For some, the word ‘corset’ conjures up images of Victorian women wincing while being strapped into their brutally restrictive whalebone undergarments.
Although corsets are still available in various forms, including the ‘waist trainers’ beloved by the Kardashian sisters, they’re not always viewed in a positive light.
Many are quick to dismiss them as a relic of outdated, rigid, even damaging beauty standards.
Yet for Australian author and journalist Tara Moss, the appeal of corsets is not purely aesthetic.
Moss has worn corsets for two decades — even branching into making her own recently — and has loved the look of them for as long as she can remember.
Now, as she explains in the anthology Solaced: 101 Uplifting Narratives About Corsets, Well-Being, and Hope, her love of them is two-fold.
Last October, the self-described “midcentury vintage nerd” realised the garments provided effective relief for the health condition she’d been living with since her teenage years.
Moss has curvature of the spine, or scoliosis, and has explored various avenues — including yoga, pain killers and seeing osteopaths — to manage the resulting chronic pain.
When she developed pain during a writing session one afternoon, the Speaking Out author instinctively reached for an old underbust.
“Perhaps I had medical corsets in mind that day (they are often structurally similar) and I unconsciously craved the stiff posture support,” Moss muses in her piece, also published on Daily Life.
“Whatever the reason, by the end of that day, I discovered something curious — my neck and upper back felt ‘lighter’.”