I'm sure you keep hearing about girls using a waist trainer. Perhaps images of Victorian women trying to breathe and claiming they’ve got “the vapors” because they’re struggling to breathe immediately pop into your head, you’re not far off. Waist training or waist cinching involves wearing a tight corset or corset like garment that is inches smaller than your actual waist in the hopes that it will compress your core into an hourglass figure.
Everyone in Hollywood seems to be doing it. The eldest Kardashian sisters rave about them on their Instagram accounts, and even Jessica Alba has fessed up to wearing a corset for a lengthy period of time after giving birth to her daughters. Women are coveting that perfect hourglass shape and they want fast results; they don’t want to waste weeks at the gym waiting to see their bodies gradually change. Any time you hear of a new fad that claims to change your body almost instantly, you have to wonder how legitimate and safe the supposed results are. When waist training for an hourglass silhouette, what are you really giving up?
Let’s first take a look at the legitimacy of being able to magically transform the shape of your body by binding it tight for a while. To a certain extent, our bodies can act as memory foam. If you’ve ever worn a hairband around your wrist that was too tight and then you remove it, you’ll see that an indentation is left, changing the bound spot on your wrist. That change is temporary though, and you’ll notice a little while later that your wrist is back to its original form. Our waists aren’t that much different. After wearing them for a while, your waist might have noticeably reshaped into more of an hourglass shape. This is because your abdomen has been compressed into this shape, with the waist trainer acting as a mold for your abdomen. Not only are the results not long-term, waist training can actually be counterproductive when you’re trying to have a toned looking abdomen because according to Jennifer Smith from Livestrong, it can lead to decreased abdominal muscle tone. Unless you continue to wear the waist trainer on a regular basis, your body will revert back to its original shape, which probably isn’t what you personally consider an hourglass figure or you wouldn’t be waist training in the first place.
So what exactly are the risks of stuffing yourself into an uncomfortable waist trainer that doesn’t provide lasting results? They can range from minor discomfort to serious health problems regardless of if they’re being worn properly or not. Aside from decreased abdominal muscle tone, some less serious results of waist training can include abdominal wall atrophy, and pelvic and abdominal discomfort. The side effects get worse. Your internal organs are extremely compressed, and can lead to a deformed stomach and liver. According to Dr. Sara Gottfried who trained at Harvard, “Corsets can squish your lungs by 30 to 60 percent…” which makes sense as your ribs and diaphragm are squeezed pretty tightly, preventing them from allowing your lungs to expand and take in the amount of air that their made to take in, therefore decreasing your breathing capacity. You’re also not able to eat as much as your body needs you to because your stomach is so constricted that it can’t expand to allow for the intake of food that you need.
Bottom line? Most likely, nothing that claims to instantly change your body will do so with long lasting and safe results. So next time you look in the mirror and vow that you’ll do anything to quickly and easily get your body into the shape you want it to be in, think about the consequences of quick fixes and remind yourself what the benefits of hard work are. After all, working hard at the gym and eating healthy are the only safe ways to get and keep your body in the shape you want it to be in.