Myth: Waist trainers can help you lose inches off your middle, permanently.
Reality: These modern-day corsets are hazardous to your health and do nothing for your waist long term.
There is a stereotype about Americans that I’m sure you’re all familiar with; it asserts that we are impatient, always looking for the easiest and fastest solution to our problems and desires. It’s why McDonald’s exists, and why trendy weight-loss hoaxes like diet pills, and yes, waist trainers, are so popular, despite the fact that we should know better by now.
Waist trainers, if you’re not familiar with the trendy new item, are essentially modern-day corsets, and it seems they’ve conspired with the Kardashian clan to squeeze our society back into Victorian standards of beauty. So, before you spend a dime buying into impossible and ridiculous beauty ideals, I took the liberty of debunking all of the “beneficial” outcomes waist trainers claim to have on your Barbie-Doll body goals.
A quick Google search provided me with a generous list of the “health benefits” of wearing a corset. However, after reading through a few different lists, I realized the proclaimed health benefits were about the same no matter which site I looked at, and these “benefits” could essentially be whittled down to three target “pro” arguments, which I’ve explored below.
Reading through these lists of pro-corset reasoning was really a reminder of target marketing and deceptive advertising. While yes, none of these listed reasons as to the positive use of a corset are fabricated, they neatly and slyly leave out the harsher and scary truth as to why corsets have the effect that they do on the body.
So, yes, corsets may help alleviate your back pain and help correct your posture—probably both, as back pain is often a symptom of bad posture—but do you know why a corset is able to do that? Essentially, a corset works like a doll stand would for a doll: it holds your torso in a strict position, allowing for little movement, essentially forcing you into sitting and standing up straight. Also like a doll stand, it provides support for your body to stay in this position, which means that not only are you rendering your muscles immobile, you’re also relieving them of their normal everyday work supporting your weight. In layman's terms, a corset allows your core and back muscles to become lazy, and when muscles go unused, they atrophy. Less muscle = fewer calories burned. Doesn’t seem like that “benefit” is going to help whittle your middle...
Any professional waist trainer distributor will tell you that it is vital that you exercise and maintain your core strength, even before starting waist training. This is because they don’t want to be sued when you ignore them and discover three weeks later that you can no longer get out of bed in the morning without a railing to help you.
Please do pardon my French (and also consider it a nod to one of the founding father countries of corset fashion) but I’m calling total bullshit on this one. I’m sorry, but “putting pressure on the stomach” for “portion control” is not a weight loss technique. This is a form of starving yourself and in any other form might be considered a habit contributing to an eating disorder. If you are so dissatisfied with your body that you are willing to starve it of the nutrition and energy it needs to get through the day, please, please, please see a doctor. I’m not trying to shame you for the way that you feel, but you deserve to love your body and there are healthier ways to reach that point.
Many corset makers also claim weight loss via the heat-retaining materials (like latex) that will encourage your body to sweat. THIS IS NOT WEIGHT LOSS. Sweating can ONLY reduce water weight, which in turn will dehydrate your body (a very bad thing) you will regain every ounce of that precious liquid the next time you quench your thirst.
Finally, the undeniable point to subjecting yourself to the medieval torture of waist training to begin with: the Disney Princess waist that awaits you at the end of your journey through Hell. Well, let’s start out with the absolute fact that there really are no facts revolving around the corset’s ability to permanently reduce the size of your waist and change the shape of it. There simply hasn’t been enough long-term research behind the product to back up these promises.
Sure, corsets can force you into a shapely hourglass figure while you wear them, and perhaps for a certain amount of time after you take them off, if you wear them long enough. But will there ever come a time when you can walk away from your corset with the figure of Jessica Rabbit and never need to put it back on? Probably not. But even if you could, trust me when I say that you do not want that for your body.
Why? Because a corset by itself cannot make you lose weight. Yes, it makes your waist smaller in size, but this isn’t because it’s magically making the fat on your body go away. Instead, it’s simply pushing and redistributing your fat and your vital organs either up into your chest, severely constricting your lungs, or down towards your hips, which can create bowel, bladder, and intestinal issues. But don’t take it from me; listen toa real doctor explain with actual science why corsets are incredibly harmful to your body’s health, while providing you with all the wonderfully frightening visuals of what’s actually going on inside your body when you wear a corset.
The short answer is no. The long answer is yes, if your dreams involve permanently damaging your body’s internal structure and possibly creating more harm for your health than any societal beauty standard is worth.
I would like to point out here that no beauty standard is worth permanently damaging your body. Who are you changing for? Yourself? Someone else? Will that really make you happy? It’s worth noting here that if you were seriously considering waist training, or something like waist training, that perhaps it’s not your body that needs to change, but your attitude. If you’re in the habit of body shaming yourself, is that really going to change once you achieve (if you’re goals for yourself are even achievable) your ideal body? Or will you simply find something new that you hate? Love yourself now, and choose to be happy, because health, happiness, and confidence in those two things are really the only beauty ideals we should be striving for.