Q: I have read of various means by which one might estimate the smallest corsetted waist measurement possible for an individual e.g. the circumference of the individual's upper thigh; the circumference of the neck.

1.What do you see as the governing physical factors in achieving the smallest corsetted waist?

2. Do you see any merit in these measurement tools?

3. What do you see as the important considerations in attaining a small waist, particularly where one might be inclined to apply the tightest of lacing?

I am aware of males who also tightlace.

1. In the context of corsetting, what are the physical differences between the male and female form and how might these affect the corsetting?

2. Can a male achieve the same degree of waist reduction as a female (proportionately) ?

In cases of the most extreme and ongoing tightlacing I have read how the circulation of blood (particularly to the lower body) can be affected. It has been described that this can result in short periods of weakness in the legs and even numbness in the hip area. In such cases it would seem that the body adjusts and any resultant conditions fades away. Do you have any comments?---Stephen (2/16/97)

A: The simplest way to measure a corsetted waist is just to measure! Of course you can compare with the thigh or the neck of the corsetee, but this is unscientific and meaningless. In this context, I have to point out that doubts have been raised as to whether extremely small waists below 17 inches really have existed at least in daily life. Alison Gernsheim is one of the skeptics: "Many writers have emphatically stated that Victorian women achieved an 18-inch or even a 17-inch waist. This I could
never believe. Mrs. Doris Langley Moore has disproved it by simply showing how tiny a circle a 17-inch circumference is. My assumption, that such measurements gave the nominal size of the corset, making no allowance for the gap across which the laces go, is borne out by a booklet published by a firm of corset manufacturers. The author settles the matter beyond dispute: "A distinction should be made between ACTUAL and CORSET measurements, because stays, as ordinarily worn, do not meet at the back. Young girls, especially, derive intense satisfaction from proclaiming the diminutive size of their corset. Many purchase 18 and 19 inch stays, who must leave them open 2, 3 and 4 inches". Personally I don't doubt that extremely small waists between 13 and 16 inches have been produced in reality, but very occasionally and for a short time AND the measurement must be recorded precisely and by credible witnesses."

The utmost limit for the constriction of the waist is the circumference of the vertebral column with added space for the main blood vessels, some intestines and a few other organs of vital importance connecting the upper and lower part of the body. With a narrow belt tightened just the softest part of the waist it would be theoretically possible to come down to 15 inches. But the true question for all us women who enjoy wearing corsets is: Do we at all want an ant-like figure sharply cut off in the middle over and under which bust and hips bulge out without proportion?  That seems more like a pleasure for S&M individuals than for true lovers of beauty.

The effect of lacing should certainly not be to set a record of the smallest waist in the world. We like to wear our corsets and lace ourselves into a beautifully balanced figure, with a slenderly tapered waist, well balanced against a nicely proportioned bust, and ample, well-rounded hips. The aim actually is to emphasize the feminine curves of our bodies, a goal which requires a lot of hard work at the laces and a great deal of perseverance. It is in every woman's power to attain a wonderful figure by corsetting herself and gradually applying tight-lacing over a long period of time.  "Hour-glass" means time!

Through the years many men have laced their waists. In some places of the world it used to be a tribal phenomenon, but has been practiced all over the world, and still is. The reason might be esthetic (for slimming) or orthopedic (sometimes an excuse only, though). Not uncommonly, cross-dressers or transsexuals are using corsets to develop a female body contour, or just to enjoy the firm clasp of a unique, super female type of underwear. Corsets certainly are also instrumental in S&M relations.

The lacing potential for both women and men is basically the same. A woman, however, can more easily achieve a real wasp-waist, even a stem waist. Her body is softer, less muscular, and, moreover, her ribs are more pliable and thus give away easier to the outside pressure. Her natural chest is also more cone-formed towards the waist and thus has a profile already prepared for an optimal result when it is encased into the corset. The true waist, i.e. the distance covering the so-called false ribs and the soft part of the waist, is also slightly longer a than in a man. Finally, the female pelvic bones are definitely broader and more turned out. This, together with more fatty tissue, creates larger, more rounded hips (already distinct in the nude woman), contrasting with the waist. A woman even moderately laced in a well-made corset thus immediately will enjoy a very visible improvement of her figure.

The male skeleton is rather different from the female. Most particularly, the pelvis is much more narrow and bordered by the pelvic bones, which are in a more upright position. The (normal) fatty tissue in a male is much less developed and, moreover, distributed in a masculine pattern. The male hips thus will not give an immediately good contrast even to a well laced small waist. A man must submit to substantially tighter lacing to achieve a female type of figure, as the preconditions are less favourable.

Theoretically, a belt on a male waist can be tightened just as much as on the female but, even so, his more robust and larger vertebral column sets a lower limit for constriction in a male.  In conclusion, a male has substantial difficulties in attaining the perfect and balanced wasp waist form. Whereas even an older lady can transform her body properly without too much suffering, a prerequisite for the male is to start very early, when the body and ribs still are pliable.

Of course, the circulation of blood to the lower part of the body might be interfered with by very tight lacing, but this is most unusual in healthy subjects. The phenomenon of weakness in the legs and numbness in the hips is not related to this. Many women who once, like myself, rushed too fast into the strictest and tightest lacing have had this unpleasant experience, which is related to the pressure on the skin nerves in both the waist and the hip area. The pain, often arising in the afternoon, might first be unbearable, but after untightening the laces (but keeping the corset on), the pain will decrease and eventually disappear. After several months, all symptoms have usually gone. Another symptom sometimes met by the beginner is a feeling of instability in the back, as well as cramps and tensions in the increasingly inactivated muscles. The remedy is corsets with sufficiently strong back boning, with rather broad flat steels. In case of acute problems, tightening of the laces is recommended to maximize the rigidity of the corset and totally immobilize the muscles. The pain or discomfort will finally disappear when the muscular supporting function is completely taken over by the corset steels, and when you have learnt to relax and just droop down in your corset.


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