In addition to the sudden celebrity fascination with overlined lips and bold brows, waist-training has become the latest body-modification fad. Search Instagram and you’ll find that plenty of stars, such as Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, Nicki Minaj, Kourtney Kardashian, and Amber Rose have endorsed the amazing waist-whittling abilities of these modern-day corsets.
Some news outlets have decried the claims of celebrities as nothing more than wishful thinking. Critics, such as Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine tells Women’s Health, “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.” On the other hand, other medical professionals stand on the opposing side of the argument. According to Dr. Burton Korelitz, a Manhattan-based gastroenterologist, “A corset is not going to harm anything. You have my reassurance that in almost sixty years of practice it has never come up as a problem.”
Corsets are not a new phenomenon, despite the hyper-visibility in the media. The earliest corsets were fashioned out of whalebone, which is the keratinous material found around the upper jaws of baleen whales. However, the actual label of “corset” didn’t come into fashion until the early 1800s. I wonder why the waist-trainer is marketed as such, when surely it’s simply an old-fashioned corset? Ruben Soto, CEO of HourglassAngel.com, says no: “Today, the category of waist trainers includes workout bands, designed to wear while exercising as well as everyday waist cinchers (usually made with latex with hook and eye closures) to be worn for longer periods of time under clothing, as well as corsets (usually made of cotton with ribbon closure on the back).” Waist-training, it seems, is a modern beauty regimen that is simply influenced by the principle of wearing a corset.
Considering the back-and-forth discourse on waist-training, I had to try it for myself. I decided to experiment with a waist-training from Hourglass Angel, a company which not only sells waist-trainers, but an array of shapewear such as body shapers and girdles. Although there are waist-trainers specifically designed to be worn at the gym, I decided to try out the everyday model, the Classic Cincher by Amia ($54), which can be worn up to 10 hours a day. It’s made of 75% rubber covering and 25% cotton lining. The two columns of hook-and-eye closures allows you to adjust the tightness according to your comfort level and waist size. Sizes run from XS-2XL. In addition to the Classic Cincher, the Amia Active Band, which just launched in May, and the Ann Chery Workout Band, are the most popular products for Hourglass Angel. Soto adds, “An everyday waist trainer, like the Amia Cincher, provides slightly lower compression as they are designed to be worn for a longer period of time. Waist trainers used for exercising (like the Amia Active Band), provide higher or stronger compression to help increase sweating in the midsection and are meant to be worn for a shorter period of time.” Surprisingly, the Classic Cincher can be worn after pregnancy, unless the individual has certain health reasons that prevent waist-training.
I wore my Classic Cincher for a week and although I didn’t instantaneously achieve an hourglass figure, it certainly wasn’t as painful as some naysayers claim. The first day I wore it was probably the most uncomfortable. Wearing it for about eight hours while I was at work had an immediate effect on my appetite; I picked at the lunch I’d packed. On a positive note, it did improve my posture. As the week went on, the discomfort was less noticeable and it became easier to fasten the hook-and-eye closures. In the middle of the week, I decided to be a little too ambitious and went for the second set of hooks. I wasn’t prepared for the tightness of the waist-trainer and thus had to remove it after about three hours of wear. For those who are worried about allergies, Soto says, “We generally recommend that people wear a tank top underneath their waist trainer, which can help alleviate latex allergies depending on how severe the allergy is. If the latex allergy is severe, we don’t recommend wearing latex waist trainers, we’d recommend non-latex waist trainers.”
Overall, I highly doubt that I shaved any inches off of my waist in such a short time, but it did create smoother lines when wearing my clothes. After a week, I actually got used to wearing the waist-trainer. The key to achieving any sort of results with waist-training is realizing that it’s a gradual process. Jasmine Pagan, Head Seamstress of Sin and Satin, explains to Racked, “The process of waist training is one of disciple and requires a daily regimen to refine the silhouette.” Soto echoes Pagan’s assessment: “Waist training is a process that, over time and when combined with exercise and healthy eating, can provide a solution to waist reduction. Wearing a waist trainer will give you that immediate slimming look.”
If you’re thinking about trying waist-training, here are some important parting tips, via Soto:
1) Follow the size chart to buy the correct size waist trainer. Like a bra, a well-fitted waist trainer is key to comfort and providing results.
2) Ensure that the trainer is not too tight. A person’s body can change daily, so at times clothing can fit more loose or tight as the day goes on. Take the garment off if it’s causing pain or difficulty breathing normally.
3) Wash the waist trainer every few days with gentle shampoo, especially if it is worn often. The washing and drying process helps the waist trainer maintain its shape. Consider multiple trainers.
As with any new diet and/or exercise regimes, speak to your physician if you have any major concerns.
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