Medical Question #C

MEDICAL ADVICE FROM

DR. HELEN STERN


Q: Is there a physical explanation for the euphoric feeling that accompanies the compression of the waist? Another effect appears to be increased alertness ---TJB-Overtone (3/1/97).

A: There is very little serious research on the topics you are raising, although both your questions are very interesting. I have to admit that my answer is less based on real research than on subjective assumptions, conclusions from the literature and my own experiences from years of corset-wearing.

The lacing procedure, as well as the degree of compression, create a number of complex feelings, from mild well-being to an outspoken euphoria. All of them are based on a mixture of physical and mental impressions. Thus, the just-laced woman clasped in her corset standing in front of her mirror enjoys and admires her artificially induced curves, which accentuate her female figure or exaggerate it with a wasp waist: bulging hips and an uplifted, protruding bust. She feels very well in her compact figure, fingers the nickel-plated studs and hooks of the busk, feels the glossy corset fabric, and slides her hands over the narrow waist and down over the hips. The few women who lace themselves today certainly experience such a euphoric auto-eroticism, whereas fewer did in former days, when many more or less grew up in corsets, at that time an absolutely compulsory and every-day part of female dress.

Except for the self-admiration of her figure, I think that the physical background of euphoria comes from the corsetted woman's strong feeling of being safely and strongly supported. The steels and busk of a tightly laced corset actually act as a scaffold around the torso and take over a lot of the work normally done by the back muscles. The stiffness of the corset and the compression of the waist might initially be disturbing, but, once fully accustomed to, the wearer will be very comfortably relaxed in her rigid panoply of cloth and steel. Those of us who have been laced to a wasp waist for many years know that the corset finally will become almost indispensable, as the back muscles, lacking exercise, will weaken, and become unable to keep the body in a good upright position. If you, for some reason, would try to get rid of your stays, forget about it! Only after a few hours, the back will start to hurt relentlessly and beg for its hard but comfortable shell. Karl Lagerfeld, talking about corsets, once pointed out that when they became less fashionable it wasnīt a question just of throwing them away - most women couldn't do without them, and it took a generation to change the habit.

Thus, I believe that the comfortable feeling of support, together with a beautiful and feminine improvement of the figure, underlie corset euphoria.  But there are also additional effects: The corset affects your body movements, depending on the degree of waist compression.  If moderately laced, you will be forced to swing your hips when walking. The tighter the corset, the more your waist has been compressed and lengthened, and the bigger the difference between waist and hips, the more strongly this lateral movement, involuntarily adding to a special, sexy, superior feeling of utmost femininity.

The more or less exhibitionistic and/or masochistic lady may find a deep pleasure in being laced to the utmost, with an extremely narrow and lengthened stem waist. Such waists are most probably carried permanently. In these cases we are talking about quite different goals, where pain and not beauty is the most important issue.

I agree that lacing of the waist increases your alertness. This phenomenon has occasionally been mentioned in the literature, without satisfactory explanations. Some have indicated that it could be caused by a corset-induced increase of the blood-flow to the brain. I donīt believe that at all. As a corset wearer, you know that breathing with your diaphragm is impaired or even impossible. Instead, you are involuntarily restricted to breathing with the upper part of the lungs, which may increase your chest movements.  However, again, I think that the major physical explanation of your feeling of increased alertness lies in the support which you get from your corset, as long as it is tightly (but not too tightly) laced - at least not more than you can endure during a full day of compression. On the contrary, the little lady squeezed and turned to the utmost into a wooden puppet in her too tightly laced wasp-waist corset will certainly be more frail and pale than alert.

I may not have given you a very complete answer - as I already said, much research has still to be done.

(3/7/97)-C


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