Heidi's Waist Training Journey
Every one of us who laces up a corset, be it on a single occasion or on a daily basis, has a story. Some of us reap the benefits of an instant silhouette shift, others hope to see a permanent change in their physique, and others still simply bask in the sensation of a warm corset hug. It is an arguably uncommon journey that brings us to that place, where we don a corset for the first time. And after that, it only tends to grow more fascinating. This is my story.
I was 21 when I moved a thousand miles from my family and now-husband for a semester-long internship in Texas. It was September of 2011, and the day I arrived was the final day of the “100 days of 100 degrees” in the central part of the state. I watched wildfires manifest spontaneously in the median of the interstate on the way.
With sub-par body image, in mediocre health, and disconnected from any semblance of a social support system, I found myself at an unexpectedly low point in my young life. The only solution I could conceive was to make myself lesser; or at least markedly less noticeable. But the degree to which I cowered behind my own intangible shield was all the more conspicuous.
Somehow, though I don’t recall the path, my desire to grow smaller led me to discovering corsets. Well, certainly I was aware of the garment before, but this was the first time I learned that such steel-boned contraptions were still in use; and that I could order a custom one for myself! It was the Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry site that proved my first source of knowledge on the subject. The more I read, the more I was convinced that a corset would be the “solution” to my concerns. Perhaps this waist training thing would be what made me feel good enough. Despite being a relatively logical person, at 5’ 5”, 120 pounds, and with a 27” waist, I couldn’t imagine accepting what I was.
It was October when the corset arrived. I was somehow surprised that it was able to be comfortably shipped in a little Tyvek envelope – the package seemed so small. Did they send the correct item? When I opened it, it was just what I ordered: a simple black underbust by Jill Hoverman of Romantasy, sized to close at 22”.
The moment that I first laced up was probably one of the most important of my life. My ribs protested. My eyes grew wide. The corset was tightened by less than a single inch. What had I gotten myself into? But I liked it. This was the first time I had felt an embrace by anyone or anything in months, and I felt just a little bit more alive right then than I had the day before.
With time, my corset and I became more familiar with each other. It began to conform perfectly to my shape while simultaneously providing me with a new one. I started wearing it about my apartment, then out for groceries, and then beneath my clothing to a full day at my internship. If I could have mastered sleeping in a corset so soon, I would have lived in it right from the start. It felt safe. It was my armor.
Later that year I got engaged. Then I ordered a 20” corset. In early 2012 I began blogging about it.
Wearing a corset had, in a short period of time, progressed far beyond a way to change my body into some nonexistent ideal. While I did realize a two inch reduction in my natural waist size in a mere six months of about 60 hours of waist training per week, it was the way in which it began to reform my thinking that made the most difference. Always an anxious young woman, suddenly I was finding solace in the pressure that a corset placed on my midsection. The world did not give way around me, but I did grow mentally flexible enough to absorb its blows. More importantly, I began to accept myself despite and in spite of all of my seemingly disgraceful flaws. Both in and out of the corset.
I learned patience and diligence and forgiveness. Being able to pardon my body for fluctuating in size or weight was a momentous threshold to cross. And corsetry helped me to cope, reminding me that the human form is so malleable and adaptive that to shame it for this ability is a grave offense against nature itself. An entire change in my attitude toward life was inspired by this simple steel-boned garment, as inconceivable as it may seem.
What more, in corsetry I found myself inexplicably passionate – it was something I never thought I would experience regarding any subject. I wanted to understand every facet of how to properly shape one’s body with a corset, the history that brought them to us in their modern form, and even how to construct them myself.
The more I learned, the more I wanted to share my joy and experiences. This is what stirred me to begin blogging and, later, to create a website meant to support other corset enthusiasts along their own journeys. It’s what inspired me to learn corset patterning and corset making for my own purposes, as well as others. How could I possibly hoard away what I’ve discovered when it might be worth sharing with even one other person? I wouldn’t have been able to hold back, even if I so desired.
Some of my most compelling memories include being laced up: reuniting with missed friends, receiving the offer for my current job, delivering a commencement speech upon graduating from university, marrying my life partner, bearing the pall of a family matriarch. The list goes on. Corsets did not make these moments possible; they only acted as a kind of punctuation on the occasions. Certainly, though, their inclusion made the experiences more potent.
Now, looking back, I find myself wondering how the years have passed so quickly, and how it is even possible that I’ve found my way to where I am now: healthy, vibrant, and fulfilled. This garment, which I had originally found myself drawn to as a tool with which to shrink myself, instead has become a way to enlarge my sphere of existence.
Certainly I’ve thoroughly covered the mental/emotional changes that came with introducing corsetry into my life. But what about quantitative physical changes? What about numbers? Keep in mind that my results are unique to me, and that they cannot be used as an example of the “average” change one could expect by engaging in waist training. It is also worth noting that some of the changes to my physique have come as a consequence of my specific approach athletic training and nutrition.
Before waist training (September 2011)
Body Fat: 25%
Natural waist: 26-27”
Full hip: 40”
Body Fat: 20%
Natural waist: 25”
Preferred Corset Size: 19-20"
Full hip: 38”
The outcome of years of waist training are, for me, not nearly as dramatic as those of some others, but it is important to acknowledge that “results may vary”. In some cases the reward of diligent waist training isn’t a dramatically smaller uncorseted waist. Sometimes it’s the ability to accept higher corseted reductions without trouble; better poster both in and out of a corset; an enhanced self-image; or the discovery of a true passion. But I doubt that there is anyone who has attempted waist training in a proper steel-boned corset that has not experienced some positive change. It may not always be visible, but the ways in which our corsets can change us for the better have the potential to be profound.