My Corset Journey

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I've just been contacted by the BBC to talk about teenagers and waist training, so I thought it was the perfect time to talk about my waist training journey. I first became interested in corsets in my early 20s, while working at fetish store Skin Two. At that time fetish stores were the only place you could find corsets and in pre-internet days information about waist training was hard to find.

We referred to magazines like Fakir Musafar's Body Play (nsfw) and somehow, somewhere, I came to own a photocopy of Ethel Granger's waist training story. The information I had at this time made it all sound very serious. Waist trainers would wear their corsets 23 hours a day, 7 days a week and only take them off to bath. So although I wore corsets regularly in my 20s, I never referred to myself as a 'waist trainer' as in my mind that was something completely different.

Fast forward 20 years and today we have women putting on a latex tube for 10 minutes to take a carefully staged Instagram selfie calling themselves waist trainers. How times have changed!

Katie before waist training

Above: Katie before waist training.

What is a Corset?

When I talk about corsets, I mean garments made from non stretch fabric, that are fully steel boned and have laces at the back to tighten them. Most have a steel busk, but real corsets can be made without a busk front opening too.

The 'waist trainers' that are worn by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian are latex or neroprene tubes with a hook and eye fastening. They will not help you lose weight. They will not change your body shape. They will not enhance your waist. While you are wearing one it might feel like it is doing something, but as soon as you remove it, your body will go back to normal.

Why Waist Train?

When corsets started to become popular a couple of years ago, I really did think that my days of wearing corsets regularly were over. However, there were so many ridiculous claims going around that I thought I'd give it a go, simply to see what happened, and eventually report back to you.

I've now been wearing a corset 7 days a week for between 10-12 hours for 2 years. It is extremely rare that I go for a day without wearing one at all - maybe once every couple of months.

So what are the results?

Before and after. I started with a natural 29" waist and wore our Baby Corset in a size 24" with quite a big gap at the back. After 4 months I was able to close the size 24" corset comfortably. When you start wearing a corset regularly (I'm still loathe to call what I do waist training) it's common to see results relatively quickly. Unfortunately you lose the results even more quickly and within minutes of removing the corset my body would return to it's old shape.

Katie after waist training

Above: After wearing a corset for 2 years

By November 2015 I was comfortably closing a size 22" corset. When I remove my corset my waist measured 25-26", but by the next morning it would hover around 27". As I wear a corset daily I don't know how long it would take to go back to my original measurement of 29" but I'm guessing not long.

While my body hasn't changed, it appears that it does get used to being squished, which means I have been able to gradually wear a smaller size of corset. I currently wear a size 20" but am not planning to go any smaller. All of my corsets are standard What Katie Did corsets with no amendments to pattern or construction.

Corset Q & As

1. How long does it take to get a permanent result?

More than 2 years! Cathie Jung, the lady with the current smallest waist in the world, is on record as saying she didn't put on any inches to her waist when she couldn't wear her corset for 2 weeks due to surgery. However, she wore her corset 23/7 for over 20 years before this so no doubt her body has adapted to the shape her corset gives it. Certainly the bodies of other long term waist trainers (and I'm talking 23/7 for a period of years) have returned to normal after time so I can safely say that no results are permanent.

2. Do corsets help you lose weight?

In my case I've put on weight since wearing a corset. I can eat, I can drink while wearing a corset. In the short term (first couple of weeks) you might find yourself eating less, but after that your body adapts.

3. Are corsets dangerous?

At What Katie Did we don't recommend 'proper' steel boned corsets to be worn if the person is under 18. Before this time the skeleton is rapidly changing and shouldn't be put under a lot of pressure. I don't believe that Kardiashian style neroprene waist trainers are dangerous at all, as I doubt a teenager would wear one for long enough for it to become an issue, after a couple of weeks with no progress and once all their friends had seen it'll no doublt be cast aside.

There has been no recent evidence to suggest that corsets are dangerous. While lots of Doctors say that corsets are bad for your health, they are referencing articles from the 19th century. No medical research papers on corsets have been published by Doctors in recent years. Several corsetieres and waist trainers have tried to find information about corsets being dangerous, but have found no proof.

In 2014 Dr. Eckhart von Hirschhausen (Germany) peformed a MRI scan on a tight lacer in a specially made corset to see how wearing a corset changed the body. He found nothing that could cause an issue, other than the fact that it 'might' cause slow digestion.

4. Can you breath?

Yes. Your lungs are positioned above your waist and protected by your ribcage. While the lower part of your ribcage can be compressed by wearing a corset, particularly for long term more extreme waist trainers, there is enough room to breath normally. I walk 4 miles to work every day while wearing a corset with no difficulty, but would I climb a mountain in one? No.

5. What About Muscle Atrophy?

If you plan to wear a corset 23/7, 7 days a week then muscle atrophy should be a concern of yours. I spend at least 12 hours a day without my corset and do yoga several times a week, not only to keep my back muscles strong, but for general fitness. Everyone should exercise whether they wear a corset or not.

While I haven't noticed any muscle atrophy during my waist training journey, I have been known to remove my corset and immediately launch into a sun salutation. If I do this (and I don't recommend it!) the muscles at the side of my waist do feel a little funny. This is obviously due to the fact that they've been supported for several hours. If I leave 10 minutes before doing any yoga my muscles feel totally normal.

What Happens When You First Put On A Corset?

So what can you expect when you first put on a corset? The result will depend on your body type. If you have a very muscular torso you will find it harder to get an hourglass shape as muscle doesn't squish in the same way as body fat. Last weekend we photographed Frenchie L'Amour who turned out to be the idea corset model.

Model without a corset

Frenchie L'Amour, with no corset

Model with a waist cincher

Frenchie L'Amour, wearing our Glamour Waspie. Our Glamour Waspie (and Waist Cincher) are the closest thing we make to a Kardashian style waist trainer. It's designed to be worn under clothing to accentuate the waist. Unlike waist trainers, our waspies and cinchers incorporate an elastic waist tape to accentuate the waist line. Modern waist trainers don't feature a waist tape so squeeze your torso uniformly.

Model in a corset

Frenchie L'Amour in our Extreme Riding Corset. Frenchie doesn't waist train and she was the third model I'd tried to photograph in our Extreme Riding Corset which is really designed for people who have out-shrunk our standard version. Even she only wore it for a few minutes as she did find it too restrictive. You can clearly see the difference in body shaping this non stretch corset has when compared to the stretch version.