Physical & Social Benefits of Wearing Corsets
*Physical Benefits of wearing a corset: Corsets help control back pain and correct posture, to help those with past injuries (e.g. car accidents, vertebral fractures, slipped discs), to neurological disorders (e.g. tics, ataxia) and wear and tear injuries (e.g. osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease) and autoimmune disorders (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia).
*Corsets may prevent scoliosis patients from worsening of their curvature once they no longer have a brace, or they may be used to prevent back pain from the curve. Some experienced corsetieres have even designed corrective corsets that may help to reduce the curve over time.
* By extension, correct posture also helps prevent other skeletal issues. One viewer has experienced relief from her plantar fasciitis while wearing a corset because of the redistribution of her weight on her feet. I have experienced considerable pressure taken off my knees since wearing corsets (bad knees run in my family), as corsets have changed the way I sit and stand, and encourage me to keep my hips level.
* Corsets have also been known to reduce the intensity of headaches or migraines, and over time, some wearers have noticed that the corset has stop their headaches completely as proper posture can take tension off the neck and shoulders. Also, by potentially reducing the hyperlordosis in the lumbar spine, a properly-fitting corset can act as an orthopedic traction unit to prevent the spinal cord from being pinched or stretched (thereby preventing or helping to improve nerve problems).
* Corsets are used as lumbar support to prevent potential back injuries and give support during work — e.g. during heavy lifting, repeated tasks or long hours on one’s feet, or in front of a computer. This has been known to benefit those working trade careers like plumbing and automechanics, those in retail who lift stock or stand for many hours, and those in the medical and nursing fields when having to lift patients, etc.
* Those who have hypermobilility or connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome sometimes experience injury due to weakness and hyperextension in their joints, and they may also experience chronic pain. Wearing a corset has helped some of these people by bracing the torso and preventing spontaneous movements that could lead to sprains, dislocations or other injuries.
* Corsets are sometimes used by singers as a support; they provide resistance against which the diaphragm can push, which may help the singer achieve higher or more powerful notes.
* Two women have mentioned that wearing a corset has helped improve their asthma. The upper lungs and bronchi may not be fully open or utilized with very poor posture, and correcting posture using a corset may help to open up the chest, relax the windpipe and allow easier breathing. *asthmatics please consult with your doctor before trying a corset, as not everyone has the same experience.
* Corsets can also help to protect the organs during horse-riding or motorcycling, acting like a kidney belt to prevent bruising of the retroperitoneal organs.
* Corsets are helpful in minimizing menstrual cramps in women. Many women temporarily relieve their dysmenorrhea by lying in the fetal position, which exerts pressure on the peritoneal organs and somewhat diminishes the painful uterine contractions. Corsets can mimic this position by exerting pressure on these same organs, reducing uterine contractions (and thus cramping) while her posture remains erect.
* Corsets can prevent some types of abdominal hernias by exerting external pressure on the abdomen, or may act like a girdle to prevent pre-existing hernias from worsening while the wearer waits for surgical repair. *NB: this may only help specific types of abdominal hernias, and results may vary – misuse of the corset may result in worse hernias in the case of hiatal/inguinal/femoral hernias. Always consult a doctor before trying a corset for any reason.
* If extensive injury to the abdominal wall has already occurred (from automotive accidents, surgeries or procedures like colostomies, etc.) and the muscles are unable to heal properly, corsets may provide a source of protection and can help increase the intra-abdominal pressure to prevent the muscles from collapsing.
* Corsets can sometimes help to correct diastasis recti, the separation of the abdominal muscles that some experience during their last term of pregnancy, if the corset is used post-partum to hold the muscles together and prevent them from separating further while they heal together again. *again, please check with your OB/GYN to see if compression wear is appropriate for you after childbirth.
* For those who have ligament disorders that may affect the position of the stomach and liver, a well-fitting corset can lift up and support these organs and prevent “floating” or dropped liver (hepaptosis).
* Corsets may be used as a weight loss aid – they act as an external gastric band and do not allow much expansion of the stomach, thus helping to control appetite and reduce food portions. Wearing a corset can also help the wearer to see themselves as a smaller person, ‘planting the seed’ of belief in their minds that weight loss is achievable, and acting as a strong motivation for these wearers to improve their nutrition and fitness regimen.
* Corsets give some women an hourglass shape that they may never be able to achieve naturally (through diet and exercise). Medications like steroids, or conditions like thyroid abnormalities or PCOS can make weight loss nearly impossible for some. On the other end of the spectrum, some patients with hyperthyroidism, pituitary issues, extremely fast metabolisms, or muscle wasting conditions may find it difficult or impossible to put on weight. However, the use of corsets can make it possible for women in both these situations to temporarily experience more of an hourglass shape even if their current gene expression or health situation dictates otherwise.
* Corsets can change a wearer’s figure semi-permanently through changes in muscle and fat pad morphology. Many athletic women use corsets to make their waists smaller. Female body builders have used corsets to reduce the size of their waists so they will have a more competitive edge in fitness competitions. Ex-professional swimmers have also used corsets after their careers to help reverse the effect of the “Swimmers’ barrel chest” and give them back the smaller ribcage they had before swimming.
* In those who have slow bowels/ constipation issues, the pressure of wearing a corset can sometimes stimulate the intestines and may allow a brief increase in peristalsis immediately after taking off the corset, making it easier to have a bowel movement. In those who have issues with diarrhea or fast bowels, wearing a corset snugly can sometimes slow down peristalsis, possibly lengthening the time between bowel movements.
*This doesn’t work the same way for everyone – if you already experience abdominal pain, bloating or irregularity, ask your doctor before you’d like to try corseting.
Benefits with Societal Impact in Regards to Corseting Corsets improve a person’s carriage and give the wearer a certain poise – the air of confidence, high self-esteem and assertiveness, whether or not they may feel confident that day. This body language – straight posture, chest high, shoulders back – silently demands respect from others. The corseted may notice that colleagues may start to treat him/her with more respect, and over time s/he may become accustomed to this better treatment or even come to command respect, whether or not they’re wearing the corset.
Many clinically underweight women have been able to overcome their eating disorders and learn to celebrate their bodies and embrace their curves (figuratively and literally) by wearing a corset. Many have gained and maintained a healthy weight, since their girth and eating habits are “controlled” by the corset. Corsets can boost the self-image of those with low self esteem, and encourage a greater notion of self-worth by affecting the posture and not allowing the wearer to “apologize for their existence” (in the words of Sarah Chrisman) – this can apply to those with poor body image, those who have been emotionally abused and made to feel “less than”, or otherwise.
Many people simply revel in owning a custom, personal luxury item. Corsets are one of the most personalized luxuries, as many corsetieres take no less than 14 measurements of the body to ensure the corset perfectly fits the wearer. A corset will be exclusively made for the owner and no one else, both in fit and in fabric/embellishment specifications, and is often one of a kind. The knowledge that a person owns a piece like none other in the universe can figuratively lift the owner out of mediocrity, helping to separate them from the rest of society in their mind, and filling a certain need to be a “special snowflake.”
Custom designed or custom fit corsets are usually much more than a typical $20 sweatshop item that you purchase from the local department store. By commissioning a custom corset particularly from a local corsetiere, you are helping an artist develop their craft; you are allowing a small business to stay alive in the face of giant corporations, and you are supporting your local economy. You can feel good knowing that you’re helping other families directly and your community indirectly, and you still have the same opportunity to experience all the physical, mental, emotional, and other social benefits to corseting. It’s win-win.
Perhaps the most prominent would be the fact that women today are liberated and empowered to wear what they like. In Western culture, women are not forced to comply with hard fashion rules; they are free to choose what to wear and what not to wear, in almost any combination. (This is why I love corsets paired with trousers!) Feminists who wear corsets are quite common, and are quite aware of a superficial sense of irony, but it all comes down to expressing oneself in the way one sees fit.
Many of history’s influential women (like Susan B Anthony, who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women’s rights movement, and Harriet Tubman, who also supported the women’s suffrage) proudly wore corsets, sometimes quite tightly, as their fashion bore no constitution to their legal recognition as persons with equal rights. Moreover, men have worn corsets throughout history (including King George IV of the UK, Andy Warhol, and President John F. Kennedy) and still proudly wear corsets today as the corset is not solely a symbol of femininity, but of protection, poise and power.