My First Corset

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

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It is true that I am obsessed with the PBS show, Downton Abbey. Also true that I have read all 1,040 pages of Gone With The Wind at least four times.

But that doesn’t explain why I recently bought two corsets made from cold hard steel and reinforced black nylon.

Twenty years ago, I bought a beautiful black dress.  Handsewn black lace sleeves. Sequined fitted top. Fluffy black polka dot crinoline skirt.  Purchased at the same fancy-schmancy Madison Avenue boutique where I got my white silk wedding gown.

A dress that makes me hear Elton John singing “Tiny Dancer” when I twirl in front of the mirror.

A few days ago, I put on the little black dress for the first time in 15 years.  In other words, for the first time since having my 1-2-3 children.  Even with the assistance of my husband and a family friend, we could not get the zipper to budge above my waist.

I insisted that love for my children, not love of Haagen Dasz, is the culprit.  My rib cage popped out several inches with each pregnancy and never quite popped back in afterwards.  (This rib-cage expansion is documented by several objective pregnancy books, okay?)

Does it matter than I also packed on 10 pounds with each baby?  I say not.

Motherhood has forced me to give up many things for my children.  My business career.  Hundreds of hours of sleep.  Any claims to sanity.

But I am not giving up that dress.

When the dress wouldn’t zip properly, I floated the ingenious idea of wearing the dress unzipped.  Why not? I thought it looked very Gisele Bundchen, very Project Runway.

My husband and children did not agree.  There was some muttering about changing the locks if I left the house with the dress unzipped in the back.  I took it off and hung it on a hook in the hallway, as you would a baby picture of your grandmother or an award your child had won.

Then, luckily, I discovered Corsets USA.  Thank God for the Internet.  Who knew that nearly 150 years after Scarlett O’Hara had her maid pull her corset strings to achieve that 17 inch waist, and 100 years since Lady Sybil Grantham abandoned her corset in a brave act of women’s lib, that an American website would exist with the sole purpose of selling hundreds of corsets made of metal?

Who knew I would be so utterly delighted with this news? I am a rabidly recovered anorexic.  An avowed never-dieter.  Someone who loves her body AS IS!

Yet within 10 minutes of discovering Corsets USA and measuring my waist, I bought two of these contraptions.  They arrived yesterday via rush delivery.  It took me 30 minutes to figure out how to hook up the front and cinch up the back.  (Let’s just say, corset technology has not changed much since Scarlett O’Hara’s day.)

And I cannot wait to wear that black dress again.

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