Corsets Are Making a Comeback: What You Need to Know

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To the ways you can attempt to whittle your waist — Slim-Fast, side planks — add one more: Corset training.

The method, which requires you to cinch yourself into a corset for four to six hours a day, is popular with celebrities and has been intriguing many other women seeking hourglass shapes. 

Both Kim and Khole Kardashian have tried it. Kim posted a picture of herself yesterday in her mom’s foyer wearing a corset — hers is from a company called “What A Waist” — with the caption “I’m really obsessed with waist training!”

Jessica Alba is a fan, too. She actually wore two at the same time to help her lose weight after both of her pregnancies. “It was brutal; it’s not for everyone,” she told Net-A-Porter. “I wore a double corset day and night for three months. It was sweaty, but worth it.”

Self-described “corset fetishist” Kelly Lee Dekay, 27, has been doing corset training for seven years, and claims she has a 16-inch waist because of it. “I loved how Batman’s outfit let him channel a different side of himself,” she told the Sun. “That’s what the corset does.” 

Women have worn corsets for ages. In the 1500s, they smashed down their entire torso. Later, in the late 1800s or Victorian era, they were used to help define the waist. It’s thought that the reason ladies back then were always fainting was because their corsets were squeezing their internal organs and restricting their breathing.

In these modern times, however, women now think that wearing a corset can actually help you lose weight. The Cincher by AMIA claims, “[It can] sculpt inches from your midsection and enhance your curves while increasing thermal activity in your core.

According to TheCorsetDiet.com, you can shed up to six pounds a week by wearing one of their custom-made waist shapers. The UK-based company describes the pressure from its corsets as “gentle hugging feeling.” 

But when writer Rebecca Harrington tried wearing one, albeit from a different brand, she wrote on NYMag.com, “My breathing is slightly impaired, but I can still breathe; I just have to take short, staccato breaths. I try to drink coffee, and it’s very difficult. After four hours, I whip off the corset and throw it across the room. My waist has red welts on it.” 

In reality, doctors say that the corset is not — I repeat not — helping you reshape your body with simple pressure. It’s simply so tight around your stomach that you won’t — or can’t — eat too much, and doctors roundly decry any kind of corset diet or waist training as a viable long-term weight loss method. 

"It’s outrageous, and it just absolutely makes no medical sense whatsoever," Keri Peterson, M.D., a physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York told Women’s Health

It also could be dangerous. Wearing one could actually shift or compress your internal organs and fracture your ribs, Dr. Jyotindra Shah said. “People might put it so tight that the liver, spleen and kidneys could get bruised,” she told The Huffington Post

Even “corset fetish” Dekay knows she has to remove hers sometimes. “It can be restrictive when climbing stairs,” she told the Sun. “You can’t carry heavy things as you could hurt yourself. I don’t go to the gym in it. That would be very dangerous as I lift weights.”