Waist of time

3 Mins read

Waist training has recently gained hashtag fame on Instagram with girls rejoicing that their corsets have arrived and that they can’t wait to start squashing their organs together to make a human haggis. Women who are promoting waist training claim that you only need a few inches of waist width for your organs to fit, so that’s comforting. Who needs oxygen when you look like a phenomenon from a Channel 4 special?

Woman in corset standing on weighing scales, illustration [Alexandra Shaw]

[Illustration by Alexandra Shaw]

Ok, so this may only apply to the corset extremists who are battling to win the title of tiniest waist. The current record holder is Cathie Jung from Manteo, North Carolina, who holds the Guinness World Record for smallest waist measuring a literally, breath-taking 15 inches.

Cathie, who is in her mid-seventies wears a corset 24 hours a day and only takes it off to shower; which means she’s breaking records in her sleep.

Jung laces up to fit into Victorian style clothing of the late 1800s, the era when corsets were at their most popular, with women pushing their bodies to the limit and drastically altering their body shapes to keep up with the latest fashion fad. Of course waist-cinchers were around way before the Victorian’s got their smallpoxy hands on them, with women trussing themselves up since the early 16th century.

The point is, this fashion fad died out for a reason. Besides being uncomfortable, causing back problems and putting limitations on women’s breathing (which in turn led to fits of hysteria, aka bitch fits), women should no longer feel the need to aspire towards the “perfect” hourglass body shape or any body shape that’s considered desirable, because the fact is that it just doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, women don’t work that way. We will continue to try and change ourselves in some way or other to fit with the latest fad, and waist training is just another hot flash in the pan before someone claims that eating lard is the diet de jour.

According to Waistshaper UK, an online seller of the body shapers, waist training with corsets worn 8-10 hours a day helps weight-loss and muscle strengthening. The idea is that the latex it’s made of will make the wearer sweat more than average, therefore sculpting the waist to the desired hourglass shape with the loss of all that water weight. I call that bullshit. I’m pretty sure you could wear a bin bag at the gym and you could achieve the same thing, but because Kim Kardashian hasn’t taken a selfie wearing one, I don’t think it’s quite caught on.


I’m really obsessed with waist training! Thank you @premadonna87 for my new waist shapers! #whatsawaist

A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on



With a handful of other slender celebs, including Jessica Alba, who also swears by waist training, it seems that women and girls are cinching up and forking out the going rate of £60 to follow suit. I would buy and test the effects of one myself, but having a strict student budget means that £60 would be better spent on train fares and fortnightly takeouts. A corset could downsize my food portions and would ensure I fitted into the smaller crevices of a rush hour tube carriage, but I just blew the last of my cash on a toastie maker. 

Most of these waist shaping websites recommend a little-and-often healthy diet, advise you to cut out sugar and greasy takeaways, drink about 2.5 litres of water a day and gradually start wearing your corset at the gym. You’ll be sure to see the effects of wearing your corset after just three weeks – and remember, consistency is key: the more you wear it, the slimmer your waist will be. This folks, is what we call a breakthrough.

Call me a sceptic, but unless you’re going at your waistline with a carrot peeler, you’re not going to be able to alter the shape of your waist by wearing tight, sweaty latex, right? Do dominatrixes have particularly lean physiques? Women around the world don’t have permanently perky boobs from wearing their over the shoulder boulder holders day in day out.

Hand me my bin bag. I’m off to start a new trend.

Feature illustration: Alexandra Shaw

Related posts

Can we focus on fashion trends instead of body trends?

3 Mins read
After the New York Post published an article stating that Heroin Chic was ‘back’, waving bye-bye to the ‘big booty’…

Jesus Is King: How Kanye West went non-secular

5 Mins read
Kanye has managed to divide everyone with his latest album release. We talk with its producer, Federico Vindver.

Why Kim Kardashian's nude selfie is important

5 Mins read
In light of International Women’s Day, Artefact explores why the female form is something worth celebrating