alt.sex.column: Straitlaced

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Dear Readers:

We were lately discussing objects and outfits that make you feel sexier and more attractive, as opposed to fetish items, inanimate stuff you're attracted to.

I don't have too much faith in the power of random dress-up to recharge a flagging relationship's batteries, but I do believe you can tap into your own image of an ideal sexual self and recharge from there. This is not at all the same thing as "If I were thinner (bustier, better hung, had nicer ears ...), I'd be able to have the kind of sex I actually want." That sort of self-judging will just hold you back. And since hardly anyone ever achieves anything like their ideal body, it's basically just a way to keep yourself from ever enjoying anything.

Donning a costume (sexy underwear or whatever) that you hope will interest a partner is nice, but dressing for yourself will always be more reliable, just as the masturbater needn't waste time telling him/herself to do it a little harder or to spend a bit more time on foreplay.

It's about finding a mode of dressing or grooming that expresses — to you — a way you want to be perceived, yes, but most of all the way you want to feel and behave. I'm most intrigued by the way that dress outside the bedroom can cross-pollinate, to positive effect, with sexual self-image. It's entirely possible to go out dressed, quite respectably, as your secret sexual self. And doing so, not necessarily even on a date, can bring considerable zing back home with you. Think butch or flirty shoes/boots, garter belts and stockings, leather jackets. And corsets.

Corsets, you say? Are people really wearing corsets — again? — and isn't compressing your internal organs like that kind of unhealthy? People are, and no it isn't.

And no, ladies of yore did not used to have a rib removed (without, you will recall, anesthesia or antibiotics). Neither are you likely, now or then, to crack ribs, faint, or die of the vapors.

But you can hurt yourself, usually while "tight-lacing" — pulling the thing as tight as you can all at once — rather than "waist-training," gradually reshaping your body through steady compression. Don't.

As a visual, the appeal is hardly obscure, harking back as it (presumably) does to the savannah and the instinctual and apparently universal appeal of the small waist.

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