This article was written in response to a reader who felt that I had not fully emphasized the dangerous outcomes of waist training in the interview with nutritionist Christina Meyer-Jax. There is relatively little information about this new trend available to the public, since it is so new, however we can compare it to the effects of wearing a modern-day corset to achieve unnaturally thin waists. More and more women are putting their bodies through uncomfortable and painful body-altering devices in order to comply with the beautiful, thin women we see every day in our media. The women who are said to have made this trend so popular are the Kardashian sisters, who each have a million or more followers on Instagram and Twitter, the majority of them being young, impressionable women who look up to them as role models.
For those of you who don’t know, waist trainers are a “…band of material that wraps tightly around the waist and lower rib cage to provide an instantly slimming, hourglass look”. In order to see maximum results, it is suggested that you should work your way up to wearing the band eight hours a day, sometimes up to 12 hours a day.
There is also a waist trainer that can be used while working out called, “…a sport body wrap made of nylon and neoprene—is meant to be worn around the waist during exercise, with the intention of promoting ‘intense sweating,’” (According to news.health.com). Most young women in the media are actually using this device after pregnancy in order to “get back to their pre-baby body”, like actresses Jessica Alba and Jennifer (JWOWW) Farley.
In today’s society, we prefer quick results that we can actually see, but is it really worth putting our bodies through such grueling pain and discomfort in order to have an unnaturally small waist that will just go back to normal after discontinued use?
“The waist trainer does not actually get rid of fat, but rather pushes it down to lower parts of your abdomen and hips. This is all temporary and not a long term solution for weight loss. It is pretty much a gimmick with some short-term minor benefits. In the long term, this does not lead to lifestyle and habit change that requires dedication to healthy eating and exercise,” said Christina Meyer-Jax, M.S., R.D., nutritionist at St. Catherine University.
“Medically, it doesn’t make sense that cinching your waist tightly will make it permanently smaller. Once you take the garment off, your body will return to its usual shape. It’s also uncomfortable, restricts your movements, and if you wear it really tight, it can even make it difficult to breathe and theoretically could cause rib damage,” said Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine.
So what techniques actually work to shed pounds around the stomach region? Eating healthy and being active on a regular basis. Doctors and health experts alike hope that this trend will not last much longer due to the serious dangers and risks that the waist trainers have on women’s bodies.
“It also does not allow for full expansion of the lungs (not a real smart idea for working out in). Because of the tightness around the waist, it may decrease food intake as there is also not a lot of room for stomach expansion,” said Meyer-Jax.
Have we, as women, become so much more preoccupied with getting back to our pre-baby bodies that wearing a modern-day corset seems more appealing than focusing on exercising and eating healthier while taking care of this new life we created? The problems do not necessarily reside with just the waist trainer, but rather the tendency to compare oneself to women in the media, who we try to emulate, looks wise. In reality, most of these celebrities go through hours of professional makeup and hair styling with personal stylists, athletic trainers, and personal chefs in order to look the way they do. As we know, this is not what your everyday woman has access to.
If you want to have a smaller like waist to accentuate your curves, eating healthy and exercising are the healthy things that young women should be doing, not using the torturous, damaging, corset-like waist trainer. Women have truly come a long way from the Victorian-era corsets that they were required to wear because it appealed to men, so why are we bringing back this crippling trend? In the end we must ask ourselves, who are we wearing these waist trainers for?