Lena and I spend a few moments flipping through a generously stocked rack of beautiful corsets (“best in the city!”—according to a reviewer at Yelp), a bit listlessly given Lena’s thing for corsets. I have been aware of this thing for some time: I’ve observed Lena shopping for corsets online with the same apparent absorption that other kids play video games, or Facebook.
Once, in an effort to remain open to my child’s unorthodox self-concept, I allowed her to purchase a rather pretty handmade corset with birthday money from grandparents. Last summer, Lena even won an obnoxiously shiny and pink PVC corset as a prize for answering some questions about sex correctly on a British alternative young women’s site, to her great pride and delight. (As long as she takes her obligations and responsibilities seriously, I tell her.) Perhaps because we are just warming up to the particular subversion of going to a sex store while being mother and daughter, we are now treating these corsets with such coolness. Not that I exactly see why there should be subversion in this.
Lena pulls out a black corset with an elegant brocade panel and suggests that I might enjoy trying it on. I assure her that, as pretty as this one is, I couldn’t be comfortable in one. And besides, hadn’t women worked so hard not to have to stuff their bodies into these things? And therefore, why on earth would I put one on now? For her, perhaps, putting one on is as subversive as taking it off was for the feminists before us. But I am grateful for my uncorsetted life, thank you.