The corset is making a comeback, but is it safe?

If you’re one of the 23.1 million people who follow Kim Kardashian on Instagram, or the 15.7 million keeping up with her little sister Khloe, you’ve probably noticed the reality starlets have been sporting corsets and promoting something called “waist training.”  While this may be just another product push—the sisters are famous for getting paid massive amounts of money to promote the latest trends on social media—is it possible that they’re onto the next miracle weight loss tool?

“I’m really obsessed with waist training!” Kim captioned a photo of herself on her social media account, showing off an uncomfortable-looking girdle squeezing in her famous curves. “Thank you @premadonna87 for my new waist shapers! #whatawaist.”

Khloe exclaimed that she was “So in love” with her waist trainer, “I love working out with it for that extra push. Trying to snatch my waist up I may need a smaller size soon!” adding several hashtags promoting The Waist Gang Society, a corset company started by aspiring hip-hop musician Premadonna. 

According to the brand’s website, the wearer’s potential for waist reduction is around 7 inches. They also claim that “wearing waist training garments over a long period of time can change your body shape, and not just while you’re actually wearing the corset. Permanent changes are possible.”

But maybe there’s a reason these punishing garments fell out of favor in the 19th century. According to Larry Kaskel, MD, Medical Director of Northwestern Wellness Center, the potential risks of a corset outweigh the rewards. 

“The only reason someone should wear a corset in the 21st century is if they are going to a costume party or playing an extra on Downton Abbey,” he says. “Though wearing a corset for a long, extended period of time may cause some semi-permanent changes in body shape, it is very dangerous and not a long-term solution.”

According to Kaskel, some of the physical health risks of waist training include breathing problems, broken ribs, changes in posture and chronic back pain. He points out that wearing such uncomfortably restrictive garments can have a negative effect on mental health as well. 

“If you want the same look, I suggest wearing shapewear like Spanx,” he concludes. At least you won’t have to find somebody to lace you up in the morning.

Sources:

  1. Northwestern Wellness Center