Confessions in Corsetry

I once had dinner with Madonna and I wasn’t nervous but within about a minute I found myself talking about underwear. ~ Randy Newman

Just under twelve months ago, I squeezed a person out of myself.

Let’s just think about that for a minute.

Are you done?

Oh, sorry.

Now are you done? Okay.

I keep reading things written by doctors and other mommies and “experts” and such that say I am a goddess, bringer forth of life, that my curves and scars and inconvenient fatty deposits are battle wounds and I should be proud of them.


Oh my god! She doesn’t have a FACE. (Photo by Don Hitchcock)

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that we are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Well, I am anyway, and most especially so when it comes to body image issues. I know that I’m slim, that I’m generally pretty well-shaped, and that (if I do say so myself) I have a particularly fine set of legs.

But when I look into the mirror, I only see the things that I’m not happy with. I see a complexion that hasn’t been acne-free since I was thirteen. I see a … let’s call it a strong nose. And I see the place where my waist would be, if I had one.

I never did have much of a waist. My torso always proceeded in a more or less straight line from my ribs down to my hips, especially after I gained my “I’m in my mid-20’s now” weight. I also always realized that I was MUCH more aware of it than anybody else was, and therefore didn’t worry too much about it.

Now, while I was pregnant, my mid-section was my favorite part of myself. I felt beautiful with my burgeoning belly sticking out in front of me. It helped that I was really lucky and didn’t gain much weight anywhere else: as I was told repeatedly, I was “all baby.”

But since I squeezed that little person out of myself, I’ve looked at that whole section of my body differently.

In the months after Baby arrived, I still rather liked my mid-section, largely because it was so obliging in its shrinkage. The skinny-skinny genes from my mother’s side kicked in and I lost my baby weight with no muss and no fuss.

But then it sort of … plateaued.

The numbers on the scale say that I weigh just about exactly what I did before I got pregnant, but my middle is still … fluffy? Hmm, how to describe it … well, let’s just say that Baby likes to poke it and watch his finger disappear. He also likes to slap it and watch it jiggle.

This is unacceptable.

“Ah,” you say to yourself. “I see where this is going. This is going to be about diet and exercise, and Kathy is going to publicly announce her determination to start a weight-loss regime! The blogging is to help her to stay accountable!”

Well, yeah, I mean, I could try that.

I hate exercising, though. And dieting? I definitely don’t have the discipline for that.

So instead, when I wanted to look pretty for a staged reading not too long ago, I bought a girdle.

They called it a ‘waist-cincher’ on the tag, but I know what it really is. It’s a girdle. Like what your grandmother wore. Scary old lady underwear that nobody has worn since the sixties, when the hippies made wearing underwear at all into something only the un-groovy oppressors did.

And guys? This thing is GREAT.

It isn’t that it gives me a tiny waist like the corsets in Gone With The Wind. It just sort of gives me shape where there wasn’t any before. To be more explicit: it gives me a waist, which combined with my lovely, lactating, larger-than-ever-before boobies, equals va-va-va-VOOM.

Not this.


I want to wear it all the time. I mean, yes, it would suck in hot weather, and the boning can be a little uncomfortable if you try to slouch. But it makes me feel SO. SEXY.

And there’s the voice inside my head that says that I shouldn’t care so much about how I look, that our culture has socialized me to estimate my own value based on superficial gender norms which aren’t realistic, that I’m a goddess, blah blah blah. That’s my feminist voice, and even it had to stop a moment, mouth agape, and stare at the femme fatale in the mirror.

So I suspect that I might be buying another one. Or three. Maybe I can start a trend and single-handedly bring old lady underwear back in.

Hell, anything is better than exercising, right?

What sort of things have you done to help you come to terms with your body?

8 responses to “Confessions in Corsetry

  1. You couldn’t be more right about exercise.

    • Thanks! I’m glad I’m not the only one who just hates it. I hate the repetition of it, and I hate being all sweaty and smelly. Maybe I just haven’t found my exercise niche. In the meantime, I’ll buy scary underwear and eat cream puffs to make myself feel better. Thanks for dropping in!

  2. I am glad you blogged about this for I too have had the consideration popping into my mind to invest in a good old fat sucker cincher and pull in my rather unimpressive baby wastage waist…….I shall swiftly go out to ye olde lingerie shoppe and buy me a girdle and pray to God it works wonders for my mid-drift (drift being the operative word) thanks, much lovage 🙂

    • I bought my girdle online. If I may recommend Rago brand shapewear? Good stuff, not insanely expensive, and they have all kinds of different Grandma underwear for all your jiggly needs! (I wonder if I plug them enough if they might start sending me freebies. That would be AWESOME.) Good luck with the lingerie shopping! Thanks for checking out my little blog!

  3. Girl, you know I love corsets and girdles!

    • I might start going to Renaissance Festivals now, just so that I have an excuse to wear a corset! (My college self would be appalled.) (About the Ren Fest, not about the corset.)

  4. I bought something like that… it’s essentially a super tight version of the control top part of pantyhose, from Spanx. I would wear it all the time, except that it’s really hard to get in and out of to go to the bathroom. Plus it itches as soon as the weather isn’t freezing. Which means I pretty much never wear it.

    • Yeah, this one is nice because it’s open at the bottom so you don’t have to completely disrobe in order to urinate. Well, not to do it properly, in a toilet. I guess you could urinate without undressing, but that could really cause more problems than it solves.

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