By dint of long training, Ethel’s waist had, by the time war broke out in 1939, been gradually reduced to 13 inches (33 cm). Will believed that if they had been able to continue with Mrs. Kayne for a few more years, Ethel could have become even smaller, but wartime shortages prevented further progress. Clothing was rationed and corsets could not be made to measure without a doctor’s prescription. Fabrics strong enough to stand the strain of extreme tight lacing disappeared, and steel to make stays and front busks was not available.
Mrs. Kayne wrote that she had to cease operations and would contact her clients after the war, so when Ethel’s corsets wore out, they could not be replaced. Mrs. Kayne never wrote as she had promised, and Will’s postwar letter to her was returned as nondeliverable.
Years later Will learned that she had survived the war and moved near Plymouth, that it was her husband who designed the corsets and wrote the booklets, and that the steel corset cover she was shown wearing in one booklet had gone to a corset maker in London, where Will saw it.
Will regretted that during the 1940s they weren’t able to continue reducing Ethel’s waist. He believed that because Ethel was still young, she had not reached her limit at 13 inches, and further reduction was possible. Another regret was that she had not started training at 13 or 14 years of age. He believed that then her waist could have been given a nice long taper from the smallest possible waist up to a high full bosom. Because Ethel started in her twenties and got down to 13 inches in ten years, Will believed that if she had started at a younger age and been given the full treatment, she could have gone below 13 inches (33 cm). She had reached that size by long and patient training, proceeding in small steps and retaining whatever had been achieved.
Ethel’s tight lacing never caused any serious illness; her health was better after she took up tight lacing than before. Ethel was able, despite being always laced tightly, to do almost everything anyone else could do. In the early days she rode a bicycle and later a light motorcycle.
Ethel did all sorts of work in their half-acre garden, digging, hoeing, weeding, and operating a motorized plough, and when they built an astronomical observatory, Ethel mixed concrete. She has had no problems with indigestion or fainting and never needed to diet. Her appetite was excellent and often she often surprised restaurant waiters by how much she could eat despite her minuscule waist.
Ethel was not interested in tattooing, but she did go twice to a well known tattooist, Mr. Burchett in London near Waterloo Station, to have permanent coloring added to her cheeks and lips.
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