Sunday, 31 May 2015

Waist Training and #waisttraining - What's the Difference?

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a BBC journalist working for the BBC Trending programme which reports on social media trends.  She wanted to know more about the current trend for waist training and how the new so called waist training 'corsets', or fajas are becoming more popular because of social media - apparently the hashtag #waisttraining is currently one of the most popular!

I was keen to participate and so early in May, a team came to visit me at the Sew Curvy studio to talk about the differences between proper corset waist training, and the modern trend for #waisttraining whilst wearing an elastic band which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a 'corset'.

Now first things first, the piece wasn't about corsetry as we know it, but the BBC team were keen to understand the difference between real steel boned corsets, and elastic waist trainers known as fajas,  and how this modern trend for #waisttraining may have originated.  It has been a source of consternation for many a modern corset maker that when they receive requests to be interviewed of late, the journalist always mentions the 'new trend set off by Kim Kardashian' - sigh.  So here are some of my thoughts on why I think the whole thing is nonsense.

source - I do not believe the claim of the journalist in the article and note she does not provide photographic evidence of her 'weight loss' and 'smaller waist'.
Look closely at these two images - on the left is Kim Kardashian wearing her new waist trainer / faja.  You can clearly see here, that Kim's body is naturally curvy because she has a full bust and large rounded hips.  Her natural waist is smaller than both, hence curves - I would call this body type 'pear shaped' as most of the hip weight is slung quite low.  What she is wearing is basically a wide elasticated belt which would make any naturally curvy person look a little bit more curvy because it is squeezing the middle of the torso with the same pressure throughout, forming a tube.  On the left, a lady with a small bust, and narrow hips.  She has a naturally straight and athletic body type (not an apple as it states in the original article - an apple shape is where your underbust and hip are both smaller than your natural waist measure and is most often associated with an extremely over weight person).  The waist trainer in the right hand picture is not doing much to enhance the figure of the wearer although it is doing exactly the same job - forming her torso into the same tube shape as the left hand picture -  but with no rounded bust or hip to accentuate her small waist, there is no such extreme curvature visible.

What is the difference between the effect of a faja and the effect of a proper corset?

As we can see from the images above, there is no shaping in the faja, it is literally an elastic tube.  When putting it on, there is also no gradual pressure applied to mould the body into a certain shape - this is the sole purpose of corset lacing, if the 'extreme' hourglass shape in corsetry were not required, then laces would not be required either.  The faja fastens with hooks and eyes and only requires a little bit of pressure to close - because it is not shaped and cannot shape, it forms the mid-torso into a tube which is more likely to cause extreme discomfort than a dramatic silhouette.  In other words, a proper steel boned corset is shaped to enhance the waist, by redistributing fat in order to create the illusion of a smaller waist.  Or in the words of one of my students "It moves your fat around to make a nicer shape".  Both effects are completely temporary but a properly made corset will be safe and comfortable to wear.

Why do people think that Kim Kardashian is successfully #waisttraining?

Kim Kardashian has a natural hourglass/pearshaped figure.  She would look curvy with or without enhancement.  In common with most people who have a 'pear shaped' figure, if she wore a proper steel boned corset, her shape would become quite extreme with little or no effort at all.

Two of my students, Amy and her lovley mum, both 'pear shaped' and exhibiting a much more 'extreme' figure when corsetted with just a 2" reduction.

Student Roxanne with a corset made from exactly the same pattern as above, but with a straighter more 'athletic' figure, a 2" reduction still gives plenty of shape with only a little less drama.

What is the difference between the modern idea of #waisttraining in a faja and waist training in a proper corset?

These 'faja's' claim to be able to train any figure, permanently, into a classic hourglass shape if you wear them constantly including during vigorous exercise.  However my view is that this is a false claim for two reasons.  
  • Those who do not naturally have an 'hourglass' figure, will not be able to make one naturally by any means.  
  • The effect of waist training with a faja and waist training with a corset is temporary.  
Waist training in a proper corset will, over time, cause your waist to become smaller.  It is a non permanent form of body modification and requires a great deal of discipline.

Cathy Jung is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the worlds smallest waist at 15".  She started waist training with proper steel boned corsets in the 1980's to achieve this but if she stopped waist training tomorrow,  despite 35 years of waist training, her body would return to a more regular shape within a month.

So can a faja or a corset help you lose weight?

Controversially, my answer is a tentative yes!  BUT ONLY because they make you more aware of the changes your body goes through in a day.  If you eat too much, a faja will make you feel uncomfortable - very uncomfortable - it may even give you chronic indigestion.  That is the limit of the 'help' a faja can give and it is no different from wearing a piece of string around your waist, or as some more glamorous individuals use, a metal chain, or even a garment that is too tight.  A corset could do the same, but if you eat sensibly while wearing one, then you will naturally eat less or eat foods that are better for you, cause less bloating etc., - in this way and this way only, they are helpful for losing weight or keeping to a strict calorie controlled diet by keeping you mindful of what you are putting into your body.  

As for losing weight while exercising - yes, if you measure your waist before and after exercise in your elastic tube, you will see that you can lose up to 2 inches immediately.  This is water.   As soon as you have a drink, your 'weight' will go straight back on.  The same effect will be achieved with much less effort, by having what's known as a body wrap at your local salon - again, no fat loss, only water sweated out.


In short - there is no easy or magic way to achieve weight loss or a perfect figure quickly.  A good diet and regular exercise is all you need.  For a quick temporary fix to an hourglass figure, wear a proper steel boned corset.

My student Leanne wearing a Clessidra corset made by me.
This is the first time that Leanne has worn a hand made corset.  Look at those curves!

Fajas and the concepts behind them are ridiculous.  They do not change your shape permanently, they do not help you lose weight any more than a good dose of discipline, healthy eating and willpower, and most of all,  they do not enhance your figure and they are ugly.

Corsets are a form of body modification which also will not help you lose weight, and will not shape your body permanently even if you waist train for 40 years!  However, unlike a crude elastic belt, a properly engineered, steel boned corset for the modern figure, apart from being beautiful, will enhance your shape, will not cause medical problems, is not dangerous, and will make you feel a million dollars.

You can see the report on BBC Trending here

Anne-Marie, the BBC journalist from BBC Trending who came to interview me.  She is wearing the corset that was featured in the video.  It has over 80 steel bones in it, and is as comfortable as a second skin, whilst reducing the waist by four inches.  I think I might have converted her!

Further reading:

Website of Cathy Jung who trains her waist with corsets

An article about beginning waist training with corsetry, over at The Lingerie Addict, written by my friend and colleague,  fellow corset maker Marianne Faulkner

The best way to start making corsets - with a corset making kit from Sew Curvy.  The Sophia corset kit has pre-cut bones and is super super easy and will give uber curves with no effort at all!

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting article, I must be completely out of the loop because I did not know about this faja. Corsets are works of art, and yours make every woman here look beautiful.