Q: I have been interested in corseting for a while now. I do occasionally wear an off-the-rack corset because I like the feel of the corset against me and I've always liked the way that corsets looked on other people. I just had to try one for myself, and I loved the way that it looked! Now I am looking into purchasing a custom made corset. However I have one worry: I have a mild degree scoliosis. I have a 22 degree curve and saw a doctor about my back from about age ten to age eighteen. I've never suffered from any back pain, nor has the curvature of my spine changed since I was thirteen years old. I was informed at age eighteen that since I had no problems, and my back hadn't gotten any worse, that I no longer needed to see a doctor about the problem. I was concerned that possibly wearing a corset for any length of time might have some bad effects on my back. Is it possible that wearing a corset, even a custom made one, could cause back pain or possibly make my spine worse? I would like to wear a corset on occasion, possibly even for a few hours a day. I doubt that I would ever tightlace or try waist-training, since I also play the flute and need my lungs and diaphragm to function normally without being restricted. Naturally I have never worn a corset while playing the flute and I don't plan on doing so. So will wearing a corset even for a few hours or so a day be hard on my back and cause problems for me? Or would it be all right to wear one as long as it was custom made and worn only for short periods of time? --- Joanna (2/17/98)

A: It might interest you that I, myself, was put into corsets as a teenager because of a slight scoliosis and I have been in them almost ever since! You did not tell your present age, but there is no doubt that, being without symptoms, your scoliosis is now stabilized and the wearing of a corset will be harmless and cause no pain. On the contrary, it probably will give you a good feeling of support, needed or not. Anyhow, if inconvenient, just loosen the laces or unclasp the busk and take off your corset. If you want to lace tightly occasionally, or more permanently, of course you can do that. Regarding your ability to play the flute, I understand your concern. However, even if the lacing of the waist will impair the function of the diaphragm due to the degree of compression, it is well known that the rib cage will be lifted and the upper parts of the lungs will distend, giving compensation. Corsetting would thus not be a problem for your playing a wind instrument but, of course, the decision is yours. And don't forget that also, a laced woman can -- and should -- perform physical exercises. Finally, I would emphasize that custom made corset always are better than the-off-the-rack ones.


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