Saturday, November 29, 2008

On My Naughty List

Instead of doing a Favorite Things post for November, I'd like to share with you just a few things on my naughty Christmas list. Please, Santa baby...I've been extra bad!

1. The SaSi

I love vibrators, and as far as I can tell the SaSi may be the cream of the crop (pun intended). What sets the SaSi apart is its use of Sensual Intelligence technology. As you use the SaSi, you tell it what levels and types of stimulation you like best, and can skip over the ones that just don't do it for you. SaSi remembers, and returns to your favorites, and, based on those, throws in some educated guesses about something new for you to try. It's silicone, so it's easy to clean, and it's rechargeable, so you don't have to keep buying batteries. Of course it can't bring you flowers or feed you soup when you're sick, but otherwise, the SaSi might be the ideal partner--does what you like, throws a few curveballs, and isn't offended if you don't like what it's doing. At $175, it's not exactly recession-friendly, but a girl can dream.

2. Fifi and Francoise

I would be happy with just about anything from Agent Provocateur under my tree, but these are a couple of my favorites. I love the lace overlays, and the pink and black combination runs throughout my favorite pieces at home. The bras give my breasts a flattering bullet-shape, and may I point out the Francoise French Thong in particular? Let's also take note of the Fifi slip. That's a gift for me and my man.

3. The Lace-up Girdle from Lace Embrace

Of course I love lacing up in my corset, but there are some days when I want something a little gentler. Maybe I'm cramping, maybe my hips are sore, or maybe I'm just bored wearing the same pair of utility corsets I have, but this girdle would be a great alternative. Not only is it sexy on its own, but it keeps everything smooth, tight and shapely, even if it's not as extreme as a corset. The smoothness in particular is a big draw, since I get very self-conscious about my corset being visible under my clothes. I've also had very pleasant dealings with Lace Embrace in the past, and would be happy to continue supporting their business.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Musings on the Mutter

This past weekend I was in Philadelphia, and visited one of the oddest places in my recent memory: The Mutter Museum. It is part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and is a collection of medical artifacts both historical and strange. There is an ovarian cyst that weighed in at 74 pounds, there is a piece of John Wilkes Booth's brain, a colon that contained forty pounds of feces and the twins joined at the head which are pictured here. Believe me when I say that these examples are just scratching the surface of strangeness in this fascinating place.

However, I keep thinking about one piece in particular, which is a turn-of-the-century skeleton of a tightlacer. Her ribcage has been brought in so small that her floating ribs nearly meet in front, and the museum estimates that at the time of her death, her waist measured in the 13-14 inch range. Listening to the audio tour, I learned that one thing scientists can discern from the skeleton is that she was wealthy enough to have a servant that could lace her that tightly, and that her corsets probably used grommets, which also helped her to lace tighter. I never would have thought about grommets as an innovation, but it makes perfect sense.

The audio piece also gives a shout-out to Cathie Jung as a modern tightlacer, notes that tightlacers are rare, and that tightlacing can cause serious damage to your body. This last part annoyed me. It's true that tightlacing can create significant health problems, however, it also worth noting that there are variations to the degree of lacing. I can sustain being laced to 22.5 inches for a day, which is a reduction of 5 or 6 inches. I've been lacing for years, and my doctors have never once expressed concern for my health. People wonder how I can breathe, my father in particular wonders about my organs being displaced, and others are amazed that I can eat in a corset.

The answer? Practice. I didn't always lace so tightly. I started out gradually in the early days of my training, and worked my way down to this size which is both flattering and realistic for me. I could lace tighter, but I wouldn't be able to stay laced so tightly for an extended period of time. Without taking the appropriate amount of time to work down to a smaller size, I would do damage to myself. There is a right way and a wrong way to do anything. A thirteen inch waist is not visually appealing to me, but Cathie seems to be doing just fine, so good for her. And, as for the skeleton, no cause of death was mentioned--not even from tightlacing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Free to be me?

Some big news for me: I got a new (day) job last week. This is a good thing, as there is no job security in my current position--I'm often surprised I even still have a job. Though I won't divulge the name of either company involved, I will say that I am moving from a group that is very blue-collared to another which is stark white. One reason I like the blue-collar workplace is because it is so much more laid back--I can flaunt my seamed stockings, drop-dead red lipstick, jet black hair and tiny waist with no problem. Where I'm going, you can't even wear jeans on Fridays.

I have a habit of worrying, and my worry now is that I will walk in on my first day of work and someone will decide that I need to dress more conservatively. I've heard of girls being told to lengthen their hems and raise their necklines in offices, and even though I'm not violating any dress code with a knee-length skirt, I wonder how my style will be received. I think it's classy, but others may just find it obnoxious. If I'm asked to change the way I dress, I'll be embarassed and annoyed.

With this in the back of my head, I went yesterday to a theory sample sale. I figure I could probably use a nice suit, and had read good things about theirs. Looking through the racks, I couldn't find anything that felt like myself. Sure, there were some cute blazers that I liked, but the disappointment came when I looked for skirts. Awful! I found high waisted pencil skirts with pleats that seemed strategically placed to add pounds to my appearance, or else run-of-the-mill skirts that bored me to tears just to look at. Even if I added personality to the suit with accessories or a tastefully bold shirt, the bottom part of me would still be a mess.

When I decide that I really can spend the money on a decent suit, I'm sure I'll buy one that is vintage, and I know that there are plenty out there which are both fashion forward and appropriate for a conservative office. That's not the point. But even among the racks of blue, gray and black plainness, I stood out like a sore thumb. It occurred to me that my new office will also be decked in blue, gray and black plainness. When I walk through the door, my new colleagues will have no idea what hit them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Second Skin You Don't Need

Ah, winter. Holidays, hot chocolate, snuggling by the fire--and fur.

This last is possibly my least favorite part of winter. I am anti-fur, and this can be a problem for someone who a) works in an office located in Manhattan's fur district, and b) rides a train to work that originates in Brighton Beach, a predominately Russian neighborhood where fur is part of the culture. I get great pleasure in both cases walking around with my "no fur" button. The best is when I sit myself down next to a lady covered head to toe in fur with my button front and center. It's worth it to watch her squirm, and to see the looks on the other passenger's faces.

But, being anti-fur can be difficult for a pin-up. Fur is incredibly soft and silky, and associated with sex and luxury, but it is also totally inhumane. My friend at work loves her furs, and the first time she saw me with my no-fur button last winter she asked why I was against fur.

"The animals are dead already," she said.

"Yes," I answered, "because they've been slaughtered, in some cases skinned alive, just to make a coat."

"Really?" she said, her eyes wide as saucers. "I thought they used animals that were already dead."

I further explained to her that no, her coat was not made from roadkill picked up off the highway, and also that there is no reason for wearing fur, as there are plenty of synthetic fabrics available that very closely mimic the look and feel of fur without any of the cruelty. Animals on fur farms are killed using some of the same brutal methods that Michael Vick employed to kill dogs at his Bad Newz Kennelz, including electrocution, drowning and strangulation. No living creature deserves to be treated this way for the sake of a fancy coat. Fundamentally, it's just disrespect for life.

The good news is that the no-fur movement continues to gain ground. Last month, luxury retailer Henri Bendel announced it would no longer sell fur products in its stores, joining fur-free companies like Polo Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Ann Taylor and others. The celebrity movement against fur is also huge and includes names like Sarah Jessica Parker, Pamela Anderson, Eva Mendes, Christy Turlington and Gisele Bundchen. Each of these women are examples that being a pin-up does not have to include cruelty. (One name I wish I could add to this list is Dita von Teese, who continues to wear furs. I wish she would stop.) If you've got to have the look, go faux. I myself do not, because I believe that faux fur continues to propagate the image of fur as sexy, but I still support faux, as it is still far preferable to the alternative.

There are other materials that are also cited for their cruelty to animals, like leather and some wools. I confess here that I do own and wear both leather and wool garments, but it is a practice I am working to stop for myself. I love feathers, although I don't own any, but was recently pleasantly surprised when I contacted a feather retailer who told me that (at least in the case of peacocks), the feathers are harvested after molting and not forcibly ripped from the bird. I pick on fur because I find it unexcusable. Synthetic leather has never held up for me like real leather, and I am only now finding out about cruel wool practices, but we live, we learn, and we each have the power to change. Be responsible, and check up on the stores where you frequently shop. When shopping for makeup, find out if testing is conducted on animals. Time consuming? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

Here are some other resources to help quell a habit of animal cruelty products:
Please feel free to share other cruelty free resources with me and everyone else here--then have fun shopping like a sexy and socially conscientious pin-up!
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Pinup Tales by Kitty du Vert is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.