Monday, March 30, 2015

9 Things I Learned About Corsets at AnomalyCon

We've seen the movies. We know that Mammy laces Scarlett into a corset that makes her waist only 17 inches around. Elizabeth Swann wears a corset and faints off a cliff. Anna Valerious kicks vampire butt while wearing one.

But when it comes to wearing a corset in real life, are those things even possible? When I decided to wear a corset for AnomalyCon 2015, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I'd heard the myths and seen the movies, but I'd never actually worn one myself.

Here are 9 things I learned about corsets this weekend:

1. Lizzie Bennett's hems were 6 inches deep in mud because there comes a point at which you just don't flippin' care any more. When you're strapped into a corset, there is only so much movement you can handle. And bending over to grab your skirts to lift them over every single mud puddle simply isn't one of them.

2. You don't eat or drink [alcohol] as much. Seriously. I usually get hungry every couple of hours. In the corset, though, I would eat a tiny portion and be set for several hours. The same went for alcohol -- I drank 3/4 of a beer after dinner one night and discovered that was all I needed/wanted.

3. Swooning is a thing. You know how everyone in the old books and movies always have smelling salts around to wake women from fainting? That's because your body naturally takes in enough oxygen for the unbound form. Strap it into a corset, and you won't always breathe deeply enough. And when you don't breathe, you get lightheaded. And then you swoon.

4. Women were surrounded by men and servants for a dang good reason: help. I could just about get into my corset alone, but if I wanted it to fit perfectly I needed help. When standing or getting up from a low chair, or climbing in and out of cars, I kept thinking that having a man offer his hand to help me would not be unappreciated*.

5. Taking a turn about the room is one of the most refreshing things on the planet. After an hour-long on-stage interview, I grabbed a glass of water and walked around the auditorium. It was glorious. You see, the corset is actually very comfortable while you're standing or walking. But when you sit, you get one position: straight up, feet on the floor. If you cross your legs and your corset is longer, you could cut off your circulation**. Lean back too far and you crush your ribs. Lean forward too far and you waste your lower back holding yourself still.

6. The ladies' room? It's an adventure. That's all I'll say.

7. Moving is entirely possible, but limited. How the heck Anna Valerious in Van Helsing runs and jumps and does gymnastics in a corset is beyond me. I can get a tiny bit of running. And hand-to-hand fighting, totally***. But the full-on cardio workout? Nope.

8. Corsets make you look dang good, people. From the tiny waist to the better posture, there's just something about a well-fitting corset that catches the eye.

9. It's empowering. I now understand why women got rid of the corset and the confining life it could lead to. Relying on men and lady friends to help you do everything can be taxing****. But choosing to wear it now is a different thing altogether -- you feel pretty, and there's nothing like feeling pretty to feel empowered.

Here are some photographic memories of the superlative time we at Beyond the Trope had while traipsing through AnomalyCon 2015:

"FREE!!! super awesome magnetic bling" 

The view from our table :)

The magnets were almost gone by Saturday night!

Michelle's only regret this weekend was not taking more pictures. She took some, but not enough...

*But in the meantime, I totally perfected the graceful "fall" necessary to get into a car.
**...yeah...that happened...
***Emily (Giles' wife) and I took a self-defense class and I could do everything they needed me to do. In a corset and floor-length skirts. Bam.
****Like when I dropped a pen cap on the floor by my foot and couldn't reach it unless I stood up, crouched down, and grabbed it. So I just stared at it sadly until someone picked it up for me. Ha!

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