A new (and rather controversial) trend is sweeping the internet that promises its participants a perfect hourglass shape. It’s called “Waist Training”. Waist Training is the practice of using a steel boned corset to achieve slimmer curves around the waist. The corset is able to do this by pulling and clinching the floating ribs in tighter, and in some very extreme cases rearranging the internal organs, to reduce the circumference of the waist. The effects of this are semi-permanent, but require continual use and use after the desired look is achieved. These corsets can also be used to assist in losing weight, and improving posture although some users only wish to modify their waist.

I was first introduced this weird concept by one of by best friends in college. She had ordered one off Amazon and had been raving about it. Apparently she wore it every day for three hours max, and within a few weeks, her “muffin top” had completely slimmed down and was now a smooth curve. Out of curiosity, I asked to try it on. It took a solid three minutes between the two of us to get it on, as one can imagine, they are very tight, even at it’s loosest. To my surprise, it was not painful at all. It feels very much like a tight hug right around the waist, forcing you into perfect posture. I went out on a limb and ordered one myself. What can I say? The “freshmen 15” is real and my busy schedule made it difficult to get to the gym every week. Still a little skeptical about the whole thing, I wore it only a few times a week for an hour or two, at it’s loosest. Slowly increasing my time in it. I would wear it and go some cardio or go for walks. After the first month or so of wearing it, I found I could now easily tighten the corset to the next tightest setting having lost a little over an inch around my waist.

As I got more and more comfortable wearing with the waist trainer, I began to get more curious and decided to do a little more research on my own. Simply googling “waist training” you’ll find participants raving and ranting about how in good moderation, waist training is perfectly safe and shapes your natural curves. Gurus happily explaining their waist training routines. But you’ll also find many sources speaking about “the dangers of waist training”. Many consider how celebrities such as Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Jessica Alba, Amber Rose, and Kylie Jenner are swearing by and obsessing over waist trainers. However, they also site claims saying they do not work at all, or how some experts claim there is a risk to the lower intestines, compressing of the diaphragm (which could lead to pulmonary problems), other internal organ compression, skin infection or potential for kidney or lung issues.

Opposing viewpoints to this argue this can only be the case if the user uses a corset too excessively and skin infection is only possible for those who do not properly clean their waist trainer. Looking deeper into the opposition of waist trainers, I can only find the same several arguments over and over. Even on the Odyssey I found a plethora of articles saying “don’t try it, it’s dangerous”, “why you shouldn’t try it” or showing overly exaggerated images of women with the waist trainers sporting impossible waistlines. I found most of the articles to have misleading titles and to generalize all users into people attempting to dramatically shrink their waists in a very unhealthy way. Contrary to popular belief, in order for waist trainers to work, one must engage in some physical activity. You don’t just wear it for 10 hours and sit while it does some waist magic, making it impossible to breathe or eat. They work by forcing you to work harder at your workout and discourages overeating. If you wear it properly, so you can breathe, are comfortable, not cutting off circulation and for no more than about 4 hours a day, you can achieve a natural hourglass figure. By saying “waist training needs to stop”, “it is scary” etc, is stereotyping. It’s like saying “you diet, you could become anorexic”, well yes. That’s possible. But you can diet and be healthy about it. You can also waist train and be safe about it.

Now, I’m not one to follow the crowd and try all the latest fads or even listen to a word a Kardashian says. BUT. In my experience, I only put the waist trainer on to encourage myself to sit up straight and work a little harder during my at-home exercise regime. It works for me in helping me feel better about myself. You’re all flashing these images of celebrities with face-tuned images and models with unhealthy bodies. Yes, there are people out there wearing this damn thing for 10+ hours day, every day who are doing very destructive things to their bodies. But to say it’s completely useless, terrible for you and to shame anyone who does it without doing the proper research or knowing to what extent they use it, is wrong.