Waist training useless, dangerous in faking hourglass figure



By Associate Editor

Stilettos, bras and hosiery are just some of the many uncomfortable garments women wear to enhance their appearance—leaving marks that show how some women struggle to achieve an ideal standard of beauty.

Among these burdensome garments are corsets, and although these constricting, string-tied body shapers are commonly thought to have been discarded in the early 1900s, the waist-cinching abdomen crusher has recently made a comeback.

With endorsements from celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba and Amber Rose, the 19th century trend has reemerged as a tool for unnaturally and painfully slimming women’s waist sizes.

The corset is a less than perfect weight-loss method and body-sculpting tool. Although acquiring an hourglass figure may be ideal for running down the beach or fitting into a skin-tight dress, it is not ideal for internal organs, which can be compressed and damaged as a result of wearing the garment.

Instead of exercising or dieting, women in the 19th Century used corsets as a way to acquire a curvy shape with an unnaturally tiny waist. However, women of this era who wore corsets faced a harsh reality when it came to their health and well-being, wrote Samuel Thomas von Sommerring, a physician and anatomist, in his 1793 essay “On the Effects of the Corset.” 

Along with fainting, rib crushing and persistent pain, organ rearrangement was the most dangerous side effects of the corset and could lead to serious illness and death. Women were suffering from tuberculosis, cancer, scoliosis and spine curvature as a result of wearing corsets, making it a painful sacrifice for beauty.

Knowing the history behind corsets and the consequences women have faced wearing them, it is absurd that so-called “waist-training” has been revived. There are dangers to wearing high heels and bras, but bunions and skin indentations are a small price to pay compared to organ failure.

Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical gynecologist and professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine, said despite the hype surrounding the lasting effects of a waist trainer, women will not actually see any long-term results in muscular development or weight loss, adding that once the trainer comes off, the body will go back to its natural shape. 

“It’s quite silly to be honest,” Minkin said. “While you’re wearing it, your waist will be smaller when you cinch it in, but after you take it off, there’s going to be no difference. It’s not like it’s training you to do something.”

Because pelvic and abdominal organs are slippery, they can shift during waist trainer use, which can interrupt digestive processes. Permanent health consequences only occur in an extreme circumstance in which a waist trainer was abnormally tight, but short-term consequences do exist. 

Minkin said if the intestines are restricted by a tight waist trainer, they are unable to properly digest food and carry the possibility of regurgitation because food cannot pass through the digestive system. What is more unappealing than barfing on yourself at dinner?

Because waist trainers can be harmful and do not yield lasting results, wearing them to attain a permanently smaller waist size is useless. Women will see a difference while they are actually wearing the waist trainer, but it will not permanently alter the shape of the body, making the trend a pointless and laughable effort. 

What is disappointing and questionable is celebrity-endorsement of waist trainers on social media. Kardashian is paid anywhere from $750,000–$1 million for one product endorsement. Even if Kardashian is not using a waist trainer regularly herself, she is encouraging other women to do it. Besides, audiences cannot be sure that celebrity bodies have not undergone extensive plastic surgery. It is easy to endorse a product when you already have the results it promises.

Positive body image messages are becoming more frequent and consistent, but women continue to feel pressure to conform to society’s beauty standards. Being pressured by celebrities to trim their waist is the last thing teen girls—an already vulnerable group—need. 

Because young women and teenage girls are often the most frequent users of social media, they are most often exposed to endorsements and advertising of products like this. 

Among all the other harmful tactics and methods women use to alter their bodies, they certainly do not need another adverse method that is a confirmed danger to a women’s well-being.