surgical procedure has been circulating in the news again recently. Back in 2012, I believe I said that there was no medical documentation of anyone in the no one past or present had ever surgically broken or removed their floating ribs for purely aesthetic purposes, and I turned out to be mistaken! Pixee Fox (The Living Cartoon) had three pairs of ribs removed in 2015, and more recently Rodrigo Alves had two pairs removed in late 2017. Since both of them habitually wear corsets, many people have emailed and messaged me to ask my take on this, so this gives me the opportunity to correct what I stated 5-6 years ago.

 

Why Did I Doubt Cosmetic Rib Resection Before?

“The Corset: A Cultural History” by Valerie Steele (2001). Click through to view on Amazon (referral link).

I originally got this information from Chapter 10 of Victorian Secrets by Sarah A Chrisman (it’s still an excellent memoir on corsets and waist training otherwise), and also from Valerie Steele’s book The Corset: A Cultural History which was published in 2001. At the time, Steele couldn’t find any official publication from the 19th or 20th centuries regarding elective cosmetic surgery to remove the ribs:

“Historians sometimes claim that rib removal occurred, but without providing evidence, or they hedge their bets by mentioning the ‘rumor’ that certain women had this operation … It would have been very difficult for a woman to find a trained surgeon willing to undertake such a hazardous operation for cosmetic purposes. Histories of plastic surgery to not mention rib removal.

“Rumors of movie stars having their lower ribs removed still circulate. It would now theoretically be possible to perform such an operation, and someone somewhere may have done it. ‘But there’s never been anything published about it; no one has owned up to performing such a procedure, much less to having had one,’ says Dr. John E. Sherman of Cornell University’s medical school.” (Steele, 2001, p 73-74)

This was obviously in specific context to rib resection as a purely cosmetic surgery, however. Nobody doubts that rib resection has been used for various medical purposes.

 

Medically Necessary Reasons for Removing the Ribs Today

Two pairs of floating ribs (11th and 12th ribs) highlighted in red; note how they don’t wrap around and join in the front. Courtesy of Wikipedia (creative commons).
  • If someone breaks a rib by injury, or has a congenital condition that led to severely deformed and rotated ribs, and there’s a chance it might never be corrected (in the case of broken ribs, they might never heal properly), sometimes the surgeon believes it’s better for the patient to remove it.
  • If there is any cancer that spreads to the bone and it cannot be effectively treated by other measures like chemotherapy or radiation, the bone is amputated.
  • The ribs can also be removed to use in reconstructive surgery in smaller parts of the body. A common place to use these bones is in the face and jaw (after a bad injury or oral cancer, etc.) because using your own tissue is said to have a lower chance of rejection or reaction, compared to titanium plates and the like.
  • Sometimes the upper ribs are removed for medical purposes: the first rib (close to the clavicle (aka collarbone) can be removed in hopes of correcting Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, blood clots in the neck and shoulder, Reynaud’s Syndrome, or other medical complications that might arise from nerves or blood vessels growing around the bones of this area above the collarbone. Some people even have little vestigial cervical ribs that grow out of the neck (this is rare – like being born with a tail).
  • There are also many open surgeries where the ribs are temporarily broken or removed to get at the heart, lungs or kidneys, and then the surgeons usually put the ribs back again.

You can read more about the more common reasons for rib resection on this site.

 

However, Victorians Did Not Remove Their Ribs

The idea that millions of women in the 1800s removed their floating ribs for the sake of vanity is absurd. This was a time before anesthetic was able to be calibrated based on a person’s size and weight – at the time, ether or chloroform was used as anesthetic, and depending on how much was administered to the patient, there was a risk of them either waking up in the middle of surgery, or never waking up again.

Puncturing a lung and causing it to collapse was also very real risk (and is still a risk today) because you’re working so closely to the area, trying to separate bone from the intercostal muscles that lie overtop of the lungs.

Also, people didn’t know about blood types until around the year 1900 – if a patient lost too much blood and needed a transfusion, it was a game of roulette to find a donor that would match their blood type (if one could find a donor fast enough at all).

Germ theory was only really starting to be accepted around the 1880s, so before this time, many surgeons would not sterilize their tools or even wash their hands. Even if a physician were an early adopter of germ theory and did learn the importance of hand washing, it would still be about 50 years before penicillin would be discovered in 1928 (and even then, it wasn’t officially medically distributed until closer to 1940). So infections, complications, and fatalities associated with any surgical procedure (medically necessary or not) were still extremely high.

Remember that surgical procedures were so feared that as recently as WWI, among those who needed life-saving surgery, many opted for death instead – so the idea of many women to voluntarily opt for cosmetic surgery around this time is simply ridiculous and not based in fact.

In fact, a lot of rumors about Victorian period (rib removal surgeries, tightlacers’ spines breaking in half when not supported by a corset, forced tightlacing to 12″ waist circumference by strict school headmistresses, etc.) were actually stories from 19th century fiction pieces and fetish magazines. People forget that fanfiction was still a thing a few centuries ago; not every surviving publication from the era was documented fact. (A great documentary to learn more about the gruesome history of surgery is one called Blood and Guts, a History of Surgery).

Also worth mentioning: a sizeable number of surviving photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian eras have been edited (essentially an early form of “Photoshop”) by painting over parts of the negatives to make women’s waists look smaller, more tapered, and more extreme than they really were. Karolina Żebrowska did a great video explaining this (and giving a very easy modern example), which you can watch here.

An old capture of part of an article “Victorian Tightlacing Myths” by Contour Corsets; showing a doctored photo of Polaire and what her waist probably looked like in reality. Fran explained it better than I ever could.

When Did Cosmetic Rib Removal Start Getting More Popular?

According to Steele’s book (as of 2001), rib resection as a purely elective cosmetic surgery was not something that had been medically documented before. While there are countless rumors of various celebrities having their ribs surgically removed (Cher, Marilyn Manson, Cindy Crawford, etc.) they have never been medically verified… but from my research, around 2006-2007-2008, rib removal has been discussed as a procedure for trans women to create a more narrow torso and waistline.

Here is a video from 2011 by Dr. Aaron Stone performing a tummy tuck, liposuction and rib removal on one patient to create a smaller waist (content warning: very graphic – blood, muscle and bone tissue clearly visible, as well as some genitals).

However, the procedure is invasive that most doctors will not consider performing it. Some patients claimed to fly down to South America to have it performed, as they were hard-pressed to find doctors in Europe or North America willing to do it. And it goes without saying that the surgery carries all the same risks as other major surgeries: risk of reaction to anesthesia, infection, sepsis, problems healing, etc. (And there’s still a risk of collapsing a lung during the surgery and then you’d have to re-inflate it.)

 

Notable (and Documented) Cases of Cosmetic Rib Removal

Pixee Fox (“The Living Cartoon”) sporting a conical rib corset, laced to 16 inches. Click through to go to her website and learn more about her procedures.

We can’t have a comprehensive article on modern rib removal without talking about arguably the most famous case of cosmetic rib resection, which was performed on Pixee Fox, who is another corset enthusiast!  For her “living cartoon” project, she had 3 pairs of ribs removed in 2015 (the four floating ribs and a pair of false ribs above them), which allowed her to cinch her waist down further in her conical-rib corsets. More accurately, according to Fox’s surgeon, her ribs were not fully removed but rather shortened, as he explained in this interview in 2016.

The two lowest ribs (11th and 12th ribs) are “floating” and don’t wrap fully around the ribcage to begin with. If you look at a skeleton, the bottom two sets of ribs are only connected at the back, and can swing like hinges in and out with your breath. According to Fox’s surgeon, he shortened her ribs by removing the cartilage tips on the sides but left part of ribs in the back, around the kidney area.

Another documented case of voluntary rib removal was performed on Rodrigo Alves who had two pairs of ribs (the floating ribs) removed. To prove that it was real, the consultation and surgery streamed on Alves’ Instagram, and Alves was allowed to take home and keep his removed ribs in a jar. Click here for an interview with Alves on This Morning (content warning: his removed ribs are shown around 30 seconds into the interview).

 

My Opinions on Cosmetic Rib Removal

If you’ve followed me for long enough, you know that I prefer to report objectively on corset-related news; especially when it comes to health and medical cases relating to corsetry. However, there was an overwhelming number of requests for my my personal opinion on Pixee Fox and Rodrigo Alves after reading their recent stories in the media. Let me be clear: asking me to gossip and share my personal opinions of people I’ve never met is not very classy.

Regarding my opinion of cosmetic rib removal of the procedure itself: It is not something I would ever consider, and I don’t find it necessary because corsets are able to shift the ribs very dramatically over years or decades (as in the case of Cathie Jung).

Of course having your ribs surgically removed is not an average procedure, and both Pixee and Rodrigo have said that they were never going for average – both of them have said in interviews, in their own way, that they prefer to stand out: they are not aiming to look like anyone else, and they’re each setting records and pushing the limit as to what plastic surgery is able to do. While I wouldn’t recommend removing ribs for purely aesthetic reasons, it’s really not my place to say to other people “Hey, you’re not allowed to do that with your body!” because their body is not mine to begin with.

Considering how difficult it is to spread the message that corsets are capable of promoting self-esteem and body-image, they can be empowering and are a strong expression of bodily autonomy, it would be especially hypocritical of me to drag anyone for having a procedure that they researched thoroughly, responsibly consulted with professionals, and really, really wanted for themselves. I am less familiar with Alves’ experience (partially because it’s so recent), but it is obvious that Pixee Fox had done plenty of research and was aware of the risks; she sought many professional opinions on rib removal before going through with it, as was evident by the fact that so many doctors refused to perform the procedure before she found one that was willing.

Moreover, I have never heard Fox pressure her followers to do the same; she’s never said, “Hey everyone, you all NEED to do this!” Rather, she always says in her interviews, “I’m doing right by me, and you should do right by you.”

Regardless, the procedure is finished and what’s done is done. I’m happy that the operations seemed to have gone well for all three medically documented cases (the trans woman in 2011, Pixee Fox in 2015, and Rodrigo Alves in 2017).

My final word regarding my opinion on all of this: it’s not something I would ever consider, but my opinion is irrelevant. For people who have already gone through with this surgery, whether they’ve “gone public” with it or not – from what I can see they’re not committing any harm to others, and so they deserve the same amount of respect as anyone else.

 

Creating a Smaller Waist and Ribcage Using Corsets

X-ray of Cathie Jung in a corset, demonstrating that she still has all ribs – they have just tapered though years of corset training with conical rib corsets. Click through to see her other scans.

It is entirely possible to achieve a small corseted waist without surgery – Cathie Jung has been wearing corsets for some 40 years, and has a 15 inch waist underneath her corsets – if you look at her X-rays, you’ll see that she has all 12 sets of ribs; they’ve just been contoured and formed over decades of training.

You can also see the same in the skeletons of women who waist trained in the 1800s, and even Rebecca Gibson’s studies of impoverished French women in the 19th century showed that they experienced some tapering of the ribs as well.

So it is possible to achieve an extreme shape with corsets and creating a tapered ribcage with a conical rib corset, while still keeping all your ribs. It does take many many years (possibly decades for some), and it does require that one has a relatively flexible ribcage (flexible costal joints, where the ribs connect to the spine) to begin with. Some people have extremely rigid ribs and don’t tolerate compression on their ribs at all (their ribs would rather bruise than move). With this in mind, I suppose that the motivations of some people for going forward with surgery are:

  1. they don’t want to wait years / decades for results, and
  2. they may have a very rigid ribcage and are physically unable to compress their ribs using corsets.

 

In conclusion, I wanted to come round and confirm that:

  • Rib removal / rib resection is a real surgery.
  • It is used more commonly for correcting pre-existing medical problems or for reconstructive surgery in other parts of the body.
  • It can be performed as a cosmetic procedure on its own, but it is still relatively rare (and secretive) and most surgeons do not recommend it.
  • It’s not a procedure I would consider for myself / widely condone.
  • It was certainly not successfully done in the Victorian era; there were too many risks and medicine was not that refined enough.

 

I hope this cleared up some common misconceptions about rib removal. What do you think of the myths and truths surrounding the procedure? Have you experienced tapering of your ribs from corsets? Leave a comment below!

Posted on 18 Comments

Introducing the New Corset Sizing Tool!

This past weekend I made a free corset sizing tool – one that accurately calculates your ideal corset size based off of your measurements, lifestyle, and personal needs (because “4-6 inches less than your waist” sometimes isn’t specific enough.)

After testing this calculator with close to 100 people, it seems to have over 90% accuracy rate. While it won’t replace talking to a real person for their recommendation, and it doesn’t take every life situation into account, it will give you a good place to start.

One more important thing:

Just because this calculator recommends *A* specific size, does not mean every corset in that size will fit you perfectly. (After you find your ideal corset size, you need to find a corset that suits your curve as well! Head on over to the Corset Database for more free tools!)

See the video below for a tutorial on how to use this free tool!

 

In the video I go through four examples:

Example 1: a slender athlete who wants to start waist training. (Timestamp: 1:20)

  • 26 inch natural waist
  • visible abs in front
  • bit soft, fingers sink into side
  • wants to waist train
  • weight fluctuates, with a natural tendency to lose (because they’re doing sports all the time)

This would recommend a size 22” if they want their corset to lace closed, or size 20” if they prefer a small lacing gap in the back.

 

Example 2: someone who works in an office and perhaps has a sedentary lifestyle, but likes to wear vintage clothing and wear a tightlacing corset underneath. (Timestamp: 2:40)

  • 32 inch natural waist
  • bit soft in front
  • bit soft at the side as well
  • interested in tightlacing
  • wants to wear their corset laced closed

This gives a waist size of 27″, which you can correct to a “real” corset size by using the extra question at the bottom. Size up if you have less experience, or size down if you have a little more experience.

 

Example 3: a mother who’s had multiple pregnancies, a lot of weight gain and loss over the years, and suffers from lower back pain. They’re not interested in waist training, but just wants something to smooth over the loose skin of their tummy and support their spine. They might have a similar waist size to the last person but a very different composition, and different needs. (Timestamp: 3:56)

  • 35” natural waist
  • very soft in front
  • very soft on the side
  • wants a corset for back support or pain relief
  • fluctuates in weight, with a natural tendency to gain
  • prefers a lacing gap in the back

This calculates a waist size of 29″ which can be corrected up to 30″ if they have no corset experience. When worn with a small lacing gap, the corset will be just snug enough to hold in their loose skin and support their posture.

 

Example 4: someone starting out a bit larger, who has made a new year’s resolution to lose weight (I’ve been getting a lot of emails like this in the past few weeks!) and wants a corset to last them a little longer through their weight loss. (Timestamp: 5:16)

  • 35” natural waist
  • very soft in front
  • very soft at the side
  • interested in waist training
  • they are actively in the process of losing weight (the wording is intentional here – see below)
  • NO gap at the back (see explanation below for the reason why)

This calculates a corset size of 38″ which will carry their waist training at least several months through their weight loss journey, depending on how much they plan to ultimately lose, and how quickly they’re dropping weight.

Extra notes on this case:

Please choose the “actively and intentionally losing weight” ONLY if you are currently in the process of losing weight – because if you only intend to lose weight but have made no steps to start, clicking this option might not be realistic and might leave you with a corset that’s too small to wear. Clicking this option takes you down a size, so that you don’t have a corset that you shrink out of too quickly. (Same with the other option of intentionally gaining weight, it will take you up a size!) So if you’re actively in the process of losing weight already, you may click that option. You’ll also see a cautionary note pop up on the calculator, if you are changing your weight quickly, so be sure to give this a read!

Then you get to the question for a lacing gap in the back – if you’re already losing weight, we recommend choosing the “no gap” option otherwise it will give you a corset that can be around 12 inches smaller than your natural waist (which is not recommended or safe for beginners).

People with a larger natural waist tend to be able to cinch more. Some experienced corset models have a natural waist over 40 inches and are quite soft, and they’re able to cinch down 8 inches within minutes! If you’re also losing weight on top of that, the calculator will size you down. But do keep in mind that there’s a point where OTR corsets don’t have laces long enough to open up by 10-12 or more inches – also, if the gap in the back is too big, you won’t have the right torque to pull it tighter so it wraps around the body and fits properly.

Hope this tutorial helped! Try out the sizing calculator for yourself and let us know if it worked for you!

Posted on Leave a comment

Drafting Corset Patterns Digitally with CAD (Book Review / Storytime!)

The following is a transcript of my video “Pattern Drafting in CAD (Review + Storytime!)” on Youtube. Please note that this post contains affiliate links for Etsy and Foundations Revealed. If you’d like to watch the video and the walkthrough of the Foundations Revealed pattern tutorial, see my video below.

 

Hi everyone!

I haven’t done a book review in a very long time, but I’d really like to change that. This resource I’ll be talking about today, “Corseting the 21st Century Body” by Caroline Woollin – it has given me another skillset I didn’t know was possible for me. I’m gonna try not to wax poetic about this or make it seem too much like an ad, because really it’s not. I paid for this book with my own money, I put in the work to learn and practice it, and it’s saved me months or possibly years of my time, it’s paid for itself many times over, and revolutionized the way I work.

As some of you may remember, I was in a car accident in 2014 which left me with neck and back issues. Ever since then I’ve had a difficult time sewing and even doing things like leaning over a table for long periods of time for tasks like pattern drafting. And when I developed the hourglass and Gemini corset lines, these were drafted by hand, every size was graded by hand, and it put a lot of stress on my back.

The Gemini line was released more than a year after the hourglass line because I worked the old fashioned way – with pencil and paper, then I would trace a paper copy of that most recent rendition of the pattern, and literally have to mail it. If I mailed it rush, signature required, to Thailand, it’s like over $70. And it would still take 1-2 weeks to get there, and who knows if it might be damaged. There’s a lot of risks, and every part of that process takes a long time.

The fastest way to get things done is to go to Thailand, but that is thousands of dollars just in flights, plus coordinating schedules and the like. And I wasn’t able to do that last year during the development of the Gemini line, because I was still finishing up school.

Grading the Gemini pattern, sizes 18 up to 42, in the round rib silhouette and the straight rib silhouette, is 26 individual patterns. And because I was doing it by hand, there were small inaccuracies between each size, and sometimes precision of millimeters is necessary in drafting and constructing a corset.

Amber of Lovely Rats was my MVP in 2016 because she helped digitize the corset patterns for me. I know that this is a skill taught in fashion school, and I know that my dad, being a technician, had used CAD (computer aided design) programs with his work in the past, but I was very intimidated by the technology and didn’t think I’d ever be able to wrap my head around it without formal instruction like a course.

Enter Caroline Woollin, of Corsets by Caroline. She has been working with AutoCAD for at least 15 years, and in late 2016 she published a book on Etsy called “Corseting the 21st Century Body” which is all about using modern drafting techniques to bring a contemporary edge to the traditional art of corset making.

Caroline also has a Patreon where if you give just $5 a month, you’ll get a new corset pattern, already tested, graded to size and everything, every month. Individually these corset patterns sell for $10-20 USD, so getting a new one monthly for just a $5 subscription is a fantastic deal if you’re really keen on experimental corset making and testing out different styles. So she really practices what she preaches and uses CAD heavily in her own corset business.

Corseting the 21C Body, written by Caroline Woollin (Corsets by Caroline). Click through to purchase her book via Etsy.

Anyway, back to this book, “Corseting the 21st Century Body” – it’s a 97 page book, and half of that is on learning how to create corset patterns in DraftSight which is a free CAD program, and the latter half is a bit of instruction on how to construct corsets, but it’s deliberately lightweight in this area – Caroline says that you should already have some knowledge in corset making before you pick up this book because the instruction of actually assembling the corset itself is not fully extensive, the most valuable part is in the pattern drafting. And she not only gives you step-by-step instructions, but she also gives you specific exercises to build up your skills and familiarity with the various tools you’ll need for drafting patterns.

In December 2016 I first cracked open this book and I played around with the program for an hour, realized I was in over my head, and decided to shelve the idea of learning Computer Aided Design for awhile. It wasn’t until April that I gave it another try. I gave myself the goal of going through one page per day, and practicing making lines and circles in Draftsight for like 20 minutes a day. I figure, 45 pages of instruction, it would take me around 6 weeks to get through the book, and then maybe by the end of another 6 weeks of regular practice, maybe I’ll get good enough that I’ll have my first corset pattern drafted and I’d be able to test it. I was going really slow with it, and Caroline said that this is not a skill you can perfect in a weekend. She’s right, I didn’t go through it in 2 days. I ended up getting the hang of it in three days. Obviously I don’t have a perfect knowledge of every single function, but all the tools I need for drafting corset patterns and then a few more.

Caroline is a super sweet person as well, and there were times where I got stuck and felt like I wanted to throw my computer out the window, but she said I could email or message her anytime if I needed clarification. I think there were 3-4 situations where I think I just messed up on the settings and did something silly. For instance, I kept trying to save my patterns as a PDF but they would all be “invisible” when I opened my PDF file. It was just because the layers were accidentally “locked” and had the “no print” icon checked. Most of my frustrations just took the smallest check of a button to resolve.

Remember when I said it would take me an hour to grade each size of a corset pattern on paper? Within a few weeks, I had enough practice that I was able to really precisely grade each size in less than 10 minutes, and that’s with seam allowances, grain lines, labels, color coding, everything.

I was able to sit or stand at my desk, as I was comfortable, and didn’t have to hurt my neck or back. And the best part was being able to instantaneously email the corset patterns to the factory instead of using snail mail which would take 2 weeks. I would make a corset pattern and email it to them in time for them to receive it by 8am (Thailand time). By the end of their work day (which is the next morning for me), they’d have a mockup or sample made. We use a combination of methods for testing the samples – either they would mail the corset samples over to me to check in person, or they could send me pictures of the corsets on their fit models (or I would stay up late and Skype with them during their work hours). By the end of the fitting, I would know what changes to make and was able to send them the tweaked pattern the very next day.

Testing one sample used to take us a month using traditional drafting methods and snailmail, and now we could get the same done in as little as 2 days.

By the end of those 3 months, I didn’t just “Learn CAD and have 1 corset pattern drafted” (as per my original goal). Within 3 months, I had learned and practiced CAD, had 4 corset patterns drafted, tested multiple times, tweaked, perfected, and fully graded! Also, I was able to scan in and digitize many of my old corset patterns lying around – so I could get rid of paper clutter. Everything is much more organized and easy to pull up for reference, and I’m able to more quickly and easily tweak those patterns if I want to use them again in the future.

When I say that this book has revolutionized the way I work and saved me a mind boggling amount of time, and paid for itself many times over, I mean it.

Huge thanks to Caroline for creating this resource. If you have any interest in learning how to draft corset patterns digitally, you need this book. As someone who was literally physically pained by drafting by hand, learning this new skillset was so freeing. Please don’t be intimidated if you don’t have any formal education in computers or technology, we all start somewhere. Visit Caroline’s Etsy shop here.

By the way, the corset pattern I made during this video was the free overbust drafting tutorial from Foundations Revealed, for my personal measurements. If you want this tutorial to make a custom corset pattern for yourself, whether on paper or on computer, click here!

Let me know if you have any questions at all! If you have also read Caroline’s book, let us know what you think of it in a comment below!

Posted on 9 Comments

Reflecting on 2017; Looking to 2018

(Please note that this post contains affiliate links – LucyCorsetry may earn a small commission on Amazon and Etsy purchases made through the following links.)

*
Today marks six years to the day since I first created LucyCorsetry.com

I admit, at the time I dragged my heels about making it in the first place. My then-boyfriend and several of my online friends had been encouraging me to create a public blog for many months, but I didn’t see the point of it at the time. Back in 2012, Youtube was still profitable (not so much anymore) and I saw having a website as just a way to divide (and thus dilute) my time, energy, and audience.

Finally, I was convinced that a blog would help organize my content and make it more easily searchable, plus it could provide useful transcripts for followers who were hard of hearing and couldn’t make the most of my Youtube vids (2012 was still a time when automatic Youtube Closed Captions were… hilariously inaccurate, to say the least).

January 5th, 2012 was the day that I “bit the bullet” and created this site… and it’s been a bit of a wild ride ever since.

Every New Year since then, I’ve written a personal post about my successes, failures and lessons from the previous year. Click any of the links below if you’re interested in reading my previous posts (which may give more context to this year):


A Focus on Weight and Health

A rather overexposed photo of my Lifespan Fitness Treadmill Desk – my new work space as of late 2016. (This investment changed my life.)

After several years of burning the candle at both ends, I suffered a serious case of burnout in late 2016, following my nutrition graduation. 2017 was the year that I was forced to address my health and prioritize my physical, mental and emotional needs. In less than 6 months I ended up losing 42 lbs (19 kg / 3 st) by treating myself as my own nutrition client and walking an average of 3.5 hours a day at my treadmill desk.

As a result, I was finally able to fit into (and thus review) corsets that I had purchased as far back as 2013, and I felt like a rock star at my family reunions and during several photoshoots this past summer!

While I had initially planned to vlog my weight loss journey on my secondary channel, in the end I chose to stay relatively quiet about it while I reassessed my motives, my personal definition of body positivity, and the kind of positive influence I wanted to have on my audience. In late 2017 I decided to deliberately gain back a little bit of weight in a healthy way, in order to increase my strength and normalize my cycles. I promise to talk about my personal journey in a series of videos in 2018, now that I finally feel ready to do so.


67 videos and over 90 blog posts!

Once upon a time, I had a goal of creating over 100 videos a year. That was stopped in its tracks with a series of injuries starting in 2014, and what essentially became a year-long sabbatical while I was finishing up nutrition school through to 2016. I resolved to catch up as much as possible through 2017, and it was (mostly) successful. In 2017, I wrote over 90 blog posts (some were catch-up posts for videos as far back as 2015, many were for this year, and over 30 are for future posts in 2018). I also uploaded 67 Youtube videos in 2017 (my goal was 52 vids).


Corset Database was Launched

This is probably my proudest achievement of 2017. In reality, the Corset Database project had been incubating between Lori (Bound Angel Designs) and myself since 2014, but the realization was slow-going as we lacked the time, funding, and technical support to make it a reality. Once Sunny joined the team in early 2017, everything fell together quickly and Corset Database was launched in March!

Now Corset Database boasts 137 standard-size corset styles across 36 brands, suiting budgets from $15 to $650. Corsets can be filtered according to the rib spring and hip spring, your desired silhouette, shape of top or bottom edge, whether you need extended sizes (under 18″ or over 38″), location of the seller, or whether you plan to waist train or not.

As proud as I am of this database, I know that it can still use a lot of work to make it faster, better, stronger, and a more comprehensive resource, so I’ll be updating it with even more styles throughout 2018.


CAD: A New Skillset and New Opportunities

Corseting the 21C Body, written by Caroline Woollin (Corsets by Caroline)

In 2015 I collaborated with Timeless Trends to redesign their pre-existing corsets and create the curvier hourglass line.

In 2016 we released the Gemini corsets, which (to my knowledge) is the first of its kind – providing the option of either conical or cupped rib silhouettes for the same general style of corset, according to customers’ body types and taste.

In 2017 I was invited to create more designs for Timeless Trends, and with the help of Caroline Woollin’s expert instruction in her book, I was able to quickly pick up Computer Aided Design (CAD) as a pattern drafting tool. By mid-2017 TT and I finalized the patterns for the upcoming Gemini short-hip corsets (a hybrid between the current hourglass and Gemini corsets, bringing together the best of both worlds) as well as the brand-new Libra corset which is designed for a completely different body type! While production has been pushed back considerably due to factory disruptions, I’m assured that these new styles will be released in 2018!


Three Amazing Photoshoots with Rosalind Guder Photography

Model: Me (Lucy Corsetry), Photo: Rosalind Guder Photography, Corset: Corsetry & Romance, boots from Aldo, blouse and earrings from Vanyanis.

I completely acknowledge the absurdity of “shying away from the [still] camera” when I’ve been a consistent vlogger on Youtube for the past 7 years – but the truth is, I’ve somewhat avoided professional photoshoots between the years of 2014-2017 as I prioritized other projects (and again, with the weight gain in previous years, I didn’t feel quite like myself).

However, when Rosalind Guder contacted me and said that she would be in the Toronto area this summer, I just couldn’t pass up the chance of working with her! I gained a newfound confidence in June and July, working with Rosalind and modeling the amazing Bur Oak ensemble from L’Atelier de LaFleur, plus a few additional pieces from my personal corset collection.

Mina LaFleur herself pulled a few all-nighters and helped style the first of these three photoshoots, and was an amazing assistant the day of. It couldn’t have gone more perfectly, and we all made a fantastic team. It was incredibly fun and I can’t wait for the next time I can work with both Rosalind and Mina!


A Focus on Family

Tibby, my cockapoo, on her 15th birthday, July 2017 (with a smol blep)

In late 2016 I decided to try out 23andMe, and it was a fascinating and eye-opening experience in many ways. However, the most valuable part was finding some of my DNA relatives. Through these connections, my family found huge branches of our family tree, and especially a rich history of our East Indian side. Unfortunately we still know relatively little about our Ghanian, Chinese, and Aztec ancestry (largely due to adoption, Anglicization of names, etc), but we’re more optimistic than we were before, now that we’re in touch with many new cousins.

Throughout the summer and autumn of 2017, there were family reunions on both sides of the family – by pure serendipity, several cousins we had never met before (our ancestors lost touch decades ago, back in Jamaica) happened to also live right in the Toronto area!

In addition to finding new family this year, I also nourished the relationships with my pre-existing family, the family I’ve always known, and gave them higher priority in my life in 2017. I was bridesmaid (and emergency seamstress) to my cousin in her wedding this past year, and I cherished spending time with my siblings and cousins more this year than in previous years. Also, my dog Tibby will be 16 this coming year and due to her bladder schedule and various medications, I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in well over a year – but I believe that pets are family to the very end, so sleep is a necessary sacrifice in order to comfort Tibby in what is very likely the last year of her life.


Plans for 2018

This is the part where I cringe a bit, because my intentions for 2018 aren’t that much different from my previous plans for 2017.

New Ebook – last year I had the intention of completing my new ebook (a buyer’s guide and beginner’s manual for the corset novice), which had incidentally also been on the back-burner since 2014. In fact, I first made the announcement for this in mid 2016 when I put my consultation service on hiatus! I can only imagine how embarrassed I might be by the contents of that book had I released it in 2014 as intended, as I’ve learned so much more about corsets in the past 4 years. However, it’s gotten to the point where I feel as though it’s a disservice to “hoard” corset knowledge, even though it was through fear of embarrassment that kept much of this under wraps in the past. I have an obligation to share what I know, so this guide will be of higher priority in 2018.

New Videos – there are also videos that I’ve been afraid to film in previous years: research that pertains to Physical Effects of Corseting; more fitting advice; more sewing, alteration, and repair tutorials – the time-consuming and difficult topics! I will also be branching out my video topics in 2018. As I approach the 6-figure subscriber mark, I’m learning how important it is to diversify. I know that followers are also interested in my nutrition videos and haircare videos, as well as more fun and light-hearted fashion videos. I’ve already finalized the 2018’s video lineup, and it’s going to be amazing.

Solaced in Paperback – …. *sigh* I’m ashamed about how long it’s taken to get this finished. Solaced as an ebook has been out for 1.5 years now, and the paperback is beyond late. While there were some hiccups along the way (the person I had chosen to design the internal layout of the book couldn’t follow through; plus I made the choice to replace some stories, and finally dealt with a piracy issue later in the year), at some point I have to acknowledge that finished is better than perfect. I resolve that Solaced will be out in paperback in 2018.

New Timeless Trends Corsets – another resolution from 2017, I had resolved to design more OTR corsets for customers who have neglected / under-served body types within the corset community. The difference this year is that I’ve already done my part of the design process, and I’m excitedly waiting for production of the Gem-short hip and the Libra corsets!

Tying Up Loose Ends – this year I’m “going back to school” again! I clearly have an issue where I can’t stay out of school (don’t worry, I’m not going on sabbatical again this year)! The difference is that these nutrition CEUs are self-led and can be completed as my schedule allows. I’m also much more organized and disciplined than I was two years ago, and have better stamina regarding spinning multiple plates. (Hopefully.)

More Giveaways! – as I approach 100 000 subscribers on Youtube, I’m compelled to give back to this amazing community. In 2017 I had relatively few corset contests and giveaways, and I would like to do more giveaways across all my social media in 2018, including a huge one once I reach the 100k mark!

Here is to an amazing 2018 for all of us. Thank you for sticking with me for the past six years, and I hope to make the corset community proud this year.

 

What are your goals, hopes and intentions for 2018? Leave a comment below, I would love to know!