Lacing Up In The Red Tent

In case you aren’t aware, in biblical times (so like, a LONG time ago, even before rotary dial phones), Jewish women were required to spend their monthly period in a red tent, so they were isolated from the men (because you know…unclean!). So, our vague shame, our reticence in talking about it when men are around is pretty much a holdover from ancient times (like, the 1970s, even) because we were always taught that our bleeding was somehow unclean, somehow shameful. A sickness.

I know that both men and women tight lace and waist train, but you tightlacing guys can just hang back and listen.

Because we’ve been conditioned to think of ourselves as “ill” when we bleed, we tend to be hesitant about our bodies during this time. And to be sure, many of us ARE ill when we have our periods. I have endometriosis, so I know from mind-boggling pain, let me tell you. I can’t work out, Hell, I can barely walk the first couple of days. The pain is intense, the bleeding like something out of the bucket scene in Carrie.

Not a good time, in other words.

But, it was also a time of community with other women, in the red tent — I’m sure they were grateful for the break in housework, and time to catch up with their sisters. So, let’s do that shall we? Cozy up in our metaphorical red tent with some tea, a little herbal refreshment, or wine, if you prefer, and talk about how to take care of ourselves as women and as tight lacers, waist trainers, and corseters when we are bleeding, cranky, in pain, and feeling fat.

22″ waspie for bloated manatee days, and totally appropriate Murder t-shirt

So, is it advisable, or even safe, to lace up when we have our periods? The answer, as you might have expected, is “yes, but…” By which I mean, I absolutely do lace up, as the compression actually helps with both the pain and the dreaded bloating up like a dead seacow. It feels good, and not so much like my uterus is going to explode out of my body a la Alien. BUT. I absolutely do NOT tight lace (lacing down to the greatest possible reduction WITHOUT pain or intense discomfort) – nor do I lace up with waist training in mind. It’s solely about the amount of compression that will relieve pain, and not exacerbate it. Tight lacing would be horribly uncomfortable, and could put undue stress on things when you’re already feeling sensitive to pain, and are retaining water. So, “loose lacing”, rather.

A nice easy 2 1/2 “ reduction, allowing for the half inch or so I gain in water retention

Today, on my first day, when the pain is at its worst and I’m losing the most blood, I’m laced up in my comfortable larger corset; my 22″ for when I’m Hella bloated and can’t deal with the intense pressure of anything more than two or three inches, taking into account the bloat (how can we forget the bloat); or, when I’m feeling a bit better, my 20″ laced just a bit looser than usual (mine all close easily now, and I’m about to size down to an 18″). Don’t throw out those larger corsets! They really come in handy for days when you want to lace up, but not aggressively train. Days like today, when trying to season a new/tinier corset would be an exercise in frustration and futility. Stick to what’s comfortable for YOU.

I like to take it easy on myself for these few days, and there’s nothing wrong with just not lacing up at all. Rather that, in fact, than trying to tight lace when my body feels like a bloated manatee washed up on the shore. Because I am in enough pain to require pain meds during the first two or three days, I like to have my comfiest, softest leggings or ugly sweats, a nice soft shirt for under the corset, and a fuzzy leopard print robe, because it’s the law, I’m pretty sure. I don’t wear my usual leotards/bodysuits now, because it’s a pain in the ass to manuever in the things when it’s time for keeping up the ol’ feminine hygiene like forty thousand times in the space of an hour (I bleed a lot, ok?). I like to lace up as soon as I get up to sort of head off the pain first thing, tightening the corset just enough to feel that good compression, and almost immediate pain relief. I even have a specific corset I only use for this (pictured above), as it’s too large to train or tight lace in, but just right for being used basically as compression wear when I’ve got 5 lbs of water weight to contend with. It also helps with the inevitable back pain.

Dramatic interpretation of me languishing in my Bed of Pain, with corset, of course

I also have found that it helps to curb the weird cravings that drive me crazy — cravings for a chocolate truffle the size of my head, or a gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream, with whipped cream. And chocolate sauce.

And did I mention the chocolate?

There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little, certainly, but see, I do cravings the way I do everything — as if the world is ending tomorrow and I have to do (or in this case, eat) ALL THE THINGS. Which obviously is not healthy. Compression works. It’s like one of those compression sleeves for your wrists, or socks for swollen, sore calves. It’s a known entity, and you can apply this same logic to your abdomen when IT is swollen and sore. You won’t stop or slow the blood flow, you won’t damage your uterus.

As an added bonus, it also makes me aware of my body in a way nothing else can, so hormonal overeating isn’t really an option. It just doesn’t feel good. Lacing up sort of seems to trick my body into thinking I don’t actually need that entire bag of M&Ms.

Whether or not you choose to corset when you’re hanging out in the red tent is, of course, entirely up to you. There are certainly days when the very idea of anything binding my abdomen is about as appealing as eating asbestos paint; but generally, I have found that a gentle lacing is helpful on many levels. And when I feel like taking it off, I do. I promise that you won’t lose any progress in waist training if you take a couple days off a month. Ultimately, it’s an individual choice — and if you struggle with unmanageable pain during your period, you might find some relief as I have. Make it part of your self-care; slap on some red laces, make it special. Make that period corset fancy.

Plus, that whole corset with sweatpants look? Über hot.

Über hotness

X, Alice in Waistland

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