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Dr. Oz Investigates Waist Training: My Response

On February 12, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz took on the topic of waist training for a second time in his show titled “Dr. Oz Investigates Waist Training – Is It Safe?”. I suspected this would happen, as in October you may remember that Dr. Hirschhausen (another celebrity doctor in Germany) performed the first known MRI scan on a tightlaced subject.

A month later in November, Oz’s producers contacted me about doing a second segment about waist training on the show (in which I declined to participate since I had seen his angle on it the first time).

Ann Grogan (Romantasy Exquisite Corsetry) has already responded to Dr. Oz in an open letter on her own blog, but I have also been asked by a dozen or so people to write my own response – make no mistake that I am not a medical expert, but I do believe that the results are worth talking about and sharing. I’d like this to become a conversation between the corsetry and medical industries, and for us to come to a mutual understanding that not all shapewear is the same and not all of them are suitable for all applications (including and especially waist training).

Oz’s segment can be viewed here, and I will address each concern in order.

First video: theoretical discussion and MRI results  

Corsets can theoretically squeeze your lungs, compress the ribs and reduce oxygen intake

This is true if the corset is not made to fit your body and deliberately tightened to reduce the size of the ribcage. It’s also more likely to be true with an overbust corset rather than an underbust, as it encases more of the ribcage. In my article about corsets, lungs and breathing, I address some common concerns and myths regarding corsets and respiratory infections. My response article to the “Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home” episode on corsets also showed that the maximum loss to the reporter’s vital capacity was about 10%, even after strapping on an overbust corset for the first time, lacing down several inches immediately (and over a bulky sweater) and then proceeding to sprint up and down a staircase repeatedly for several minutes – altogether a scenario that would have never happened in the Victorian era.

There are corsetieres who are dedicated to patterning their corsets to deliberately curve around the ribcage and accommodate the ribs instead of affecting their position, for those who find it more comfortable and prefer this silhouette. Now, it is possible to reduce the lung capacity slightly simply by the nature of pushing up the stomach and diaphragm slightly, but again this depends on the reduction held – and in many cases the temporary reduction in capacity is small enough that it would only be noticeable in situations of hard exertion, not tidal breathing (a normal breath while at rest only uses about 15% of the vital lung capacity, and many sedentary people very rarely use their full capacity).

Myself (Lucy) wearing a cupped-rib hourglass corset made by Sugarkitty, designed to compress only the waistline and not the rib cage.
Myself (Lucy) wearing a cupped-rib hourglass corset made by Sugarkitty, designed to compress only the waistline and not the rib cage.

Corsets can cause acid reflux

If the stomach is pushed up, heartburn is possible – especially if you eat a semi-large meal prior to lacing up (but who does that?). Corsets can exacerbate reflux in those people who already suffer from GERD (a condition caused by a loosened lower esophageal sphincter, production of too much stomach acid, hiatal hernia, abdominal obesity, etc).

Pregnancy can often cause heartburn, not only because the baby is competing for space and pushing up on the stomach, but also because the elevated hormones can cause the sphincter of the stomach to relax. Common tips given to pregnant women include eating small meals (and eating slowly), avoiding foods that are commonly known to bring on heartburn (like spicy food and caffeine), and keeping hydrated and drinking fluids throughout the day – all healthy tips that can be done anyway, and all tips that have helped corset wearers to avoid reflux as well. I eat small, regular meals by choice and I cannot remember one incident of heartburn I’ve experienced while wearing a corset.

Some may be interested to read Sarah Chrisman’s experience in how wearing a corset had helped to stop her GERD (which she previously believed was a chronic, hereditary condition that she’d have to deal with for life).

That said, if you know that you experience GERD, if you have a hernia or any other health condition, it’s always a good idea to speak with your trusted medical professional before trying a corset.

MRI results of a waist trainer

For contrast, I want to compare Dr. Oz’s methodology and subsequent results with the MRI results of a tightlacer on Dr. Hirschhausen’s show. On Hirschhausen’s show, Eden Berlin (the tightlacer and willing subject) wore a custom fit corset made by Tonia of Korsett Manufaktur Tomto, specially constructed with plastic synthetic whalebone instead of steel, and also nonferrous grommets so as not to react in the MRI machine. The results demonstrated how a well-fit corset does not seem to drastically affect the morphology or position of kidneys or lungs. Even her liver looked similar in shape and simply shifted upwards slightly. The only organ that got ‘trapped’ was her transverse colon, and Eden mentioned that she had been rushed in putting on the corset and lacing down 5 inches within mere minutes – she said that if she had more time to lace down slowly and properly, she may have been able to shift that colon down appropriately, as Fran Blanche describes in her tightlacing articles “The Cycle Method” and Divide and Conquer”.

Why corsets are not the same as stretch shapewear

I have several criticisms with the way Dr. Oz performed his version of the experiment, namely the fact that he used a rubber cincher instead of a corset. It’s understandable that they would opt for this, as 1) the rubber faja is gaining popularity as exercise gear these days, and 2) since it tends to contain no metal, it is a quick and easy ‘substitute’ for steel boned corsets.

I have been over the superficial differences between rubber cinchers and corsets before, as well as given my response regarding other types of shapewear, but this MRI experiment revealed something else to me: rubber cinchers create an even pressure over the whole torso instead of focusing the majority of the restriction at the waistline, meaning that the wearer has little control over what’s “squished” and what’s not.

Elastic latex/rubber waist cincher or faja
Lucy wearing a rubber waist cincher or faja. Although there is not as much compression as my usual corsets, what pressure IS there cannot be controlled or concentrated.

The way a stretchy rubber or neoprene faja is constructed, it is not custom-fit to the individual’s anatomy, and it’s designed to compress everywhere that it touches – from the ribcage to the hips. It will compress whatever gives the least resistance, whether that is the sides of the waistline or the front and back; whether that includes the floating ribs or not (Marianne has an article on The Lingerie Addict about different the compression feels between corsets and shapewear). Because each individual has a different amount of muscle tone or body fat percentage, because each person has very slight differences in position and size of their internal organs, because the exact amount of compression on the body is difficult to control because it fastens with hooks and not laces, it’s very difficult to predict how the outcome would look in each person. Only two days ago someone commented on my site asking if it’s normal to experience uncomfortable pressure on the back from rubber cinchers (to answer this quickly: pain is never normal; if you ever experience discomfort, the responsible thing to do is to loosen or remove the garment).

By contrast, a corset can be drafted to accommodate each person’s individual anatomy and we can control exactly where the compression is occurring and how much (0 inches, 2 inches, 4 inches) due to the adjustability of the laces.

In a custom-fit corset, there is a gradient of pressure that is maximized at the skeletal waistline (the squishy area below the ribs and above the pelvis), dissipating to zero compression up over the ribcage and down over the hips. The compression is also focused primarily laterally (on either side of the body, and not from front and back). In most cases, a strong front busk will prevent dishing or collapsing of the waistline in the front of the body, and a proper corset is also specially drafted to ensure no compression of the back, as it should support a healthy posture and maintain a proper lumbar curve. A well-fitting corset should be drafted in such a way that if the organs come into play, then the hollow membranous organs like the intestines flatten in response to the compression, and the corset should not affect the retroperitoneal organs such as the kidneys, as shown in Hirschhausen’s results.

Stand-up MRI imaging vs traditional reclining patient

Dr. Oz used a stand-up MRI facility to do the test, which may show a slightly different view of the organs compared to the conventional MRI scans where the patient is lying down. I believe that stand-up and positional diagnostic imaging is a fantastic tool, especially considering that most corset-wearers are standing or sitting for most of their day and not reclining – but this also means that Oz’s results cannot truly be accurately compared with Hirschhausen’s, since the position of the organs may shift slightly depending on the body’s position, with or without a corset.

My friend and fellow tightlacer Michael informed me that when internal diagnostic imaging was first discovered (e.g. X-rays where you could see the positions of solid organs like the heart and liver against less dense organs like the lungs), there were several unnecessary surgeries performed to “correct” the position of the organs. Before stand-up imaging, physicians’ only knowledge of organ positions in the human body came from examining corpses (who were obviously reclining) and from performing surgeries (where patients were also reclining), and they didn’t realize that the organs can and do slightly shift from standing to lying down.

I’m currently investigating this history further to verify the details – but it’s easy to imagine how, for instance, breasts can look incredibly different from standing to reclining even with the presence of Cooper’s ligaments keeping them relatively in place, so it’s not hard to believe that the position of the organs can also slightly shift from standing to reclining as well, despite ligaments and the visceral membrane keeping them relatively in place.

It’s not known whether Oz’s subject was scanned while standing up or lying down, as the brief video clip merely showed her “spinning” somewhat in the machine. Perhaps she wasn’t standing nor completely reclining but was at a slight incline. It is also unknown whether the angle of imaging with and without her rubber cincher had been performed at the same angle. If they had by chance been performed at different angles, this change in position may have skewed the results from the cincher.

Should we be scared by a grooved liver?

Dr. Oz expressed some shock upon discovering indentations in the woman’s liver caused by the ribcage – I was hoping that he would explain how such indentations would prove deleterious but unfortunately it was not mentioned (or the clip was cut short). However, indentations of the liver are not all that uncommon. Although the liver is one of the more solid organs, it is still described as pliable, and the shape and size naturally varies.

In a 1986 publication in the JPMA, the liver shapes of 500 live humans were studied via radio-colloid imaging. Over 15% of the subjects showed indentations of some kind on the liver, and these are from healthy individuals who were not wearing corsets. This is consistent with the indented livers I’ve seen in rat dissections in school. These slight variances in liver morphology are not necessarily tied with the health of the individual.

Another issue to bring to light is that organ crowding and indentations may also occur in those who are pregnant, those who have a high percentage of visceral (intra-abdominal) fat, and those who have skeletal issues like scoliosis, which shortens the torso and the amount of space for the organs within it – yet particularly in the last case, bracing a scoliosis patient often involves torso compression of a couple of inches, in the interest of stabilizing and correcting the spine – would this not further compress the organs of a person who is already experiencing compromised organ space? The history of the modern brace lies in corsetry, and research in the physiological effects of corsetry is not a vain apologist activity. More research into the functional effects of organ crowding may lead to new innovations in the medical field as well.

The Sforzesco brace for scoliosis
The Sforzesco brace for a scoliosis patient creates an hourglass silhouette similar to that of a corset. Click through to read more about this brace.

Video 2: Interview with Dr. Nicole Florence, bariatrician

Can Waist Training lead to Weight Loss?

Dr. Florence states that there is no clinical evidence that waist training can result in weight loss. That’s not for want of trying though, as a 2010 study by Wikstrand et al attempted a trial of wearing “soft corsets” for a period of 9 months to maintain weight loss – however, the results could not be properly evaluated due to low compliance (the subjects didn’t wear their corsets). I was as disappointed as the next person.

I tend to agree that weight loss is not necessarily guaranteed with the use of a corset, and the corset should not be treated as a substitute for diet or exercise (I’ve spoken at length about this before) – however, it can be seen as a non-surgical aid in many individuals. As mentioned above, I would personally be delighted to perform long-term studies on corset wearers, and rely on real data instead of anecdotes, given the funds and the opportunity. Universities and research centers may feel free to contact me if you’d like me to lead a proper trial in your facility. (I’m not kidding.)

Since Dr. Florence is a bariatrician, I would also like to study real quantifiable health risks associated with moderate corset wear as compared with gastric band surgery, where 10-20% of patients require a second procedure to correct complications, up to 30% of patients develop nutritional deficiencies / absorption disorders, and up to 33% of patients develop gallstones according to the Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, with a 53% chance of gaining the weight back within 15 years according to this 2013 study. If I were in the position to opt for either bariatric surgery or corsets, I’d personally try the corsets first, but that’s just my subjective stance.

Do corsets lead to eating disorders?

I have always tried to tread lightly on this subject as it is a sensitive topic for many. Dr. Florence believes that wearing corsets can create body dysmorphic disorder or distorted body image, and there was implication that the corset may become a gateway to eating disorders or more drastic body modification.

It’s my personal belief that body dysmorphia starts in the mind and then the body follows, not the other way around. Extreme weight loss associated with conditions like anorexia are the later symptoms – the physical manifestations of the psychological/ emotional struggle that has already existed in the person for months or years prior. Is it possible that some people who already have body dysmorphic disorder or eating disorders use corsets as a tool? Yes, I would say that it’s probable that some individuals use corsets for this reason, but it’s insulting to imply that all people who wear corsets are at risk of developing an eating disorder or are already there, especially as I have personally seen corsets used to help some of my friends overcome their personal body image issues and fall in love with their own body. I don’t believe that corsets cause body image issues any more than bra cutlets would contribute to delusions about one’s own natural breast size, or high heel shoes would create insecurity in one’s natural height.

Other health concerns mentioned

Dr. Florence says that corsets can cause pneumonia (again, I’ve written about pneumonia in this article), and that they can cause constipation (I’ve addressed this in my Corsets and Toilet Issues article, although more and more I’m hearing from viewers how abdominal compression has helped keep them regular, interestingly). She also wrote that corsets can cause chronic pain and bruising, to which I respond that if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong. Pain or bruising when wearing a corset is never ever ever ever normal – and if this is happening, then you are using a corset that is not the right shape for you, or you’re cinching too tight, too fast, or for too long a duration than your body is ready for.

She also mentioned that corsets can cause fainting – she erroneously stated that the origin of “fainting couches” had their origin in the Victorian era to catch women fainting from their corsets, which is known to be untrue. The Chaise Longue has existed for well over 2000 years. Corsets may have caused fainting in Victorian women if overtightened (which was not unheard of during balls and other special events), and yes corsets can affect blood pressure, but women also fainted from exhaustion, dehydration, low blood sugar, overheating and overexertion, just as many people faint today without a corset. Victorian ladies also faked fainting because it was the cool thing to do.

In summary, I don’t believe that Dr. Oz gave the last word or drove the nail in the coffin for waist training, but I do think it’s important to take all information into account. Recall that after Hirschhausen’s episode on corsets, I said, “I would love to repeat this MRI study with different tightlacers to see how the positions of organs change slightly depending on the individual, the silhouette of corset worn, the reduction of the corset, and how long they’ve been training.” My position hasn’t changed; on the contrary, Dr. Oz’s contribution has only strengthened my resolve.

If we’re to truly understand the physiological effects of corsetry, we need a sample size of more than 1, we need some consistency in the type of corset used (not simply *any* compression garment) and we need a consistent method of imaging.

51 thoughts on “Dr. Oz Investigates Waist Training: My Response

  1. I realize this is an older post but I recently found your site. I love it by the way! Anyway, the Dr. Oz clip really bothered me. I am an xray tech currently and did MRI several years ago. I noticed that the images he is showing with and without the waist trainer are at different levels of her body. The corseted slice looks like it is a bit more posterior than uncorseted so the organs look thinner. I thought he was purposefully being false to prove his point.

    1. Thank you for your insight Meghan! That’s a fascinating point and now that you mention it, I think I see what you mean.

  2. Lucy, do you recommend avoiding corsets for those with lots of abdominal fat?

    Due to a medical condition, I’ve gained a ton of weight, mostly in my stomach, and my waist is now 47 inches. I’m trying to lose weight but it’s nearly impossible with a severe metabolic disease. I’d love to try corsets because my breasts are also very large and heavy (38L), and standard bras have injured my shoulders due to the strain. Also, if corsets could help with my back pain I could do more exercise.

    Thanks for the wonderful articles and videos!

    1. I asked my doctor but she was clearly unfamiliar with corsets and just told me to get a racerback bra to avoid strain on my shoulders. Yeah, that’s not going to make a difference with breasts this heavy and the shoulders still doing the heavy lifting. I’ve been to proper bra fitters at expensive stores and been through endless brands and designs. Bras just don’t work for me — I need bust support from underneath.

      I know you’re not a doctor but I value your opinion on the safety of corsets on extra large waists. Thanks!

      1. Hi Samantha, it’s true I’m not a doctor. If you have a lot of visceral fat and you’re concerned about waist reduction, there are overbust corsets that are around 44″ or 46″ that you could technically wear (like Orchard Corset) that will just support the bustline without compressing the waist too much. Or you can have a special overbust corset made just for you – I have a gallery of custom corsetieres who specialize in lifting and supporting large and heavy busts on this page (click through the pictures to go to each maker’s website / online shop).

        1. thanks Lucy!

  3. Hello,

    Very interesting the article and quite accurate.

    I am doing some research to use a shape trainer/Corset myself while working (sitting in a office for 8 hours) I am testing the benefits and inconvenience of a prolonged use over the day. Currently I am wearing one and if the comfort around the back muscles is almost instant once you wear it. Although, I start to feel a slightly discomfort in the lower back (I had suffer sciatic episodes in the past while working in a restaurant)

    If you could give your opinion will be helpful, due you are use to wear them and you have observed how your body react.


  4. I don’t have a corset. Haven’t tried one. They seem like they would be extremely uncomfortable. However, I have had two children and I know that pregnancy pushes organs and rib cages ALL over the place. In fact distorting the rib cage permanently. Unless of course fixed by a corset. So, I really don’t get why they are making a big deal about this. I mean people need to use common sense. If you can’t breath loosen it.

    1. I waist train with a boned steel corset and let me tell you that is not uncomfortable at all I can even sleep in my corset without any problems

  5. I have been waist training for about 2 years and I lace up tight. I do not exercise very often and do so even less while wearing my corset. I recently when on a 2 hour power walk to relieve some stress (long week) while I was wearing my corset laced very tightly. Between the heat and my lacking of daily exercise, I ended up overextended my groin muscle. In your opinion could I have caused this by wearing my corset so tightly laced

    1. Hello – the only possible way I could think of that the corset could contribute to you pulling a muscle is if you had it on so tight that you were immobilizing part of the muscle and then overexerted yourself – but that’s a question you should direct toward your doctor because I don’t know your medical history or your general flexibility, muscle tone, etc. There are people who pull their muscles all the time and don’t wear corsets, so I’m generally cautious about not confusing correlation with causation.
      There are other reasons that I never recommend exercising in a corset though, which I go through in detail in this article: Should You Work Out in a Corset?

  6. Hello, my name is Brenda, I have degenerative disk disease which has lead me to having a back fusion of L4-L5 at the age of 41. I am currently 48 and I was wondering if a corset will help to support my back. Everytime I do about 3 workouts – I cant walk straight due to straining my back. What are your thoughts on this.

    1. Hi Brenda, thanks for your comment. :) If you’re looking for a corset but you’ve had a spinal fusion, it might be best to go custom fit. A corset made specifically for your body by an experienced corsetiere should help you maintain healthy posture while preventing muscle strain, and in some cases your corset can be covered by medical insurance (if you have any). Unfortunately corsets should not be used while you’re actively working out, only before/ after your activity.
      I’m not sure where you’re located, but take a look at the Corsetiere map and see if you might be able to get an in-person fitting with someone, as that would be the best scenario.

  7. Hi Miss Lucy, I have cerebral palsy and scoliosis and I love my corsets without them I would be able to walk straight and some what normal and keeps me from using a wheel chair, I’ve been wearing corsets for years and my question to you is wear can I find a really good corset maker in nyc, nj or Pennsylvania? Thank you and lucky you are awesome ?

    1. Hi Nina, thank you for your comment! One of my favorite makers is located in Pennsylvania, her name is Fran and she owns Contour Corsets. She even makes medical corsets which you can find here.

      If you’re interested, I would love to speak with you more about your positive experiences with your corset! I’m currently working on a book containing stories from people who have been positively impacted by corsetry, and your experience would be a valuable addition! If you’re interested, please let me know.

      1. Thank you so much for replying I will contact her and it would be an honor to be interviewed by you ? For your book,

        1. Thank you Nina, I will email you shortly! :)

  8. I have a hernia, would a faja effect it? I’ve also had 4 csections so I have a pouch…

    1. Hi Christal, depending on the type of hernia and where it’s located, the corset may help or it might make it worse so I would 100% direct your question to your doctor who knows your personal history.

  9. I was wondering, for those of you who corset daily, how do you put them on properly, if you are alone?

    1. Hi Joy, I have a tutorial on Youtube that shows how to lace up a corset by yourself. :)

  10. What kind of a corset do you all recommend. I have a ventral abdominal and umbilical hernia… Need something to push them in as I work out… And just exist..

    1. Hi Michelle, I would definitely get the recommendation from your doctor to wear a corset with your condition, because depending on the type of corset or the type of hernia, it can either help it or make it worse. This is definitely a case where it would be best to check with your doctor first.

  11. I agree with your opinion completely Lucy. Have you ever looked into research grants or talked to a university about such a study? Maybe if a university or teaching hospital was interested and possessed the equipment you could help them lead just such a study that we would all like to see with the proper considerations for real tightlacers. Being a notable figure in the community, you would be the ideal person to help organize a study as you know several long term corset wearers who I’m sure are curious enough to volunteer.
    If not one of those maybe there is a student at a university who would like some grant writing experience who could help you prepare the grant? I know you are quite busy and writing grants can take a lot of time.
    Thanks for taking the time to write these articles and do all of the reviews you do Lucy. We all really appreciate it.

    1. Thank you Libby; I’ve contacted various labs a few years ago, but it would be worth it to try again. :)

  12. About 5 years ago I went to a Professional Corsetiere for a fitting in foundation wear.
    As I became older I started to get a small belly even though I work out about 5 to 6 days a week and I am quite active.
    The corsetiere put me through “Girdle Training”, which is slightly different then “Corset Training”.
    I found to my pleasant surprise that wearing a decent vintage girdle daily has some serious health benefits that most
    people have absolutely no idea about.
    It has to do with the fact that we as humans stand erect, standing erect over time and gravity has a very negative effect
    on our bodies and our internal organs. Choosing to wear a decent vintage girdle or corset daily without question will over
    come this negative effect and support and hold your internal organs in their normal nature position. I found this to be true
    after I went through the “Girdle Training”, I was really amazed how much better I felt, I have much more energy and confidence
    I feel much more relaxed, as far a diet being well supported does help curb your diet so you do for sure each smaller and healthier

    I am absolutely 100 percent convenienced that wearing a decent vintage girdle daily without question is very beneficial. Do not knock it till
    you experienced what I have experienced.

  13. I find that as always ppl question and suspect what they don’t know. I have fibromialgia since I was 20 yrs old. I’m now 37. I wear a corset every single day of my life for the last 2 and a half years, and can accurately say it has substantially helped me with my pain. I have also gone from 63 kilos and a 30″ waist to 53 and a 22″ waist. My eating habits have improved, my constipation is gone and my overall mood and self perception improved greatly. I feel younger and healthier, eat better, and being a mother or two kids, I got back the body I had before I ever had them. Maybe dr Oz would feel different if his wife had experience the metamorphosis I have. Go Lucy! Keep up teaching women to be healthier and prettier.

  14. I would be happy to participate in a future study on corsets. I have been wearing a corset for over a month daily now and I love them! My back problems I have had for almost 6 years are near non-existent. Your article was very informative and I wish people would do their research before making such claims about corsets.

    1. Thank you, Amanda! I’m so glad to hear that your back issues have improved.

    2. That’s so wonderful to hear Amanda! I too, started wearing a corset last July, after seven years of pain medications, back braces and was threatened with a major surgery. They were going to pulverize three discs and fuse four vertebrae together and screw a titanium cage around the butchery.

      That’s when I started pondering the realization that people have had damaged backs for centuries!! So…what did they do about it?

      After tons of research and quite a few questions for our dear Lucy, I decided that a corset was, in it’s plainest form, an exoskeleton.

      Why have all that steel (and missing parts) in my back when I can wrap the same thing around my entire torso?

      I’m more than happy to announce that after seven years of HEAVY medications, I’m taking nothing stronger than Alieve and able to work, on my feet, 15 hours a day with NO pain AND, I’ve gained three pounds! (That’s a big deal because I have anorexia…not “nervosa”, I know I’m thin, I just don’t like food. The smell of most food makes me ill so having to adjust my eating habits for the corset has led to me being able to gain weight for the first time in my life!!!)

      My bespoke (asymmetrical) corsets have given me more than my life back, they’ve kept a hernia from pushing back through, they’ve kept me off pain meds, they’ve made it possible for me to ride my motorcycle again, sweep a floor, mow the yard, pressure wash, lift free weights…all those things that torque my lower back and make life unbearable and some things I’d had to give up and/or hire someone to do.

      If I have a dimpled liver from it then it’s a good trade!

  15. Isn’t it a bit the same with women wearing the wrong size bra, I have heard number from 1/4 up to 80% of women wear the wrong bra size. now what they mean by wrong I don’t know.
    but the reasoning often centres around , 2 point that one could likely also find with corset ,
    1. that is how it always feel, women that have never tried one the fits well, and there for think that it is normal for it to feel like that.
    2. not wanting to be that “Letter”, the are certain stigma or stereotypes connected to some of the letters that are not B or C, so there are women that wearing a B cup that really should wear a D or E, and some know this but don’t like those numbers. and likely some do this with corsets waist sizes wanting a certain Number.

    now this is just a guess.

    1. That’s an interesting idea. I know that many people erroneously think that buying a corset 4-6 smaller than your waistline will magically make your natural waist 4-6 inches smaller within just a few weeks or months. Others don’t want to size down their corsets gradually, and think that they may be able to drop 10 inches (or more!) using just one type of corset, and then it doesn’t end up fitting them correctly. People need to be educated on finding their appropriate corset size and style, just as they need to do a little hunting to find their proper bra size / style.

  16. Great article, Lucy!
    This is so true:
    “The compression is also focused primarily laterally (on either side of the body, and not from front and back). In most cases, a strong front busk will prevent dishing or collapsing of the waistline in the front of the body, and a proper corset is also specially drafted to ensure no compression of the back, as it should support a healthy posture and maintain a proper lumbar curve. ”
    The type of compression is VERY important. Pressing at the sides is actually very easy. But pressing at the front… I’ve always had a small waist and looked great with tight belts, but hated them – they press on the stomach and are very uncomfortable, especially while sitting. But now when I am wearing corsets, no more such problems! ZERO pressure on the stomach. I can sit and eat normally. The busk stays straight and does not touch my waist, even when laced to 17-18″ – I can put my arm between the corset front and my body. Won’t ever try this trick with a belt)) A corset is a truly wonder of engineering contruction.

    1. Thank you Alice! It’s always a pleasure hearing about your experiences, especially since you lace much smaller than the majority of the population.

  17. Lucy I have been a huge fan of yours since I found your videos on corsets. I am still trying to find a good corset to begin waist training because I am so short. But if you ever have a study I would like to help maybe as before some one starts wearing corsets and what it looks like as a person continued to waits train.
    Thanks for your amazing informational videos.

    1. Hello Carey, thanks for your comment. If you’re looking for a very short cincher or waspie that will fit your shorter torso, I have a gallery of selections here. Clicking on the photo will take you to that maker’s website where you can learn more or order.

  18. Should I be concerned? I’ve just started training and have ordered various corsets, according to your great videos on YouTube. I haven’t experienced anything bad yet, and enjoy wearing them. I actually find they help my lower back problem.

    1. Hi Michelle, I don’t know your medical history so I can’t tell you what factors you should or shouldn’t be worried about. But I have many different articles on the Physical Effects of Corseting here, and generally I recommend that you have a clean bill of health before you start waist training (even though hundreds of people have told me how corsets help with their ailments and improve their quality of life). If you have any questions or concerns though, it’s best to bring it up with your trusted physician who knows you and your health history, before you start training.

  19. Kia ora
    I have never worn a propper corset but would be happy to help out if you do a study. As i am now wondering myself, would it actually help supress over eating, how much exercise (and to what level) and how much would one help support a larger bust.

    1. Hi Caroline, I’ve written at length about my thoughts on how corsets may suppress overeating in my Corset Diet article, which you may find interesting. I’ve also given some exercise tips in my Corsets and Muscles article, although if you speak with Ann Grogan (Romantasy) she has waist training programs available at a number of different price points.
      To support a large bust, I have a list of pros and cons of wearing overbust corsets here, as well as a gallery of overbust corsets for larger busts.

  20. Commenting all the way from Singapore! I’m actually conducting an informal investigation of my own into all the corsetry-related myths, but seeing as I live in a tropical country, and my uniform consists of two layers of clothing, it’s a bit haphazard (thus ‘informal investigation’. I know for a fact the data I have isn’t nearly enough.)

    Corsets have actually helped me lose a bit of weight (a kilo in about a month) since I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing one whenever the weather is below 30 degrees Celsius – in the evenings or when I’m anywhere air-conditioned. The corset reminds me that I really did not have to have that third piece of chicken or second bowl of rice, and I knew Coke was bad for me anyway, so I could save it for a hotter day.

    I’ve definitely heard the one about the lungs being compressed, and to be fair it is true. My usual response to those who are convinced even the slightest compression leads to brain damage and fainting from lack of oxygen is that the only time anyone ever used 100% lung capacity was during singing or exercise, and if someone was stupid enough to wear anything but a custom corset specifically designed for that, well that person was just being an idiot. It takes me a bit longer to catch my breath after I run for buses, but that’s it.

    Haven’t heard the acid reflux one, though. I haven’t gotten it before while wearing a corset though it’s worth noting that whenever I got acid reflux, it was thanks to overeating or drinking too much water at once, which was just not a good idea in a corset anyway.

    I have proven one myth to be true, but that’s through pure stupidity. The myth that corsets can bruise your ribs? Totally true, but only if the wearer decides to be an utter moron like I was. See, my corset (the long cincher from True Corset you reviewed) was too small in the hips and too big on the ribs for me, and to tighten the waist I thought it’d be a good idea to tighten the ribs area to try to tighten the waist. I had a hard time distinguishing what was acceptable pressure and what was not from the corset at first. It was never uncomfortable for the few hours I wore it during the evening, so I didn’t know.
    I finally decided to wear my corset to sleep, and I woke up with aching ribs because I’d tightened the top half of the corset to the point where I couldn’t take a good breath. My older cousin, a doctor, took a look and told me I had somehow managed to bruise my ribs despite supposedly knowing what I was doing. He wasn’t very happy with me. I laid off the corset for a month and learned my lesson. So it is in fact very easy to accidentally injure yourself while corseting, but that’s only if you don’t pay complete attention to everything your body tells you and don’t know when to stop.

    So yeah sorry for my extremely wordy comment but I thought it might help.

    1. Hi Valerie! Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, if a corset is not fitted correctly or overtightened, there is a risk of causing shortness of breath, fainting, pain or bruising – but I consider this user error rather than a sweeping generalization for all corsets. It depends on the type, and how they are handled and used.

      The problem is that there is not enough information out there on how corsets are supposed to properly fit and feel, so people grow up with the propaganda that all corsets are supposed to hurt or that shortness of breath is normal. It’s like if a certain culture had never heard of shoes, but their only exposure to footwear was Chinese foot-binding. Many would understandably turn away from ALL footwear and consider it barbaric (even when offered a comfy pair of orthotic running shoes), and some individuals who want to try footwear feel as though they’re supposed to jam their feet into shoes two sizes too small and just deal with the pain, blisters, hammertoe etc because that’s all they’ve been exposed to. There is a whole other world of well-made, functional and comfortable footwear out there, just as there’s a whole world of different shapes, sizes, and styles of corsets. You just need to find the right one and learn to use it responsibly. :)

  21. Hi Lucy – great post. It’s great to read clever, articulate and researched answers to the issues raised. And yes, I too would love to see corset wearing risks compared to bariatric surgery risks – or a long-term study on corset wearing in general. I didn’t see Dr Oz’s programme, but as someone who has been wearing a corset every day for the last three months I love it and I’m not giving it up any time soon!

    1. Thank you Emma!

  22. I agree with you 100% on this subject. Let me know if this study will happen. If I can do it from Tennessee, I’ll do it. I’ll wear it everyday(which I haven’t lately, only because of my retail job, and I don’t know when I’ll need to run and get something.) But, I would love to see someone wanting to find REAL answers when it comes to corsets. It helps tremendously with my shoulder and miner back problems.

    1. Thanks Abigail! I’m so glad that your corset is helping with your shoulder and back pain. :) And certainly if I need subjects from Tennessee, you’ll be the first on my list!

  23. Thanks for this amazing article, Lucy! I understand your reasons for not wanting to be on the show, but you’re so knowledgeable and articulate about these issues that I feel you could have just blown all the misconceptions to pieces if you had done it. It’s so great to see actual facts being used instead of the hysteria that so often surrounds the mythology of corset-danger.
    I’m a bit confused about one point though, and perhaps you could clarify it: I feel like there’s a really common argument that I tend to see when experienced waist trainers defend corsetry, and that’s the idea that “organs shift during pregnancy too!” To me, it seems like the argument there is that since pregnancy is natural, then that means corsetry must be healthy because it’s similar to this natural process. Which is kinda true, but…isn’t pregnancy is actually pretty dangerous? I mean, it’s natural, but it isn’t…easy on the body. According to the New York Times: “Around the world, an estimated 529,000 women a year die during pregnancy or childbirth. Ten million suffer injuries, infection or disability.” TEN MILLION! I mean, I know that’s because of a lot of complicated reasons, but still. I’m an HUGE fan of corsetry, but whenever I read that corsets push your organs around in a way that’s akin to pregnancy, I think “that…actually sounds like an argument AGAINST corsets?!?!” Just sayin’

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks so much for your faith in me. :)
      I get where you’re coming from regarding pregnancy complications. Pregnancy is incredibly natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s not risky. It’s important to consider how many of these 10 million women are in underdeveloped countries with less access (or no access) to prenatal screening or sterile environments though. In the Victorian era, some people believed that “childbed fever” and death in childbirth was caused by corsets, when in reality it was caused by sepsis, because doctors could be rushing from the morgue to the maternity ward without so much as washing their hands, since germ theory wasn’t widely accepted until the very late 19th century. (And antibiotics weren’t available until the 1920s-30s!)

      Some women today still give birth in contaminated environments, and can easily catch infection through the endometrium, or from a fissure in the birth canal – especially if there is a tear between the rectum and the vagina and it may cause feces to spill into the blood stream. There’s also the issue of ectopic pregnancies if the fetus embeds in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus and grows big enough for the tube to burst and cause internal bleeding. And in the case of miscarriage, if the mother’s body cannot expel/ abort the fetus on its own, it can cause infection.

      My mother’s cousin (who has never worn a corset) had an emergency situation in labour where the placenta didn’t separate properly from the uterine lining, and her entire reproductive tract flipped inside out and exited her body with the afterbirth. If they didn’t give her an emergency hysterectomy, she could have died.

      Women who have more narrow hips (or are smaller in general due to nutritional deficiencies) may not be able to deliver the baby naturally, but depending on where they live, they might not have access to an emergency C-section, which may lead to death in both the mother and child. Gestational diabetes also occurs in 5-10% of women (which can be a complication in itself), and it’s known that diabetic mothers tend to give birth to children with a higher-than-usual birth weight – that extra size might cause complications during delivery and the need for a C-section. Complications and infections can happen with the surgical procedure itself, as well.

      So yes, there are a ton of complications that can happen in pregnancy, but it doesn’t all have to do with organ crowding specifically.

  24. Again just like last time this topic was touch I completely agree with your opinion, I’ve been corset training on and off for 1 year now and I would be delighted, whenever you have the opportunity to conduct a study like like this, of being one of your subjects, and finally find out all the real answers to the “controversial” questions about corsetting

    1. Thank you Elizabeth!

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