To­tal waist

A warn­ing about the new fad known as waist train­ers: these mod­ern-day corsets may cause long-term dam­age.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Front Page -

The truth be­hind the waist-train­ing fad

Agroup of girls in cold-weather clothes hud­dle closely to­gether at a bus stop. Their colour­ful puffer jack­ets and coats con­ceal the lat­est phe­nom­e­non to hit high schools across the world. “It’s eas­ier to hide my waist trainer in the win­ter,” ex­plains Christina, 17, as she lifts up her lay­ers to show off her Coke-bot­tle shape, bound by a black la­tex corset dec­o­rated with skulls. “My last one had car­toon-char­ac­ter heads, but I like this bet­ter.” The front clasps and flex­i­ble fab­ric are a stretch from the first corsets, worn al­most 500 years ago, but these bright, play­ful pat­terns seem to mark an alarm­ing re­cent mar­ket­ing ef­fort tar­get­ing teenagers.

How it all started

The waist-train­ing craze is noth­ing new, re­veals Va­lerie Steele, di­rec­tor of The Mu­seum at the Fash­ion In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and au­thor of The Corset: A Cul­tural His­tory ( Yale Univer­sity Press, R680). “Dat­ing from 1559, mid­dle- and up­per-class women wore a stiff­ened un­der­gar­ment, usu­ally re­in­forced with

whale­bone or metal, and then laced up. They acted as waist cinch­ers and breast sup­port, but ladies wore them to be con­sid­ered at­trac­tive and re­spectable as well,” Va­lerie ex­plains. “It was also seen as a way to cre­ate an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion of a curvier fig­ure by push­ing fat around to make it look like you had a smaller waist, big­ger hips and larger breasts.”

By the 19th cen­tury, all classes wore corsets, but in the early 20th cen­tury, women moved on to rub­berised gir­dles and other shapewear. Even­tu­ally there was a shift away from such con­strict­ing gar­ments, and many women be­gan pri­ori­tis­ing diet and ex­er­cise to im­prove their phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance.

Fast for­ward to the age of In­sta­gram. Christina started sport­ing a waist trainer in 2014 af­ter Kim Kardashian West snapped a selfie wear­ing one and shared it. “I’ve al­ways thought that her body was amaz­ing, and when I saw that pho­to­graph I was like, ‘Oh, that’s how she does it!’” Christina re­calls.

The belly-cinch­ing band­wagon quickly picked up steam with Insta- en­dorse­ments from all three Kardashian sis­ters, as well as from Kylie Jen­ner and other stars.

Although many waist­trainer man­u­fac­tur­ers in­sist that the prod­uct is safe when the proper size is worn, some doc­tors paint an en­tirely dif­fer­ent pic­ture about the trend.

The risks

Pae­di­a­tri­cian and med­i­cal di­rec­tor Dr Dyan Hes breaks down the dan­gers of what she calls a “body­mod­i­fy­ing lie”. She says that MRI scans of women wear­ing a waist trainer clearly show the liver and kid­neys be­ing crushed, and the ribs press­ing into es­sen­tial di­ges­tive or­gans.

Dr Hes ex­plains that “The con­stant com­pres­sion can cause a lot of se­ri­ous prob­lems.” When in­ter­nal

or­gans are dis­placed, the re­sults are un­com­fort­able symp­toms, like gas or heartburn, and, over time, more threat­en­ing ail­ments, like stom­ach ul­cers and oe­sophagi­tis, which is the ir­ri­ta­tion or inflammation of the oe­soph­a­gus.

“There are sto­ries about waist train­ers frac­tur­ing ribs, but the force of this de­vice isn’t pow­er­ful enough to frac­ture bones,” Dr Hes re­veals. “How­ever, the com­pres­sion on the lungs makes it harder to breathe.” This type of air de­pri­va­tion over eight hours a day – the av­er­age rec­om­mended wear time – can re­sult in light­head­ed­ness, dizzi­ness, nau­sea and faint­ing.

Do they work?

All of this risk for what Dr Hes and other med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als in­sist is a tem­po­rary re­ward.

“There are no last­ing ben­e­fits. Putting this on will not make you thin­ner; it will only make you ap­pear thin­ner un­til you take it off. When you stop us­ing it, ev­ery­thing goes back to where it was be­fore,” Dr Hes points out.

The af­ter­math

The most se­ri­ous reper­cus­sion of this fad might not be phys­i­cal, but men­tal, sug­gests Dr Alexis Cona­son, a psy­chol­o­gist spe­cial­is­ing in body im­age.

“When you wear this un­com­fort­able con­trap­tion all day long, it’s a con­stant re­minder that there’s some­thing wrong with your body – that your body isn’t good enough as it cur­rently is,” Dr Cona­son warns. “That thought is in­cred­i­bly danger­ous and de­struc­tive for young women who al­ready have higher chances of de­vel­op­ing eat­ing dis­or­ders.”

The most com­monly dis­cussed eat­ing dis­or­ders are bu­limia and anorexia, but waist train­ing raises a dif­fer­ent kind of eat­in­gre­lated con­cern. When worn tightly, train­ers squeeze the ab­domen, mak­ing the wearer phys­i­cally un­able to eat enough food. This is why some peo­ple who waist­train re­port los­ing weight. Es­sen­tially, Dr Hes notes, women be­gin starv­ing them­selves, whether in­ten­tion­ally or not.

Why young women are get­ting hooked

“We buy into this myth that we need to pun­ish our­selves to in­spire our­selves to change,” Dr Cona­son ex­plains. “But re­cent re­search shows that when we de­velop a com­pas­sion­ate re­la­tion­ship with our bod­ies, we start to be ac­tive in ways that are fun, and we be­gin to eat in ways that are healthy. That’s where long-term changes and im­prove­ments come from.”

What are safe al­ter­na­tives?

Healthy diet and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise de­liver more pos­i­tive last­ing re­sults than waist train­ing ever will – and with­out the po­ten­tial haz­ards.

“Do some­thing that you en­joy, that leaves you mo­ti­vated to come back again,” rec­om­mends fit­ness ex­pert Tracy An­der­son.

Just say no

With over 795 269 pho­tos tagged # waist­train­ing cur­rently on In­sta­gram and nu­mer­ous celebrity en­dorse­ments flood­ing your feed, it might seem like ev­ery­one is sold on this risky trend – but there are plenty of young women and teens who’ve de­cided to pass on get­ting “waisted”.

Madisyn, 13, a Grade 7 stu­dent and avid soc­cer player, has heard about the fad, but doesn’t know any­one who uses a waist trainer. “I just don’t un­der­stand it,” she ad­mits. “I would never want to do that to my body.”

The only up­side to clos­ing the clasps on a waist trainer is a few hours of a body that’s bor­rowed. Bot­tom line: squeez­ing your­self into some­one else’s shape is an ex­tremely danger­ous waste of time.

“putting [a waist trainer] on will not make you thin­ner; it will only make you ap­pear thin­ner un­til you take it off.”

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