Modern tightlacing is
a minority interest, often
in the corset and
BDSM. The majority of
tightlacers are women, although
some men do tightlace
corsetier Mr Pearl has a nineteen-inch waist.
Tightlacers typically wear a corset for at least 12 hours a day, every day, when they are most active, although some tightlacers wear corsets for up to 23 hours a day, taking the corset off only in order to bathe.
Tightlacers usually have a partner, called a trainer, to help and support them. However, it is possible (although very difficult) for somebody to tightlace without a partner. (Tightlacers are often but not necessarily in a sexual and/or loving relationship with their trainer.)
A partner might take on any of the following tasks:
- help the tightlacer put on and take off the corset, especially tightening the laces
- help him or her follow through with the training schedule
- monitor the tightlacer's health
- monitor body changes and keep a log
Effects of tightlacing on the body
Contemporary tightlacers claim that tightlacing does not adversely affect the health, as was believed in the later Victorian era. Certainly, there are no contemporary medical sources condemning tightlacing, and the continued good health of modern day extreme tightlacers would seem to demonstrate that the practice is not dangerous if properly done.
A safe training routine begins with the use of a well-fitted corset (most serious tightlacers have at least one custom tailored corset) and very gradual decreases in the waist circumference. Lacing too tight too fast can cause extreme discomfort and potential short-term problems such as shortness of breath and faintness, indigestion, and chafing of the skin.
The primary effect of tightlacing is the decreased size of the waist. The smallest waist recorded is that of Ethel Granger, who tightlaced for most of her life and achieved a waist of thirteen inches: a reduction of over ten inches. Such extreme reductions take a very long time to achieve. At first, corsets with waist measurements four inches smaller than the tightlacer's natural waist size are recommended. The length of time it will take a tightlacer to get used to this reduction will vary on his or her physiology; a large amount of fat on the torso and strong abdominal muscles will mean that it takes longer for the tightlacer to wear their corset laced closed at the back. Thereafter, reducing another couple of inches is not much more difficult, but each inch after a six-inch reduction can take a year to achieve.
The diminished waist and tight corset reduce the volume of the torso. This is sometimes reduced even further by styles of corset that force the torso to taper towards the waist, which pushes the lower ribs inwards. As a consequence, internal organs are moved closer together and out of their original positions in a way similar to the way that a pregnant woman's expanding uterus causes the organs to be displaced.
The volume of the lungs diminishes and the tightlacer tends to breathe intercostal that is, with the upper portion of the lungs only, rather that the whole. Intercostal breathing is what gives the image of "heaving bosoms". Due to the lower portion of the lungs being used less there is often a mucosal build-up there; a slight and persistent cough is the sign of the body trying to clear this (and might also have led to the Victorian hypothesis that corsets caused tuberculosis).
The liver is pressed upwards. As it continually renews itself, it adapts to fit its new position, and in a long-term tightlacer it can develop ridges where it rests against the ribs. It is also possible that tightlacing exacerbates the tendency of some livers to develop accessory lobes, to the point where the accessory lobe becomes as large as the main portion of the liver. The point where the lobe and liver connect can be quite thin, and again, this might have led to one of the Victorian myths about tightlacing: that a tightlacer can wear her corset so tight that it "cuts" her liver in half.
The compression of the stomach reduces its volume, and tightlacers find that eating too much gives them indigestion and heartburn; foods like carbonated drinks and beans can easily cause trapped wind. The compression of the intestines can cause constipation. Many tightlacers will alter their diet in order to avoid these problems.
Few permanent and serious effects have been attributed to tightlacing; even fewer of them have been proved. Theoretically, it is possible to fracture the ribs through tightlacing, although the necessary pressure would be brutal and the tightlacer would feel acute pain certainly enough to let him/her know that something was wrong and that he/she should loosen the corset.
|The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/tightlacing 1/14/06|