A talk on corsets, femininity and feminism
For as long as I can remember, I always had a nose for people. I’m sometimes naive, however usually I figure out people from early on, which is an incredibly useful trait if you like to avoid disappointment or horrendously long conversations that are mostly comprised out of small talk. The first time I saw Absentia, I had a feeling that there’s more than meets the eye – and I was so right. When you see her photos, you might think she’s just another pretty girl in a pretty dress – maybe with more eccentric taste. To be honest that’s something you’d want to believe about her, since having those incredible blue eyes and being smart, driven, opinionated and talented as well is simply not fair, really.
One of the very few things I love more than being right (and I LOVE being right – quite the downfall sometimes), is finding people with empowering, inspiring or surprising stories. And what’s more surprising than a corset wearing feminist?
1. The basics – how old are you, where are you from, are you a student/do you work?
I’m from Poland and I’m 25 years old. I have a master’s degree in pedagogy and teaching of art. I work as a designer, model and photographer which allows me to combine my biggest passions.
2. You have a very peculiar style – when did you discover corsets and how did your style develop over time to what it is today?
My interest in corsets started more than 10 years ago, unfortunately back then they were nearly unobtainable in Poland. I had to make due with what I could find in second hand shops and cheap corset-like clothes. With time the popularity of corsets started to grow as well as access to information. Currently I value high quality in clothing and some of my most unique clothes are made by corsetieres and among them many are created from my own designs. As for my style, I always liked to create something original, however as a teenager I had a lot less resources than I have now. I tried to find cheap and original things and often modify them. They were not elegant clothes however, as I was inspired by punkrock, grunge and gothic styles. Currently I also try to focus on unique clothes and I am much more restrictive when it comes to good quality fabric and craftsmanship. I like to mix and match styles and I do not commit to one particular style.
3. Did you always have such a narrow waist, or is it the result of waist training?
My waist is the result of genes that I inherited from my mother. Even as a 12 year old girl I had wide hips that were the reason for complexes. In time I have learned not only to accept how I look but to emphasize my shape with clothes. There was a time when I wore corsets almost every day but my motivation was not waist training- they were a part of my stylization. Since then a lot of time has passed so there is no lasting change to my silhouette.
4. You have some amazing costumes, corsets and dresses. Do you make them yourself?
Most of the clothes that are on my pictures are made by me, however I love to cooperate with talented designers and corsetieres. I often create stylizations to match the corsets that I am presenting so that the whole outfit fits together as a whole. Sewing my own corsets was a dream that started to come true a year ago. I learned it by myself using the information from the internet and knowledge gained form analyzing the corsets from my collection. I also received useful tips from corsetieres that I worked with on photoshoots. I am constantly learning and every new project is a challenge for me and a chance to try out a new technique. I love corsets for their ability to emphasize womanly shapes and their incredible universality as they can be incorporated in every style.
5. Do you dress like this in a daily basis?
Currently I wear corsets mostly for the photoshoots and occasionally when I’m out. When working I am more focused on feeling comfortable. At my workshop I am not concerned with how I look and often just wear my pushin or batman pajamas and no makeup. When I go out I try to prepare a bit but there is no rule – when I feel like it I dress in a dress, corset and a fascinator and other times I just dress in black skinny jeans and a hoodie. I like to play with my look and see how people react.
6. What are some (false) assumptions people make about you? (due to your style)
Sometimes I read in the comments that the corset is squeezing me too much and that it is unhealthy. This is untrue because my natural waist is depending on the day 52-55 cm so the reduction is not that big even when wearing a 16″ corset. Those corset are made to measure – they have enough space at the hips and ribs not to cause any pain.
7. Your look is similar to the real life doll aesthetic, which often encourages, let’s say, people to think of it from a sexual standpoint (maybe they wrongly associate your style with afetish). Have you ever been harassed on the street or online because of that?
It was never my goal to have a doll-like look and to be honest I am surprised that my look is associated with a fetish. Fortunately, I was not harassed because of my art in real life. However on the internet – of course, I sometimes get such messages but they are not often. When posing I try to do it in good taste and not to have any sexual subtext. I do not think that I encourage such behavior as there is a lot of other models that reveal much more.
8. How do you feel about your body (honestly)?
To be honest I am very critical when it comes to myself – including the way I look. Today I do not have as many complexes as I had before. I accept that which I cannot change, but if I can work on something I do not pretend that everything is fine but work on it. Todays standards of womanly beauty are grounded in our culture and are a big influence on young people. It’s good to realize that the standards often change and it’s not worth to fit in at every cost. Promoting extremes – being extremely thin or obese is not good because it encourages us to accept a disease. Saying that, I do think that it is good to promote diversity.
9. You are from Poland. Were you affected by the proposed abortion ban law? Did you go to the protests? Tell us more about what it was really like.
Unfortunately last year the election was won by extreme right conservative party and they now have majority in the government and are trying to force the rest of the society to respect their orthodox vision of the world. The government is planning to implement a law that that restricts abortion even more (right now the law is already very restrictive and allows abortion in 3 cases: rape, threat of death or serious fetus defects). Followers of PiS use complete demagoguery and use terms like conceived child in terms of a few millimeter fetus or even an egg cell that just fused with sperm. Their hypocrisy is shown when they have no concern for mothers that need help in caring for sick children that are already born. I am really concerned with the situation in my country and I attend the protests.
10. Are you a feminist?
My whole life I thought of myself as a feminist, however I realize that in Poland that term is highly devalued. Not everyone is aware of the true meaning of being a feminist and of many variations of the movement. In my country, most people are under the wrong impression that there is only radical form of feminism despite of many feminists being against the methods of the radical side. I feel that liberal feminism and postmodern feminism are closest to my views, however I also have a lot of understanding of other forms. Unfortunately, women’s rights are still being violated. I see this in Poland every day in harmful stereotypes in commercials, hidden message in the school program, difficult access to doctors and birth control methods, lack of women in high positions, lack of equal pay and difficulty in keeping a job in the time of pregnancy. I feel personally offended by the sexist language and the woman stereotypes in mass media.
11. What is your message? What would you like to tell the world, what do you want to inspire?
I would like for people to be more open to variety and not to judge on the first appearance. I myself encountered violence and discrimination and I know that this is a real problem ,especially in conservative groups.