When the Hourglass Runs Out: The Long-Term Effects of Compression Clothing



It goes without saying that in today’s society, there is one body type that is sought after above and beyond any other: the hourglass. This figure consists of a full breast and perky behind sandwiching a teeny-tiny waist in order to achieve maximum curves.


While this particular silhouette has been popularised over the past decade, it is by no means a recent fad. Popularised in the 18th century, women used tight corsets to achieve this snatched waist look in order to place emphasis on their wide hips and large skirts. While corsets are also making a comeback, they are replicated in style rather than function, meaning they do little to tighten the waist.


Nowadays, if someone is after that hourglass look then they might consider using the waist trainer. These products are specifically designed with the intention of training the body into that hourglass shape, doing so through tight lacing as well as appetite restriction. While this may help achieve the sexy curvaceous figure we all dream of, it certainly isn’t without its dangers.


Do we trust it?


Waist trainers were popularised around 2016, as influencers took to Instagram to advocate for waist slimming products. Namely the Kardashians, who voiced their dependency on waist trainers, alongside stars such as Nicki Minaj and Blac Chyna. While these celebs all flaunt their perfectly cinched waists and accredit their progress to the waist trainer, its crucial to remember the access they have to dieticians and personal trainers, as well as expensive surgeons that can help ensure their results remain long lasting.


Following this media publicity, waist trainers saw a boost in sales and an influx of users that swore by their ability to transform their figure after only a few short weeks. This proved them to be a good non-permanent solution for achieving your body goal – running into your ex at a bar seems a lot less daunting if you’re wearing one of these under your LBD. And if it becomes too restrictive or uncomfortable, you can easily remove and give your body a rest.


Another benefit of the waist trainers is their ability to teach habits. The idea behind them is to pair the product with clean eating and regular exercise in order to maintain your desired shape without the constant need for the trainer.


The rigid structure encourages better posture as slouching becomes uncomfortable when wearing the trainer, and the tight nature of the product acts as an appetite suppressant which encourages only eating until you’re full – also known as intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is a common practise for weight loss as it discourages overeating and endorses mindfulness surrounding food.


Don’t believe the hype


While waist trainers do have their benefits, they can also cause some serious problems, most of which come from overwearing them and disregarding the proper instructions for use. Most waist trainers recommend that you build up your tolerance over a matter of weeks, and that to see the maximum results they should be worn for a minimum of six hours. This leads to hours of restricted breathing and pressure on the midsection that can be extremely high-risk.


Due to the rigid structuring, a lot of your core muscles can deteriorate. This happens because the structure of the trainer does all the work supporting your spine and torso rather than your abdominal muscles, which can cause the muscles to weaken and shrink. A weak core can lead to worsened posture and back pain.


Another side effect of wearing the corset is the damaging of internal organs. As the main function of the waist trainer is an intense tightening around the waist, this leads to the internal organs being extremely restricted. The intense pressure can lead to the organs shifting and this restricts blood flow which can cause damage as severe as organ failure.


Perhaps most obviously, the pressure caused by the waist trainer can lead to difficulty breathing. They can restrict the air flow to the lungs up to 60%, which can lead to light-headedness and even fainting – think Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean falling off the balcony because of her corset kind of tight. Even after the trainer is removed the restriction of air can lead to long-lasting inflammation.


To train or not to train?


There is no doubt that waist trainers can look really good and give a much-needed confidence boost when we’re not feeling our best. They offer a relatively quick and easy answer to getting that perfect hourglass body type, and as a society we will always look for that easy option – even if that puts our health at risk.


While there is no guarantee that eating right and working out will land you your perfect body, sculpted to your preference, it is undoubtedly the safer option when it comes to restrictive clothing that can land you in hospital.


Ultimately, the idea of the perfect figure is a trend that changes like any other, so risking your health for something that may not be the ideal in two years’ time probably isn’t the way to go.