First off, I have to apologize to the September and October book winners—it turns out that we moved my website around in anticipation of rebuilding it—and my firstname.lastname@example.org email got cut off. SO! Joanna B—please email me again!
Plus, last month’s winner of The Nanny Plan was Tanya Bee! Tanya, email me with your address!!
Again, so sorry that modern technology wasn’t my friend there.
Okay! Now, onto today’s blog!
*Psst* I have a little secret to tell you:
I’m wearing a corset. Right now.
Making that sort of statement out of nowhere gets me one of two reactions. First, people are worried that I’m harming my body to fit into some weird hourglass shape. They ask about permanent harm to my internal organs or weakening my core muscles.
The other common reaction is much simpler: Why? Why would anyone voluntarily lace up into what, as far as most people know, was an instrument of feminine torture for centuries?
To both, I basically say the same thing: It’s not what you think.
I came to corsets in a very roundabout way—I was in constant pain. I sit at a desk all day long, typing. Which is great! I love writing and I love telling my stories. It’s good for my brain! But not always my body.
I follow the blog Epbot—Jen Yates is an awesome geeky person—and she did a massive blog on why she’d started wearing a corset. And—surprise!—it had nothing to do with reshaping her body. (Read her blog for her excellent discussion and breakdown of corsets for casual wear. It’s worth it.)
The pain I mentioned earlier?
It was from sitting in my chair, all day long, with my upper body curved like a C and my legs out straight. My back, neck and shoulder muscles were messed up and no amount of manipulation or massage could keep them straight for long. True fact: every year for at least a couple of decades, I’ve resolved to have better posture. But shockingly, it hasn’t happened all by itself!
So after reading Epbot, I bought a corset and laced into that sucker and you know what? The relief was INSTANTANEOUS. I couldn’t slouch in a C, so I sat up straight, which pulled my legs in. Within a week, my massage therapist was commenting on how much better my midback was. My ribs stopped popping out of joint (yes, it’s a problem).
Now this is where I point out the difference between how I wear a corset and the kind of corsetry that will, in fact, damage your ribs and internal organs. That kind of corsetry is called “tight-lacing” and the people who tight-lace are in it for the waist-whittling properties of a corset. Yes, you can lace down so much that you can’t breath or sit or do anything. If anything, my corsets are loose simply because I sort of need to be able to breath while sitting.
Another difference between old-fashioned corsets and what I wear daily in my office is the sheer amount of corset. Old-fashioned corsets came down over the hips–way, WAY over the hips. Plus, corsets were both over shifts and then under massive dresses. The sheer weight of it all had to be stunning. Throw in a hot, crowded ballroom and it’s no wonder ladies fainted all the time!
(Although now that I wear corsets, I do enjoy seeing which historical authors have done their corset research…but that’s another blog!)
If you look at my corsets, you can see that they do not come all the way over the hips but instead, sit above the hipbone. Again, that’s that whole sitting thing. I need help to make sure I sit up straight—but I don’t want or need steel bars (no more whalebone!) digging into me. If it’s not comfortable, why would anyone do it?
And as for the concern that I’m weakening my core muscles by relying on a corset instead of, you know, sitting up straight—well, here’s the thing. The thing is pain. The way my body works is that one group of muscles are unable to cope with the me-ness that is me and a corresponding group of muscles does double duty trying to pick up the slack. This is the fact of my physiology, as medically verified by my pain-management doctor. So for me, corsets are actually giving those overworked muscle groups a break and helping the underworked muscles stretch out more. It’s crazy—but it’s true!
Most of my corsets are underbust and I just wear them over my regular clothes. In the winter, I normally layer anyway, so I’ll have on a t-shirt, a corset, and a sweater. I only wear them when I’m in my office writing. Every one of my corsets is from Orchard Corset. They’re amazingly affordable—perfect for starting out—and their blogs are a wealth of information on how to corset in today’s modern age.
What are the side effects? Well, I have really great cleavage when I’m wearing a corset—and, since I only wear them when I’m writing, which is during business hours, that cleavage is COMPLETELY wasted on the dogs. They truly don’t appreciate it at all.
In the summer, it can get hot—which is why I bought a mesh corset. It’s not as tight as the all-fabric ones, but it keeps me mostly in line. And sometimes I answer the door when I’m wearing a wild corset/shirt color combo and accidentally freak out a neighbor. Sorry! I do keep a cardigan handy just so the cleavage is under control.
As I’ve started wearing them more, I’ve started buying more. They’re so pretty! So then I started incorporating them into my Professional Author Look—yeah, that one. At the conferences I’ve been to, people are really surprised to see one. Plus we’ve started steampunking and look! I had all these corsets ready to go!
So what do you think? Would you ever wear a corset on a regular basis? I’ll pick one random commenter to win a copy of His Son, Her Secret! And this time, I’ll actually GET the email, I promise!