Tag Archive: rubber

Corset Liner Master Post + Comparing 5 Brands

Back in 2011 I made an introductory video on corset liners, what they are used for and what you can use as a substitute (tank top, tube top, etc). But at the time I had only experienced one brand of corset liner, and in the past few years I’ve tried a few more from different companies so I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of each today.

What is a corset liner?

A liner is a thin, stretchy, breathable garment that you wear underneath your corset which provides a barrier or buffer between your skin and the corset.

Liners do two things: they protect your skin against chafing, and they help keep the corset clean. I’ll go into more detail below.

Liners are typically made from a very stretchy fabric and designed to be smaller than your natural waist. A well-fitting corset liner, when unstretched, should be about the same waist measurement as your corset’s closed internal waist measurement, so when you’re lacing down, the liner will shrink back with the corset and remain smooth around your body.

Preventing wrinkles or folds under the corset will help keep you more comfortable and prevent pressure sores that might have otherwise occurred if you wore a bulky shirt under your corset instead.

You can purchase specific corset liners, which look like hourglass-shaped tube tops. Most corset liners are for underbust corsets – they cover only from the underbust to the upper hips.

 

Corset liners help protect your body

If you are lacing without a liner, the rigid corset may drag against your skin and pull it in uncomfortable ways, resulting in chafing and bruising. Laces can also cause rope/friction burn if the corset doesn’t have a modesty panel. Corset liners are sometimes made with a relatively slick fabric which allows the corset (and laces) to glide over the liner, reducing the risk of chafing.

A good liner can also prevent your skin from being scratched by a split or rough grommet. All proper liners will also be breathable and moisture-wicking so will help keep your skin comfortable and feeling cool and dry throughout the day.

 

Corset liners help protect your corset

White corset liner by Corset Connection, one of the liners being compared in the table below.

White corset liner by Corset Connection, one of the liners being compared in the table below.

If you’re wearing a corset on a regular basis, especially in warm weather, you’re going to sweat quite a lot. Your body also produces sebum, and trillions of bacteria and yeast cells grow all over your skin and feed of the oil and cholesterol in your sebum, kept in a careful balance to protect you from external pathogenic germs. You are also constantly sloughing off dead skin cells and losing downy little hairs from all over your body. Also, if you use skin products like lotions and perfumes, these can also transfer onto your clothing! This is why some people are understandably disgusted to learn that corsets are rarely (if ever) washed.

Corsets should not be washed regularly, for several reasons which I discuss this article.  It’s imperative that the corset be kept as clean as possible and washing be kept to a minimum.The catch 22 is that corsets can be damaged by being washed, but they can also be damaged by not being washed! The salt in our sweat and the acidic pH of the mantle of our skin can break down fibers in delicate fabrics like silk. Also, an unwashed, dark, damp corset can create a breeding ground for microbes, and affect that delicate balance of critters on our skin – making us more prone to skin infections – yuck!

But wearing a liner between your body and the corset means that the liner will take this abuse instead, and the liner can be washed regularly, saving your corset and keeping it clean and fresh.

Are you absolutely required to wear a liner under your corset? Of course not; a garment is yours to do with as you wish – but if you want your corset to last as long as possible, then it’s a great reason to start!

 

Thin stretchy shirts can be a corset liner substitute

If you don’t have access or can’t afford real corset liners, there are many products that will do as makeshift liners. Some of my favorites include thin cotton babydoll t-shirts (as they are thin, close-fitting, stretchy and breathable), seamless microfiber camisoles and tank tops in the summer, and microfiber turtlenecks in the winter. I have even heard of people wearing body stockings or leotards – just make sure you have some way of going to the bathroom in these, as you don’t want to be in a rush and discover that you have to remove your corset to do your business!

However, most shirts have their limitations: they are usually cut to suit a natural waist, and they’re unlikely to shrink down enough with a corset – the result is a few wrinkles in your shirt under the corset. This is usually not the end of the world, and many people are fine with this especially if their corset is only a moderate reduction and they’re not training 23 hours a day. In shirts that tend to wrinkle on me, I will slide my hands under the corset before tightening and try to bring the fullness of the fabric away from the sides of my waist (where there’s the most pressure) to the back, where it’s less likely to irritate.

 

Corset liner =/= Faja

Both liners and fajas are stretchy and designed to fit smooth around the body. However, they have some important differences:

A corset liner is breathable and moisture-wicking. It’s not shapewear, it’s not so strong that it’s going to pull your waist in by more than an inch or so.

A “rubber cincher” or faja is still stretchy, but it has more resistance so it may bring in the waist by a couple of inches. But the main difference is that it’s not designed to be breathable. The rubber or neoprene coating keeps you warm and encourages you to sweat. The rubber cincher makes you hot and sweaty, whereas a corset liner keeps you cool and dry – literally opposite effects!

Let’s compare the stats of all the corset liners:

The table is pretty wide, be sure to use the slider at the bottom to see all the brands.
BrandContour CorsetsChabaMeMadame SherHeavenly CorsetsCorset Connection
Price$45 USD each, or $125 for set of 3.$10 USD each$20 USD for a pair£14 GBP (~$18 USD) each$20 USD each
Type of FabricSynthetic 4-way stretch Spandex fabric (not swimsuit fabric).75% Bamboo
20% Polyamide
5% Spandex
cotton jersey (4-way stretch knit).Synthetic spandex fabric (feels like swimsuit fabric).Cotton and lycra (thinner than Madame Sher).
# of seams2 seams (I wear the corset with the seams to the front and back, and the tag on the outside).Zero seams (woven tube).2 seams (I wear it inside-out, and rotated so the seams are at the front and back).1 seam which is designed to be worn toward the back of the body, where the laces are.1 seam, and the seam is kind of lapped so it's flatter than a typical seam allowance.
Custom or StandardCustom to my measurementsStandard (sizes S, M, L)Made to match my corset sizeCustom to my measurementsStandard (size medium)
Colors availableBlack, beige, BlackNudeBlack, whiteBlack, white, ivory, nude
Length (Unstretched)14”11” (size medium), 10" (size small)10”12”10”
Circumferential measurements (Unstretched)Waist is 20", underbust is 26", hips are 32”.Size small is 20” along the entire length, size Medium is 24” along entire length.22" waist, same as my corsets - but the underbust/ hips were not to my measurements.Waist is 21", underbust is 28”, hips are 29”.Waist is 24", underbust is 27", hips are 27”.
Stretch Test190%170%150%152%155%
ProsElastic ribbon on the top and bottom helps keep it in place. You can fold your liner over the top and bottom edges of your corset, which helps protect the binding from wear, abrasion, or underboob sweat. Very slick fabric and has very little friction. Very thin and stretchy.Smooth, moisture-wicking, soft to the touch, no seams. Mostly natural fibers (good for those who are sensitive too all synthetic liners).Breathable and cool, great for those who have a skin sensitivity to synthetics. Very slick fabric and has very little friction. Very thin.Pretty stretch lace on the top and bottom edges, which is flatter/ lower profile than a thick folded sewn hem.
ConsNot quite as breathable as the cotton fabrics. Most expensive option (worth it, in my opinion).Fabric is more plush and less slick. The woven hem may leave temporary marks on the skin.When on my body, it tends to shorten a bit so it doesn't cover the full length of my corset. Cotton knits tend to wrinkle a bit more compared to some synthetic knits (like nylon jersey).Not quite as breathable as the cotton fabrics. Also it's a weird shape, and the seam creates a point at the top and the bottom that tends to extend beyond the edges of my corset.The lace has a habit of rolling over on itself - if this annoys you, go with one of the other corsets with a more sturdy hem. Also, cotton wrinkles a little more than the synthetic liners.
Award:Most stretchy, most smooth under corsets. Lucy’s personal favorite.Affordable, moisture-wicking, soft to the touch, 2nd-most stretchy. Lucy’s 2nd favorite.Least expensive, most moisture-wicking.Most slippery.Softest to the touch, most breathable.
Link:http://contourcorsets.com/liners.htmlhttp://amzn.to/2fhEl78http://www.madamesher.com/en/designs/tight-confort/1/cotton-liner/1/http://heavenlycorsets.com/shop-now/#!/Corset-Liner/p/23280799/category=5525899http://www.corsetconnection.com/corset-liner/

Have you tried a corset liner brand not mentioned here? Which brand is your favorite? Leave a comment below!

Immersing Corsets in Water – some considerations

 

If you plan to immerse your corset under water (in order to wash it, dye it a different color, or you plan to wear it to the beach, pool or water park), there are a few things to consider. I have received a surprising number of emails (in the past month especially) from various people wanting to know if it’s okay to swim in their corset.

Although I know of at least two people who have occasionally taken a dip while wearing a corset, and a handful of other models who have worn corsets in water-themed photo shoots (see below), I know that I would not personally swim in a corset. I am not a very strong swimmer, and I need to have full lung capacity and full mobility when I swim – so I know that I’d prefer not to cinch my waist or restrict my ribcage when swimming laps. If I were frolicking in the shallow end and just wearing a corset under my swimsuit for a bit of shape without intending to swim, this might be a different story.

Katelizabeth Waisted Creations Corset betta fish

Creative “Betta Fish” themed photo shoot, featuring a tightlacer in water. Corset and outfit by Waisted Creations. Model/MUA/photo by Katelizabeth Photography. Click through the photo to read more about this photo shoot!

Why do so many corsetieres not recommend washing their corsets?

If your corsetiere creates a custom piece for you and they mention in their wear & care information that the corset should not be washed, please follow their directions. The biggest concern regarding consistently wetting your corset is that the steel bones may rust over time. Also, fabrics like silk and even polyester satin can water stain, and fabrics that are not colorfast will have the dye bleed and fade. JoAnn Peterson (owner of Laughing Moon Mercantile) also taught me that if multiple-layer corsets are made with different fibers (for instance are strength fabric of cotton and a fashion layer of wool suiting) they will have different shrink rates – especially if the fabric isn’t pre-washed – so your corset may end up warped, wrinkly or bubbly if it ends up shrinking.

 

Why were so many advertisements for washable corsets in the early 1900s?

Corsets made in the 1800s that were designed to be worn every day (especially for the working class) were often made from a single layer of hardy cotton and not made in vibrant colours – so there was little worry about different shrink rates or dyes bleeding. Back when corsets were made with reed and whalebone, these come from plants and animals that live in the water, so wetting them occasionally actually helped to condition them, and keep them supple and flexible. Old, dry baleen was brittle and prone to snapping or splintering (which is where the rumors of corsets causing “broken bones” likely came from – it was broken baleen, not broken human bones!).

(Above is a silent film advertisement from the 1910s for Warners corsets, which were guaranteed not to rust, break or tear. By the 20th century, the vast majority of corsets did contain steel bones, though.)

When baleen was first replaced with steel, it was initially a type of ‘mild steel’ ribbon. While in England last year during a visit to the Symington collection, I had the opportunity to see how thin, flexible, and badly rusted these older steel bones were. A few styles of corsets back then had little deliberate slits or gaps in the boning channels, which allowed you to remove the bones before you washed the corset and easily replace them afterward!

Lara Corsets comments: “This ad showing a corset getting wet was shocking at the time because it was common knowledge that soaking a corset would ruin it. Corsets of the 19th century in general are often starched and steam molded to have a certain shape. Washing will literally wash out all of that shaping. They were never intended to be washed. Steel busks were usually paper, fabric or leather wrapped and would absolutely rust. The enameled steel was a big step forward in the 1890s but on OLD enameled flat steels the surface crackles and rust forms quickly. Washing often causes huge rust stains. These Warner’s corsets that claimed to be washable were boned with coraline which was thread wrapped reeds. The only metal on those corsets was the busk, grommets and side steels (if there were any).”

Corset with exposed steel bones

Antique corset with exposed steel bones. This particular style was likely to display the (then) newfangled spirals, but several other corsets had similar slots to remove the bones from the corset prior to washing. From the Symington collection in Leicestershire, England.

Today, modern technology has greatly helped prevent rusting and corrosion of steel. Flat (spring) steels are covered with a white coating and tipped with a tipping fluid, silicone or teflon. Wide busks are made of stainless steel (similar to modern silverware or your kitchen sink) so it’s more resistant to rust.  Spiral steels are galvanized – they’re given a thin coating of zinc to help make them more resistant to rust, but even zinc can corrode over time, so nothing truly makes steel bones rust-proof forever (especially in the case of poor-quality steels sometimes found in budget corsets, which are not coated or galvanized properly).

The difference between workhorse corsets and collectible corsets

Please note that the recommendations and antique ads for washing your corset were intended for workhorse corsets – garments that were designed to be used every day, hold up to high tension for a short time, and eventually wear out. Other brand advertisements of the time boasted that their corsets lasted up to a whole year of use! (Consider the mentality today, where so many people think they can purchase one OTR corset, wear it daily and have it last 5, 10 years or more – not likely today as it wasn’t likely then!)

I’m sure that in 1910, hardly any woman of the time would predict that one of their daily undergarments would become a collector’s piece today – yet here we are. Again, it’s important to note that these garments were not intended to last 100 years. Areas of the cloth can become thin from damage by the elements: fluctuations in moisture and humidity, UV and other radiation, too acidic or too basic pH, or can even be eaten away by moths and microbes. Fibers can dry-rot and become delicate, and you may not see microscopic damage until you handle the corset in some way!

I’ve gotten some traffic recently from antique corset owners who are interested in washing their corset to get rid of the staining and grime the corset has collected over the years. Personally, I would not wash an antique. While the salt and oils from the body left over from the corset’s previous owner can cause some damage to a corset, the strong basic pH of cleanser and the agitation of washing is by far worse for the longevity of the corset – even if that antique contained baleen, and even if it was once intended to be a workhorse.

Additionally, there is a catch-22 with how thoroughly to cleanse an antique. If you use a gentle cleanser, these sometimes contain conditioners that stick to the fibers of the corset and can cause product build-up. Washing with a gentle cleanser will also not kill all the spores that may have settled into the fibers of the corset over decades, which, once wet, can encourage the growth of mould and mildew in your valuable collectible. If you use a harsher cleanser, this will undoubtedly damage the fibers irreversibly! Please consider carefully the ramifications of washing an antique. You will notice that museums don’t wash all their corsets; and many of them are very badly stained. They know that cleaning an antique can possibly destroy it, and would rather put a dirty corset on display than none at all. Despite their manufactured sturdiness, these pieces have become precious and delicate with age, so treat them as such.

Therefore, the information below on getting your corset wet (and in the video, for suggestions on how one might wash a corset) are intended only for contemporary corsets – often modern OTR and workhorse corsets – and not for couture pieces or antiques. When in doubt, always ask the corsetiere or seller their views on wetting or washing your corset.

What should you do if you get your corset wet?

If your corset does end up being immersed water, either for dying reasons, washing, for a photo shoot, or just by accident, it’s best to air-dry it as fast as possible, perhaps in an area with a warm breeze, out of direct sunlight if you’re worried about color fading. If the corset is white, then the UV rays in sunlight have a bleaching effect, and can also naturally deodorize and disinfect – but do be aware that UV rays can also break down the fibers of a corset faster. Absolutely never throw your corset in a tumble dryer!

Still want / need to dunk your corset in water?

Cathie Jung beach corset

Cathie Jung in one of her swimsuit-style corsets

If you do plan to wet your corset on a regular basis, here are some tips to keep your corset functional and beautiful for as long as possible:

  1. Don’t be incredibly attached to your corset. There is a possibility that it’ll get ruined, even when it’s made to specifications below. Perhaps have an OTR corset set aside for those soggy situations, instead of wetting a custom/ couture corset.
  2. If your corset has multiple layers, be sure that those layers are the same fiber (e.g. cotton inner and cotton outer layers). These fabrics should preferably be pre-washed and pre-shrunk before the corset was constructed.
  3. Your steel bones need to be properly coated, galvanized, tipped or otherwise made rust-resistant.
  4. Your grommets should preferably be iron free (and also nickel free if you’re sensitive to that). The most common is brass (an alloy of copper and zinc). Some grommets are made with aluminum as well.
  5. If you are a really hardcore trainer and you’re invested in having a corset for all types of situations, and you’re also not allergic to latex or rubber, consider a rubber corset. Bizarre Design and Fantastic Rubber are both well-known for their rubber corsets. Cathie Jung and Michele Köbke both have been seen wearing ‘swimming corsets’ (although it’s not known whether Cathie has really been in the water with hers!). But know that rubber does not breathe and wouldn’t be best for your skin or your internal body temperature if you were to wear it for long hours in the hot sun.

 

Lara’s Expert Tips for Washing a Corset:

 

Don’t wash your antique corset unless you are willing to take a chance in compromising it’s strength further if not completely as well as possibly making it worse that it’s current condition. Now, when I am willing to wash a corset here is my method and what I recommend to my customers for the corsets I make them:

  1. In a basin, tub or sink – fill a few inches deep with lukewarm water and a mild soap (No woolite!). Good old Ivory bar soap, Fels-Naptha, or Orvis soap are great choices.
  2. Place corset within, and push it around a bit. Spot scrub any stained spots gently – consider the fabric before you brush or rub too hard – a brocade would not withstand harsh treatment. No need to soak. Rinse immediately – Do not wring ever.
  3. Lay out a thick dry towel and lay the open corset upon it. Roll the towel with the corset and gently press as much water from the corset as possible. Repeat with a fresh towel as needed.
  4. Hang the corset over a rod, hanger or something similar with a fan or two blowing directly upon it. This will get it dry as fast as possible and help to discourage rust from forming.

Do you swim in your corsets, wash them, or otherwise wet them regularly? Leave a comment below and let us know what steps you take to keep your corset in tip-top shape.

Dr. Oz Investigates Waist Training: My Response

On February 12, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz took on the topic of waist training for a second time in his show titled “Dr. Oz Investigates Waist Training – Is It Safe?”. I suspected this would happen, as in October you may remember that Dr. Hirschhausen (another celebrity doctor in Germany) performed the first known MRI scan on a tightlaced subject.

A month later in November, Oz’s producers contacted me about doing a second segment about waist training on the show (in which I declined to participate since I had seen his angle on it the first time).

Ann Grogan (Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry) has already responded to Dr. Oz in an open letter on her own blog, but I have also been asked by a dozen or so people to write my own response – make no mistake that I am not a medical expert, but I do believe that the results are worth talking about and sharing. I’d like this to become a conversation between the corsetry and medical industries, and for us to come to a mutual understanding that not all shapewear is the same and not all of them are suitable for all applications (including and especially waist training).

Oz’s segment can be viewed here, and I will address each concern in order.

 

First video: theoretical discussion and MRI results  

Corsets can theoretically squeeze your lungs, compress the ribs and reduce oxygen intake

This is true if the corset is not made to fit your body and deliberately tightened to reduce the size of the ribcage. It’s also more likely to be true with an overbust corset rather than an underbust, as it encases more of the ribcage. In my article about corsets, lungs and breathing, I address some common concerns and myths regarding corsets and respiratory infections. My response article to the “Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home” episode on corsets also showed that the maximum loss to the reporter’s vital capacity was about 10%, even after strapping on an overbust corset for the first time, lacing down several inches immediately (and over a bulky sweater) and then proceeding to sprint up and down a staircase repeatedly for several minutes – altogether a scenario that would have never happened in the Victorian era.

There are corsetieres who are dedicated to patterning their corsets to deliberately curve around the ribcage and accommodate the ribs instead of affecting their position, for those who find it more comfortable and prefer this silhouette. Now, it is possible to reduce the lung capacity slightly simply by the nature of pushing up the stomach and diaphragm slightly, but again this depends on the reduction held – and in many cases the temporary reduction in capacity is small enough that it would only be noticeable in situations of hard exertion, not tidal breathing (a normal breath while at rest only uses about 15% of the vital lung capacity, and many sedentary people very rarely use their full capacity).

Myself (Lucy) wearing a cupped-rib hourglass corset made by Sugarkitty, designed to compress only the waistline and not the rib cage.

Myself (Lucy) wearing a cupped-rib hourglass corset made by Sugarkitty, designed to compress only the waistline and not the rib cage.

 

Corsets can cause acid reflux

If the stomach is pushed up, heartburn is possible – especially if you eat a semi-large meal prior to lacing up (but who does that?). Corsets can exacerbate reflux in those people who already suffer from GERD (a condition caused by a loosened lower esophageal sphincter, production of too much stomach acid, hiatal hernia, abdominal obesity, etc).

Pregnancy can often cause heartburn, not only because the baby is competing for space and pushing up on the stomach, but also because the elevated hormones can cause the sphincter of the stomach to relax. Common tips given to pregnant women include eating small meals (and eating slowly), avoiding foods that are commonly known to bring on heartburn (like spicy food and caffeine), and keeping hydrated and drinking fluids throughout the day – all healthy tips that can be done anyway, and all tips that have helped corset wearers to avoid reflux as well. I eat small, regular meals by choice and I cannot remember one incident of heartburn I’ve experienced while wearing a corset.

Some may be interested to read Sarah Chrisman’s experience in how wearing a corset had helped to stop her GERD (which she previously believed was a chronic, hereditary condition that she’d have to deal with for life).

That said, if you know that you experience GERD, if you have a hernia or any other health condition, it’s always a good idea to speak with your trusted medical professional before trying a corset.

 

MRI results of a waist trainer

For contrast, I want to compare Dr. Oz’s methodology and subsequent results with the MRI results of a tightlacer on Dr. Hirschhausen’s show. On Hirschhausen’s show, Eden Berlin (the tightlacer and willing subject) wore a custom fit corset made by Tonia of Korsett Manufaktur Tomto, specially constructed with plastic synthetic whalebone instead of steel, and also nonferrous grommets so as not to react in the MRI machine. The results demonstrated how a well-fit corset does not seem to drastically affect the morphology or position of kidneys or lungs. Even her liver looked similar in shape and simply shifted upwards slightly. The only organ that got ‘trapped’ was her transverse colon, and Eden mentioned that she had been rushed in putting on the corset and lacing down 5 inches within mere minutes – she said that if she had more time to lace down slowly and properly, she may have been able to shift that colon down appropriately, as Fran Blanche describes in her tightlacing articles “The Cycle Method” and Divide and Conquer”.

 

Why corsets are not the same as stretch shapewear

I have several criticisms with the way Dr. Oz performed his version of the experiment, namely the fact that he used a rubber cincher instead of a corset. It’s understandable that they would opt for this, as 1) the rubber faja is gaining popularity as exercise gear these days, and 2) since it tends to contain no metal, it is a quick and easy ‘substitute’ for steel boned corsets.

I have been over the superficial differences between rubber cinchers and corsets before, as well as given my response regarding other types of shapewear, but this MRI experiment revealed something else to me: rubber cinchers create an even pressure over the whole torso instead of focusing the majority of the restriction at the waistline, meaning that the wearer has little control over what’s “squished” and what’s not.

Elastic latex/rubber waist cincher or faja

Lucy wearing a rubber waist cincher or faja. Although there is not as much compression as my usual corsets, what pressure IS there cannot be controlled or concentrated.

The way a stretchy rubber or neoprene faja is constructed, it is not custom-fit to the individual’s anatomy, and it’s designed to compress everywhere that it touches – from the ribcage to the hips. It will compress whatever gives the least resistance, whether that is the sides of the waistline or the front and back; whether that includes the floating ribs or not (Marianne has an article on The Lingerie Addict about different the compression feels between corsets and shapewear). Because each individual has a different amount of muscle tone or body fat percentage, because each person has very slight differences in position and size of their internal organs, because the exact amount of compression on the body is difficult to control because it fastens with hooks and not laces, it’s very difficult to predict how the outcome would look in each person. Only two days ago someone commented on my site asking if it’s normal to experience uncomfortable pressure on the back from rubber cinchers (to answer this quickly: pain is never normal; if you ever experience discomfort, the responsible thing to do is to loosen or remove the garment).

By contrast, a corset can be drafted to accommodate each person’s individual anatomy and we can control exactly where the compression is occurring and how much (0 inches, 2 inches, 4 inches) due to the adjustability of the laces.

In a custom-fit corset, there is a gradient of pressure that is maximized at the skeletal waistline (the squishy area below the ribs and above the pelvis), dissipating to zero compression up over the ribcage and down over the hips. The compression is also focused primarily laterally (on either side of the body, and not from front and back). In most cases, a strong front busk will prevent dishing or collapsing of the waistline in the front of the body, and a proper corset is also specially drafted to ensure no compression of the back, as it should support a healthy posture and maintain a proper lumbar curve. A well-fitting corset should be drafted in such a way that if the organs come into play, then the hollow membranous organs like the intestines flatten in response to the compression, and the corset should not affect the retroperitoneal organs such as the kidneys, as shown in Hirschhausen’s results.

 

Stand-up MRI imaging vs traditional reclining patient

Dr. Oz used a stand-up MRI facility to do the test, which may show a slightly different view of the organs compared to the conventional MRI scans where the patient is lying down. I believe that stand-up and positional diagnostic imaging is a fantastic tool, especially considering that most corset-wearers are standing or sitting for most of their day and not reclining – but this also means that Oz’s results cannot truly be accurately compared with Hirschhausen’s, since the position of the organs may shift slightly depending on the body’s position, with or without a corset.

My friend and fellow tightlacer Michael informed me that when internal diagnostic imaging was first discovered (e.g. X-rays where you could see the positions of solid organs like the heart and liver against less dense organs like the lungs), there were several unnecessary surgeries performed to “correct” the position of the organs. Before stand-up imaging, physicians’ only knowledge of organ positions in the human body came from examining corpses (who were obviously reclining) and from performing surgeries (where patients were also reclining), and they didn’t realize that the organs can and do slightly shift from standing to lying down.

I’m currently investigating this history further to verify the details – but it’s easy to imagine how, for instance, breasts can look incredibly different from standing to reclining even with the presence of Cooper’s ligaments keeping them relatively in place, so it’s not hard to believe that the position of the organs can also slightly shift from standing to reclining as well, despite ligaments and the visceral membrane keeping them relatively in place.

It’s not known whether Oz’s subject was scanned while standing up or lying down, as the brief video clip merely showed her “spinning” somewhat in the machine. Perhaps she wasn’t standing nor completely reclining but was at a slight incline. It is also unknown whether the angle of imaging with and without her rubber cincher had been performed at the same angle. If they had by chance been performed at different angles, this change in position may have skewed the results from the cincher.

 

Should we be scared by a grooved liver?

Dr. Oz expressed some shock upon discovering indentations in the woman’s liver caused by the ribcage – I was hoping that he would explain how such indentations would prove deleterious but unfortunately it was not mentioned (or the clip was cut short). However, indentations of the liver are not all that uncommon. Although the liver is one of the more solid organs, it is still described as pliable, and the shape and size naturally varies.

In a 1986 publication in the JPMA, the liver shapes of 500 live humans were studied via radio-colloid imaging. Over 15% of the subjects showed indentations of some kind on the liver, and these are from healthy individuals who were not wearing corsets. This is consistent with the indented livers I’ve seen in rat dissections in school. These slight variances in liver morphology are not necessarily tied with the health of the individual.

Another issue to bring to light is that organ crowding and indentations may also occur in those who are pregnant, those who have a high percentage of visceral (intra-abdominal) fat, and those who have skeletal issues like scoliosis, which shortens the torso and the amount of space for the organs within it – yet particularly in the last case, bracing a scoliosis patient often involves torso compression of a couple of inches, in the interest of stabilizing and correcting the spine – would this not further compress the organs of a person who is already experiencing compromised organ space? The history of the modern brace lies in corsetry, and research in the physiological effects of corsetry is not a vain apologist activity. More research into the functional effects of organ crowding may lead to new innovations in the medical field as well.

 

The Sforzesco brace for scoliosis

The Sforzesco brace for a scoliosis patient creates an hourglass silhouette similar to that of a corset. Click through to read more about this brace.

 

Video 2: Interview with Dr. Nicole Florence, bariatrician

Can Waist Training lead to Weight Loss?

Dr. Florence states that there is no clinical evidence that waist training can result in weight loss. That’s not for want of trying though, as a 2010 study by Wikstrand et al attempted a trial of wearing “soft corsets” for a period of 9 months to maintain weight loss – however, the results could not be properly evaluated due to low compliance (the subjects didn’t wear their corsets). I was as disappointed as the next person.

I tend to agree that weight loss is not necessarily guaranteed with the use of a corset, and the corset should not be treated as a substitute for diet or exercise (I’ve spoken at length about this before) – however, it can be seen as a non-surgical aid in many individuals. As mentioned above, I would personally be delighted to perform long-term studies on corset wearers, and rely on real data instead of anecdotes, given the funds and the opportunity. Universities and research centers may feel free to contact me if you’d like me to lead a proper trial in your facility. (I’m not kidding.)

Since Dr. Florence is a bariatrician, I would also like to study real quantifiable health risks associated with moderate corset wear as compared with gastric band surgery, where 10-20% of patients require a second procedure to correct complications, up to 30% of patients develop nutritional deficiencies / absorption disorders, and up to 33% of patients develop gallstones according to the Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, with a 53% chance of gaining the weight back within 15 years according to this 2013 study. If I were in the position to opt for either bariatric surgery or corsets, I’d personally try the corsets first, but that’s just my subjective stance.

 

Do corsets lead to eating disorders?

I have always tried to tread lightly on this subject as it is a sensitive topic for many. Dr. Florence believes that wearing corsets can create body dysmorphic disorder or distorted body image, and there was implication that the corset may become a gateway to eating disorders or more drastic body modification.

It’s my personal belief that body dysmorphia starts in the mind and then the body follows, not the other way around. Extreme weight loss associated with conditions like anorexia are the later symptoms – the physical manifestations of the psychological/ emotional struggle that has already existed in the person for months or years prior. Is it possible that some people who already have body dysmorphic disorder or eating disorders use corsets as a tool? Yes, I would say that it’s probable that some individuals use corsets for this reason, but it’s insulting to imply that all people who wear corsets are at risk of developing an eating disorder or are already there, especially as I have personally seen corsets used to help some of my friends overcome their personal body image issues and fall in love with their own body. I don’t believe that corsets cause body image issues any more than bra cutlets would contribute to delusions about one’s own natural breast size, or high heel shoes would create insecurity in one’s natural height.

 

Other health concerns mentioned

Dr. Florence says that corsets can cause pneumonia (again, I’ve written about pneumonia in this article), and that they can cause constipation (I’ve addressed this in my Corsets and Toilet Issues article, although more and more I’m hearing from viewers how abdominal compression has helped keep them regular, interestingly). She also wrote that corsets can cause chronic pain and bruising, to which I respond that if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Pain or bruising when wearing a corset is never ever ever ever normal – and if this is happening, then you are using a corset that is not the right shape for you, or you’re cinching too tight, too fast, or for too long a duration than your body is ready for.

She also mentioned that corsets can cause fainting – she erroneously stated that the origin of “fainting couches” had their origin in the Victorian era to catch women fainting from their corsets, which is known to be untrue. The Chaise Longue has existed for well over 2000 years. Corsets may have caused fainting in Victorian women if overtightened (which was not unheard of during balls and other special events), and yes corsets can affect blood pressure, but women also fainted from exhaustion, dehydration, low blood sugar, overheating and overexertion, just as many people faint today without a corset. Victorian ladies also faked fainting because it was the cool thing to do.

 

In summary, I don’t believe that Dr. Oz gave the last word or drove the nail in the coffin for waist training, but I do think it’s important to take all information into account. Recall that after Hirschhausen’s episode on corsets, I said, “I would love to repeat this MRI study with different tightlacers to see how the positions of organs change slightly depending on the individual, the silhouette of corset worn, the reduction of the corset, and how long they’ve been training.” My position hasn’t changed; on the contrary, Dr. Oz’s contribution has only strengthened my resolve.

If we’re to truly understand the physiological effects of corsetry, we need a sample size of more than 1, we need some consistency in the type of corset used (not simply *any* compression garment) and we need a consistent method of imaging.

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