Why You Might Not Want to Jump Onto That Waist Training Bandwagon—Experts Weigh In!

Experts weigh in on the celebrity waist training trend

By Nicole Adlman Apr 07, 2015 3:45 PMTags
Waist TrainersInstagram

One of the biggest celeb trends this season has nothing to do with flirty fruits, must-have prints or punchy spring pumps—it's actually all about the hourglass (body shape, that is).

Waist training has become the go-to fitness hack for celebrities who want to trim their middles in time for what we're sure will be a body envy-inducing bikini season. Kim Kardashian, sisters Kourtney Kardashian and Khloé Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and Kim Zolciak have all purportedly used the waist training method to enhance (or exaggerate, really) their hourglass figures. 

But is jumping back a few centuries for the corset training trend really worth it? We had to find out, which is why we asked experts in the field to tell us whether sucking it in corset-style can actually lead to a slimmer figure—or if it's all really smoke and selifies mirrors. And you might be surprised what they reveal!

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Pouya Shafipour, M.D., of Wellesley Medical in Los Angeles believes that waist training has more to with feeling confident than actually losing fat from the waistline. (His view may explain why women like Jessica Alba have reportedly used corsets after pregnancy.)

"[Waist training] is not so much about medical results. It makes you feel more confident. It makes you want to exercise more," he explained.

Dr. Shafipour does however use a similar device for obese patients—corset-tight clothing that helps shape excess fat after weight loss: "For people that are heavier, these physically give them a lot more mobility. And psychologically it provides a feel-good effect, makes them stand straight. A lot of the benefits involve just feeling better, feeling slimmer and feeling taller," he said. "It gives them a lot of confidence to do things that they probably normally wouldn't."

Mike Marsland/WireImage

Some celebs have worn corsets for work instead of weight loss, like Cinderella's Lily James, who was made to take on a liquid diet of sorts when sporting her ultra-tight corset in the film.

"When [the corset] was on we would be on continuous days so we wouldn't stop for lunch or a lovely tea like this—you'd be sort of eating on the move," James told E! News in March. "In that case, I couldn't untie the corset. So if you ate food it didn't really digest properly and I'd be burping all afternoon in [Richard Madden]'s face, and it was just really sort of unpleasant. I'd have soup so that I could still eat but it wouldn't get stuck."


Beyond being forced to eat less (or liquid-only) while wearing the corset, there may be some internal risks involved: Dr. Paul Nassif, of E!'s own Botched reality series, has concerns about the severe compression involved with wearing increasingly smaller corsets.

"I'm worried about what effect it has on the lower intestines with pushing the contents into the pelvic region," he said. "That is a [concern], in addition to compressing the diaphragm, which causes pulmonary problems. Basically, there is potential for internal organ compression causing kidney, gastrointestinal and lung issues."

Beyond internal organ damage, risks include skin infection if the corset is worn too tight, as well as scarring for the same reason. Another problem could be the obsession factor—especially for naturally-thin individuals who choose this as a daily tummy-tightening routine.


Further, Dr. Nassif suggests that there are no real long-term effects of wearing a waist training device: "They will visibly streamline the appearance of the body, but do not have any permanent slimming effects," he said. "The results are not 'real' based on the fact that the individuals who wear the waist trainer have the same body fat percentage as they did prior to putting the device on. Diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle are by far the best guidelines to follow for individuals who want to stay fit and pride themselves in looking their best."

Well, there you have it! And sorry waist training addicts: It may be better to wear these corsets with caution, if it all.

—Additional reporting by Noelia Murphy