Tag Archive: how corsets heal

Why Anthologies Are Important (Solaced Ebook Rant)

This is a summary/ transcript of last Friday’s rant. You can watch the video, or read the abridged version below.

Sonder: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you…

This is a term in John Koenig’s Dictionary of Sorrows, and while it may not be in the OED (yet), it’s important nonetheless. Sonder is an important part of empathy, and it’s what I hope to share through my book.

It is so easy to take a person, their experiences, and their whole lived existence, and condense them down into a hard statistic: cause and effect. Before and after.

Don’t get me wrong: as a biochemist who dabbled in research and academia (before my creative side pulled me away) I still think quantitative studies are awesome because they can definitively show a correlation between two events (causation, however, is a different monster).

Coincidentally, Derek of Veritasium uploaded a vlog last week called Why Anecdotes Trump Data and showed that while (scientifically speaking) a longitudinal quantitative study with a large cohort is always more credible — sometimes personal experiences and strong, relatable narratives are more memorable, and carry more weight (emotionally speaking), even when the scientific evidence is not so strong.

While I would LOVE to do a longitudinal study on the long term physiological effects of corset wear (I’ve been saying this for a good 3-4 years now), I do not yet have the resources to do so. But every study starts with a proposal. And Solaced (the Corset Benefits book), while full of “anecdata” that may very well be pooh-pooh’d by some, will inevitably start a conversation.

The Importance of Empathy and Stories of Adversity

Through this anthology, over 100 writers have poured out their hearts and opened themselves up. Some have recounted past horrors and made themselves vulnerable to let you to step inside their heads and live vicariously through them for a few minutes.

Now, I know that normally “vicarious” is associated with something positive. A lot of the stories in this book are about adversity, and I would even warn that some stories may be considered triggering to some readers. But in many ways, stories of overcoming adversity is important too.

Not all of the testimonials in this book will necessarily have “happy endings” because:

  1. In a true first-person narrative, the end of the story is the writer’s true lived experience up to that moment. Therefore it’s not really an ending.
  2. “Happy Endings” imply perfection, and no life is perfect. The stories you will read in this anthology are far from a perfect outcome — but you will see where the writers have come from and where they are now. For some people, it’s not about perfection. It’s about a journey towards recovery, improved health, a highER quality of life than they once had. It’s inspiration and motivation to use the tools you’ve got (even if that tool is a simple corset) to get yourself to a better place.

The real question: why didn’t I write this entire book myself?

Well, gosh. That question sounds like I didn’t even do any work for this book. Even though there are over 100 writers who contributed to this book, I still put in a considerable amount of time and effort as the organizer, compiler, main editor, interviewer, and transcriber (for people who were too ill to write and sent in their stories through phone or Skype). I also consulted lawyers, made sure the writers were compensated (out of my own pocket), followed up on contracts, etc. — so it’s not like I had NO role in this book.

(On another note, I did write material and introductions to nearly every chapter, and soon realized that this book might be 2000 pages long — so, much of it was scrapped or stored for later for several future mini ebooks… One project at a time.)

Who cares about a book filled with the testimonials of strangers?

Click here to purchase Solaced (the official Corset Benefits book)

Update: Solaced is now available exclusively on Amazon! Click here to learn more.

Please refer to the above statements on empathy. Also, there’s nothing quite like a true, first-person testimonial straight from the source — even though a quantitative study is strongest form of research, the sworn testimonies in this anthology will always be stronger than me referring to a “friend-of-a-friend-who-claimed-blah-blah-blah.” It is more credible and more “clean” than a game of broken telephone.

I’m flattered that some people care so much about the content I write that they prefer to exclusively read my work, and are less excited about reading the experiences of others. But I feel it’s important to remind you that I do not pull knowledge out of the ether! I have useful research skills and have done my own footwork, yes — but a lot of what I know is because of people in the community just like these writers — because of YOU.

I am indebted to others for freely sharing what they know, because that is how we collectively grow. Knowledge is power, and it is meant to be shared — and everyone deserves a voice, not just myself.

So for those who object to this anthology, I think we’re focusing on the wrong question. Instead of asking “who cares about the stories of strangers,” the question should be: “Given that these ‘strangers’ granted me this platform in the first place, what good is my platform if not to give leverage to those voices that would not otherwise heard?”

Corset Benefits Book (Chapter Preview!) + Your Thoughts Wanted!

Photo [Right]: Juno Lucina is one of the writers for Solaced – you’ll read her story of her personal transformation, The Art of Aging, in the Mature Corseting chapter.

As we take the next few weeks to put the finishing touches on the Solaced Corset Anthology, I’d like to make sure that we’re on the right track. Since the corset community has made this book possible in the first place (first by helping to build the list of corset benefits on this page, and then by submitting more in-depth experience for the book), it’s only fair that you, the community, also have a say in what stories end up in the final book.

I was initially worried about not having enough stories for the book, but after over 150 prospective writers (about 120 of whom submitted stories) as it turns out, I have too many stories now, and my editor has told me to cull. I’m very bad at this and need your help.

This book will have more of a focus on the therapeutic (physical and emotional) benefits of corsets, and there may be an opportunity to make another volume focused around the corset community and industry in general, as well as other “softer” stories (so whatever stories will be cut from this book, will likely make it into the next one!). Below you’ll find the list of topics/ chapters: you get a say in which topics interest you most, and which ones you would probably skip.

You can also let me know in your comment whether you prefer Kindle, Paperback, Audio, or another book format! Kindle will be the first to be released, but I will almost definitely bring the book to print a bit later on. Other formats I will consider if the demand is high enough.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Solaced: 99 Uplifting Narratives about Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope

Chapter list (NOTE: This has been edited to reflect the final version of the book)

Click here to purchase Solaced (the official Corset Benefits book)

UPDATE: The book is now available! Click here to see it on Amazon!

  1. Back Injuries – structural support after physical trauma
  2. Spinal Curve – support or correction of scoliosis, kyphosis, or lordosis
  3. Breast support – including treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome
  4. Weight Loss & Lifestyle – using the corset as a kickstarter or external lap-band
  5. Hypermobility & EDS – preventing subluxation
  6. Disability – seven stories of how corsets help with various physiological disorders
  7. Fibromyalgia – promoting muscle relaxation and drug-free pain relief
  8. Gastrointestinal Disorders – helping with the symptoms of IBS, chronic constipation, and ulcerative colitis
  9. Dysmenorrhea & Endometriosis – using compression to reduce period cramping
  10. Post-Surgical Abdominal Weakness – support of the abdominal muscles following surgery
  11. Armor – the corset’s protective role during car accidents or against violent aggressors
  12. Body Positive – recovery from eating disorders and body dysmorphia
  13. Post Partum – treatment of diastasis recti, symphysis pubic dysfunction, and post partum depression
  14. Gender Identity – overcoming gender/body dysphoria, assisting in expression
  15. Anxiety & Depression – using deep pressure therapy to improve mental well-being
  16. Autism Spectrum – using deep pressure therapy for those with ASD
  17. PTSD & Coping with Adversity – pressure therapy following traumatic or difficult events
  18. Mature Corseting – wearing corsets from middle age and onward, commentary on aging
  19. Corsets & Metaphysics – essays on Reiki and the chakras
  20. Newspaper Clippings – a small collection of Victorian newspaper articles on corsets saving the lives of wearers
  21. Potpourri – stories that don’t quite fit in with the others

Which topics do you look forward to reading the most? Leave a comment below!

Do Corsets Carry any Health Risks?

corset_carrot

I can and have talked for hours on this subject, but writing a dedicated article on corset health risks is undoubtedly going to open a can of worms.

Not surprisingly, I get this question a lot. When I look at my site search term referrers for the past month alone, I see:

  • dangers of waist training
  • is waist cinching dangerous
  • risks of corset waist training
  • waist trainer dangers
  • the dangers of corsets
  • health risks corsets
  • waist training risks
  • is waist training bad for you

If you search for any of these terms and happen to click on an online newspaper column or a fitness blog, they will probably parrot the same horror stories and urban legends that have been repeated for the past century – ever evolving, like a game of broken telephone.

In a previous article responding to BBC’s “Hidden Dangers of the Victorian Home”, I explained how other clothing generally considered acceptable today, especially high heels, can pose risks in certain situations.

In the interest of keeping this post short, I won’t go into specifics about every single corset-related ailment ever uttered; if you are interested in learning how the corset may affect specific systems, the Physical Effects of Corseting series is there at your disposal. You’re welcome to watch the playlist on Youtube or read the corresponding articles in this section of my site. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet, but my biochemistry degree has  given me a fair understanding of how the body works, and taught me how to do proper research.

Any time someone asks me whether corseting is dangerous, I will always tell them the same thing: if you are already in good health, if you invest in a well-made corset that actually fits your body properly, and if you are responsible about how you use the corset, then danger can be minimized. But one time a reporter tried to get me to state that I believe corsets pose zero risk. No. Even as a regular lacer and a proponent of corsetry, I will never say that corsetry poses zero risk. There is a risk with everything. Let me explain:

Carrots pose a risk to your safety

I’m sure most dieticians would tell you that carrots are very healthy, but my aunt spontaneously developed a fatal allergy to them while pregnant with my cousin (she had been able to eat them all her life, then one day she went into anaphylaxis from them). One of my friends in university once accidentally inhaled a baby carrot and it lodged in his throat.  In both situations, they were home alone. Had they not been able to take proper action in time, carrots could have killed them.

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I was chopping a carrot into sticks, and it rolled out of place and I ended up slicing my finger open! I was lucky – had the knife been sharper, had the angle of the knife been different, or had I dropped the knife, I could have lost a finger or hit a larger blood vessel and bled profusely. Sounds ridiculous, but accidents happen every day.

Everything (even corsets and carrots) comes with risks, but it depends on what conditions you’re already predisposed to (e.g. my aunt’s allergy) and it depends on how responsibly you use it (e.g. in the case of my buddy who choked due to user error). And in the case of my slicing my finger open chopping carrots? Well, the slicing was really done by the knife, and caused by myself (also user error) – not the carrot. It didn’t stop the carrot for taking the blame, though. To this day I hate chopping carrots, although I’m fine with using a sharp knife to cut up other food. Both my friend and my aunt avoid carrots, for obvious reasons. Had carrots not been so ubiquitous, I might have thought that carrots were killers, as so many think of corsets today.

Exercise poses a risk to your safety

There are tales of CrossFit athletes developing rhabdomyolysis (this is the disintegration of muscle fibers causing an influx of myoglobin carried through the circulatory system), which can overload the kidneys, and in some situations cause kidney damage or failure and the need for emergency dialysis.

Weight lifting can cause hernias, it can cause uterine/vaginal prolapse in women, and with poor form it can lead to broken bones or ruptured tendons.

People who were otherwise completely fit and healthy have been known to suddenly die of heart failure in the middle of sports or running, due to a previously asymptomatic and undiagnosed congenital heart condition.

I am not saying this to vilify carrots or any type of exercise. I have always stressed that a healthy lifestyle is not without proper nutrition and exercise. But it would be irresponsible to say that anything in this world, no matter how common or how seemingly innocuous, comes without risk. Water has risks. Heat and cold have risks. Corsets have risks too.

When you use the right tools, when you go about it with proper form, when you are responsible and you accept your body’s limitations, that’s when your risks are minimized.

For almost everyone, the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks. And for many people, for instance Sasha who survived a motorcycle accident, corsetry becomes a necessary medical tool and increases one’s quality of life – and the benefits outweigh the risks.

What are some negative risks or dangers associated with corsetry?

Here are real stories that I have heard first person from modern corset wearers (not urban legends from long ago):

  • Some find that their blood pressure can become elevated while they’re wearing a corset (although those with chronically low blood pressure have found this to be beneficial for them)
  • Others find that if they have uterine prolapse, that the pressure from the corset makes it uncomfortable.
  • In my case, a corset that is not properly made to fit me can end up pressing on a superficial nerve on my hip and causing pain, tingling or numbness in the area (although this doesn’t happen with a custom corset designed to fit me; and other people who don’t have this asymmetry do not seem to have this issue).
  • Wearing a corset regularly (especially in the heat and without a liner underneath) can potentially cause skin problems which can become worse if you don’t treat it properly and take a break from the corset.
  • Some report slight constipation (although another chronically constipated person had reported becoming more regular since the use of corsets; results vary).
  • Other individuals have experienced headaches or acid reflux (although Sarah Chrisman reported reduction in her migraines and reflux, interestingly).
  • I have also legitimately opened my closet door and had a pile of corsets drop on me before.

What are some positive risks or benefits associated with corsetry?

There is an entire section of my website called Corset Benefits that is dedicated to collecting the positive stories and benefits people have experienced since they started using corsets. It’s three pages long; covering physical, mental, emotional, societal and economical factors.

Corsets are not made for everyone, just as certain types of shoes are not made for everyone. If you have certain health conditions (including but not limited to) hypertension, certain types of hernias, or conditions that cause gastrointestinal inflammation (irritable bowel, Crohn’s, colitis, etc), you may find that certain risks outweigh the benefits. This is why I will always say to talk to your doctor if you would like to use a corset for any reason, whether it’s for fun or aesthetic reasons, whether you are waist training, or whether you wear the corset for therapeutic purposes.

Talk to your doctor.

I put that in the largest font WordPress would let me, because it’s extremely important. My family doctor, my chiropractor, and even my dentist all know about my corsets. I have also had my chiropractor take an x-ray of me while wearing one of my corsets. I’ve also had the opportunity to show some of my corsets to a clinical psychologist, a psychotherapist, and several registered nurses to see what they think. Not one of these practitioners have told me to stop wearing corsets. Nevertheless, I still have my health monitored regularly because I want to do this responsibly.

I also invest in custom corsets that fit my body and accommodate my individual quirks (like the nerve that runs over my left hip) so they don’t cause me discomfort. I listen to my body: I put on a corset when I feel like it, and I loosen or remove the corset when I feel like it. There is nothing heroic about pushing yourself further than your body can handle.

So here I am, a corset cheerleader, telling you that wearing corsets does carry some risks. If you tell me that you plan to wear a corset or that you already wear corsets, I trust that you have already done extensive research on corsetry (from multiple sources), that you are aware of corset health risks or side effects of corsets (both good and bad), that you have talked to your trusted practitioner, that you have been given the thumbs up in your health (or that your health conditions merit the therapeutic use of a corset), that you are able to read and respond appropriately to your body’s signals and go about wearing corsets responsibly. If you haven’t, then you are putting the risk of user error into your own hands.

%d bloggers like this: