The latest tool to help women achieve the perfect hour-glass figure is the waist trainer, made popular by Kim Kardashian. Deirdre Reynolds tests it out.
WAIST not? Want not as Kim Kardashian’s waist-cinching secret finally arrives to Ireland.
With her eye-popping 38-26-42 curves, the reality TV star is one of the most anatomically-envied women on the planet.
And the mum-of-one says it’s all down to wearing a waist trainer.
Showing off her teeny waist in a latex ‘corset’ on Instagram recently, the “obsessed” 34 year-old said: “Organizing & cleaning up before bed and waist training at the same time!”
So when new Irish website www.TheWaistShaper.com claimed that squeezing into shape like Kim was a cinch, I didn’t waist any time putting it to the test.
Now at 32-30-34, I’m not exactly keeping up with the most famous Kardashian.
After wrestling with one of the brand’s é45 waist shapers however, I was certainly getting a bit closer.
Automatically melting two inches off my middle, it sucked me in to a svelte 28 inches, not to mention boost my bust and make me stand taller.
But I’m not the only one waisting away after the country’s first waist trainer boutique opened in Dublin this week.
“Ever since Kim Kardashian posted a picture wearing her waist trainer, business had gone through the roof,” says Aisling Burke of WaistTrainers.ie - you’ll find the new pop-up store on South William Street.
“As soon as we announced we were opening a shop, women from all over the country were looking to come in and get fitted for a waist trainer.
“Our customers range in age from 18 to 67,” she adds. “We get lots of new mums trying to get rid of their baby belly and brides-to-be trying to get in shape for their big day.”
Unlike the rib-cracking corsets of yesteryear, today’s waist trainers stretch around your centre and clasp like a bra.
As well as making you resemble a Coke bottle straight away, wearing one is also thought to help burn fat over time by heating the core, causing you to sweat more.
“Basically the heat of your own body breaks down the fat cells, then you wee it out,” explains Aisling, who shrank by four inches in four weeks while road-testing one of WaistTrainers.ie’s é55 waist cinchers in January.
“When I was testing it, I found that I had to go to the toilet a little bit more often than I would normally. But it also makes you stand straighter and gives your boobs a good lift.”
Despite being available in sizes 6-26, the instant hourglass effect is most popular with girls who are already slim, she says: “Sizes small and medium would be the biggest sellers. Even girls that are size 6 or 8 wear them to create that hourglass shape straight away.”
“We sell three types: a classic waist trainer which can be worn for up to eight hours a day under your clothes and is quite invisible, a gym one - like the one worn by Kim Kardashian - which can be worn for up to four hours a day, generally over your clothes, and a waist training vest which fits around your bra and gets rid of back fat.”
Kim’s younger sister Khloe and model Amber Rose are just some of the other stars to embrace the Jessica Rabbit-style workout.
But Hollywood’s hottest new “fitness” trend is not without its skeptics here.
“Waist training has no health benefits at all,” says Dr Donal O’Shea, consultant endocrinologist and Director of the Weight Management Clinic at St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown.
“But - apart from perpetuating the body image issues our young people have - it probably doesn’t do any harm either.
“Celebrities have always led the way when it comes to diet and fitness trends. It’s definitely getting worse though.”
“Right now, Kim Kardashian probably has more respect and attention than the Director General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan,” he adds, “and that’s a big problem.
“Kids are seeing celebrity fad after celebrity fad on TV and social media. Meanwhile, Dr Chan speaks brilliantly and passionately about public health, but the kids won’t know her, hear her or heed her. Instead, they’ll go and get a waist trainer.”
As Cinderella star Lily James flaunts her rumoured 22-inch waist on the big screen, meanwhile old-fashioned corsets are also making a comeback, with online retailer eBay reporting a 54% rise in sales since December.
“The corset never went out of fashion,” reckons Susan Hunter, owner of Susan Hunter Lingerie in The Westbury Mall in Dublin, “not with us anyway.”
“Between corsets and corset-type body suits, we sell several pieces a week. Of course there are fashion elements like lace and lurex now, but the basic structure of the corset hasn’t changed. For a good corset, you’re looking at eé200-plus.
“When someone comes in to me, the first thing I ask them is what do you want it to do?,
“We have corsets that pull in your waist, pull in your tummy, lift up your bosom - each one has a different function.
“Some women will buy one for a special occasion, then come back for a second when they realise how comfortable it is.”
Just don’t confuse the two, warns Andrew Ward of Corsets Ireland (www.corset.ie), a Mayo-based company specialising in traditional steel-boned corsets starting from ée100: “Waist trainers are not boned, they allow you to flex a lot more - but they haven’t got a patch on a real corset.
“I’ve had clients come to me after trying latex waist trainers,” he says. “Once they try a proper corset, and see the difference between the two, they get serious about restructuring their shape.”
Physiotherapist Paul Verburg, who runs R and SM clinic in Dun Laoghaire, isn’t convinced by the latest shapewear: “Binding your mid-section is not going to achieve anything in terms of weight-loss.
“Wearing [a waist trainer] to the gym will, at most, make you sweat a bit more. But it will also make your muscles very lazy.
“You’re artificially binding your stomach rather than working to create a strong core through proper strength exercises.”
Sure enough, my Kim Kardashian-esque waist disappeared as soon as I took the high-compression garment off.
As these dramatic before and after shots show though, it wasn’t a complete waist of time – and certainly beats working out seven days a week.
“You have to stay at it,” urges waist training fan Aisling. “You have to wear it every day religiously.
“You’re not losing weight, you’re just restructuring your shape.”
For personal trainer Montinique Judge, when it comes to waist trainers, it’s a case of Spanx – but no Spanx.
“After the Kim Kardashian pictures, a lot of my clients asked me what I thought about waist training,” tells Montinique, who runs Fitnessbootcamp.ie - an outdoor bootcamp based in Dublin. “So I said I’d try it out myself and give my honest response.
“I tried it out for eight hours a day for four weeks, keeping the same diet and exercise regime. Personally, I didn’t notice any difference in inch-loss around the waist area.
“When you take it off at night, your waist might appear slimmer,” she concedes, “you can almost see the indentation of the waist trainer. Once you get up in the morning though, it’s gone.”
“One thing I would say is that it’s good for your posture,” adds the fitness model. “When I was wearing it, I would definitely stand up a little bit straighter.
“But I’ll be sticking to my Spanx to get rid of any lumps and bumps underneath a dress on nights out.”
Five fashion cheats for a midriff to rival Cinderella — without lacing up
1. Magically combining the benefits of a corset with the comfort of a bra, a body suit is the Fairy Godmother of undergarments.
Cadolle Elia Control Boned Body, €225, available from Susan Hunter Lingerie ( www.susanhunter.ie)
2. They mightn’t do much for Prince Charming, but you can’t beat a pair of sucky-in knickers to achieve a Disney-esque waistline.
SPANX Higher Power Brief, €42, available from ie.spanx.fr
3. Dreams really do come true when you own a waspie that transforms your middle faster than you can say ‘bibbidi-bobbidi-boo’.
L’Agent by Agent Provocateur Penelope Waspie, €120, available from Brown Thomas
4. OK, so a silky basque is unlikely to give you a 22-inch waist like Cinderella star Lily James, but it could transform your love life just like Cinders.
Reger by Janet Reger Satin Embroidered Basque, €67.50, and Brazilian Briefs, €22.50, from Debenhams. 5. You don’t need a magic wand — or even a corset — for a barely-there tum, thanks to this season’s waist-nipping obi belts.
Mango Leather Obi Belt, €24.95.
Kim Kardashian isn’t the only one to swear by waist training to get back to her pre-baby selfie.
Sin City star Jessica Alba also confessed to lacing up in a bid to regain her perfect 34-24-34 figure after the birth of her two children.
“I wore a double corset day and night for three months,” the 34-year-old reported. “It was brutal. It’s just to get your body back because everything is everywhere!”
But is waist training — or corseting in Jessica’s case — safe for new mums? “After giving birth naturally, the stomach muscles can be very weak,” says physiotherapist Paul Verburgt of R and SM Clinic in Dun Laoghaire. “A waist trainer won’t do anything to help strengthen the muscles, but it will temporarily support them.
“However, waist trainers are not suitable for women who have had caesarean sections. My advice would be to work with a remedial therapist.”
Pre and postnatal fitness expert Stephanie Sinnott of babybodyfit.ie doubts new mums will go in for girdles.
“None of the girls in my class would even think about it,” she says. “I think it’s more a celebrity thing.
“After birth, bones, joints and muscles are all very relaxed. The hormone relaxin — which literally allows the body to expand for the baby — is still in the system for up to 12 weeks after giving birth.
“Muscle memory is a great thing though. Gentle exercise, walking or swimming will soon help you get back into shape.”
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