Corset training, also known as waist training, figure training and the more familiar tightlacing, is a method of body modification. The waist (primarily) and the torso are sculpted using external pressure produced by a tightly laced corset. The waist and surrounding area are very gradually reduced over a period of months as the body slowly conforms to the shape of the corset. The wearer should feel comfortable at all times and any discomfort is a sign that the corset is too tight. As a general rule it should feel like a tight hug but not a breathless squeeze. It is very important to gradually progress with reduction as sudden extreme reductions can cause great discomfort, fainting, indigestion, muscle spasms and cramps (I speak from experience!) and breathlessness. Let me dispel the myth that corset training involves suffering on any level, wearing a corset should feel comfortable, unrestrictive and downright sexy! It’s common to forget you’re wearing one (unless you pass a mirror and get a glimpse of those accentuated curves of yours!).
Now as to time scale, reduction can be affected by fat mass and abdominal muscle strength as both lengthen the process, but in general an inch a month is the norm up to around six inches, after which each extra inch can take a whole year to achieve. The corset also needs to be worn for at least 12 hours a day, with most dedicated tightlacers practising a 23/7 rule – only taking the corset off to bathe and only loosening it to sleep, but its up to you to decide how far to take it, if your not enjoying it ease up. I’ve covered correct methods of lacing etc in other posts.
It’s also a common assumption (or just wishful thinking) that corset training for a few months can permanently reduce your waist size. Unfortunately it can’t, although it can be used as a dieting tool (which I’ll go into further in later posts) and worn for a number of years will keep you thinner than you naturally would have been had you never worn a corset. However even dedicated tightlacers with years of waist training under their belt (bad pun) report that after only an hour unlaced their waists have expanded to a degree. This is because the soft tissues have only been displaced and not eradicated. Corset training does however have a semi permanent effect on the shape of your rib cage, which sounds scarier than it is, promise! The ribs are very flexible and will take on the conical shape of the corset over time. They will slowly return to normal shape if corset training is ceased completely, but it is easy to maintain rib shape with reduced corset wear. As for health issues, no medical evidence has been found to prove that even the extreme corset training of the Victorian era had negative health effects for those that practised it – and I’ve looked good and hard for it. The internal organs are moved around to a large degree but still function perfectly, in fact they are put under greater strain during pregnancy and this may be why the female body suffers no ill effects from corset training. I’ll go into the physical effects in detail in a later post.
Other topics I’ll be covering are: making corsets, corset dresses, burlesque corsets and Cathie Jung and other famous tightlacers. ©
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Cathie Jung the ‘Queen of corsets’ holds the Guinness World Record for ‘the smallest waist on a living person’ and has done since 1999. Cathie is 5’6”, weighs 135 lbs and has a 39 – 15 – 39 figure. She’s also a grandmother, a pensioner and a wife. Cathie still does the house work, travels and goes swimming (in a specially made corset swimsuit of course). “I do everything that I want to do. I eat fairly small meals but I prefer that at my age anyway. I find it tricky sitting in low chairs and sometimes in restaurants I have to sit on the high chairs at the bar.”
To reach her breath taking 15 inch waist size Cathie has been wearing corsets 23/7 since 1983, that’s 25 years. She put on her first corset for her wedding day in 1959 and now has more than a hundred.
Cathie’s waist is about the same size as a jar of mayonnaise or the circumference of a CD but Cathie insists there is no negative health effect – in fact her husband, an orthopaedic surgeon, seconds this; “Bob has carried out X-rays on me and says the corset actually helps support my spine.”
Her waist has brought her the fame and glamour of TV interviews and invitations to various fashion events and parties. This sterling silver corset was custom made for her to wear to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts costume party for the opening of a Versace show.
Cathie’s most recent TV appearance was about 3 years ago when she appeared on ‘This Morning’ – click the picture above for the You Tube video.