On Tuesday, March 20th, Kylie Jenner faced backlash after she shared a #sponsored post promoting waist trainers, a controversial waist-slimming product many celebrities swear by. Jenner, a new mom, praised the company for hooking her up with high-quality “snap back products” to help get her post-pregnancy body back into shape.
First of all, thinking you should have to “snap back” after giving birth is problematic in itself. But the use of waist trainers in general is pretty questionable.
Although many celebrities, including Amber Rose and Kim Kardashian West, do credit the products for helping them achieve that hourglass look, are waist trainers safe to use?
Physical therapist Dr. Karena Wu, owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy, tells HelloGiggles, “There are advertisements that state waist trainers give you a semi-permanent state that can be attained. But if your body doesn’t naturally have it, then it is compressing your tissues, your bones, and your natural movement ability, and could actually be doing you harm in the long term.”
If used incorrectly or too aggressively (i.e. wearing it for too long or wearing one that’s too tight) these corset-like products can cause real damage to your body, inside and out.
According to Wu, ribs can get bruised or, worst-case scenario, fractured. “If a rib were to truly break, it could puncture the organs,” Wu says.
In addition to that, pulmonary issues can occur because your diaphragm is unable to contract and descend correctly, which can limit your ability to breathe. Connective tissue in the intestinal region can also be bound down by the waist trainer, which could cause poor mobility of the bowels. Besides that, waist training can also puncture your skin if a wire breaks out.
When it comes to nerve and tissue damage, Wu also says “right along the bones at the top of the pelvis, where the corset sits, superficial nerves can get irritated by the compression and cause the pins-and-needles feeling, burning and/or tingling down into the leg.” Your body can also go into a fight-or-flight mode, which can make you feel like you’re about to pass out.
Celebrities use waist trainers to help achieve a certain “ideal” look. But doctors and even personal trainers don’t seem to be on board with the trend. As celebrity fitness trainer Tadeo tells HelloGiggles, “I strongly advise my clients against waist trainers. They compress vital internal organs and weaken all core muscles, thus leaving the wearer less healthy and fit — even aesthetically. Flat tummies are a result of workouts, not handcuffing the midsection.”
Whether you choose to try a waist trainer or not is up to you. But just be aware of the potential health consequences of wearing one — because clearly there are quite a few to watch out for.