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Letter to H.Y. from S.S-H.

dated 15th September 1959, confirmed orally 1968. David Kunzle: ''Fashion and Fetishism''

... what you say about the method of breathing when tightly-laced is so true. Most attractive as I remember from my aunt Helen. Of course she began her training as a girl of 14 or so in the Eighties, and progress in her case was steady and always supervised by her governess who slept next door to her. (Her mother had died when she was three.) My aunt used to tell me the whole story of her figure training, which until she came out was looked after by the governess. In my aunt's case too, she told me the first few months were irksome and painful. She was fortunate in being fairly slight, but from the beginning she always had night stays. I remember her telling me how for her first stays she was taken by her governess to a place in Bath, and how grown up she felt at the idea! But that when the first stays came she was rather rebellious after wearing them for a short time, as she was unable to play about so much in them and could only walk slowly and very uprightly, being encased tightly from below her hips to her armpits, and with shoulder braces to prevent or cure a slight stoop.

But after a few months vanity took control, though she did not always look forward to new stays which meant further reduction and pain. When she grew up, the two or three men with whom she lived successively, saw to it that she was always very tightly laced. When I first remember her she cannot have been more than 16 inches in the waist, and I can still picture her much later on in a black close-fitting evening dress when she told me that her waist was only 14 1/2 inches over the dress. She told me to hold it, and I did so easily with two hands. A very hard, unyielding middle -- I was occasionally allowed to help lace her in myself, when her lover was expected. Seeing I was interested and admired her figure, she was always telling me of incidents when she was in her teens and the governess in charge. She told me how much she wanted to wear clothes which showed off her tightly laced figure, but until she was sixteen years old she was made to wear clothes which concealed her figure. ... She said that at times when she was doing lessons with the governess her stays hurt her very much (because of the seated posture). Her most anxious time, she said, was when she had to wear new stays for a week or so before her coming out dance. Smaller than she had ever worn before, making her waist 17 inches measured over her dress. It took her governess and maid about half an hour to lace her into them. During the week she fainted once or twice, but on the important night all went well, and there was no lack of partners ...


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