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It seems like every decade or so, we arbitrarily select new ideals of attractiveness. A few years back, we apparently decided that the figure of choice for women is a tiny waist and sizeable behind, often referred to as a pear body type. Its popularity has led to a sudden omnipresence of models with this build (by “models,” I mean more Instagram than runway, but you get the point), inspiring those who aren’t quite pearlike enough to want to fix that.

Naturally, lots of companies want to capitalize on this particular trend, and there are now plenty of products are on the market that promise to work by various measures to make your body so pear-shaped that people try to turn you into crisp. The offerings range from saccharine workout videos to strange beverages hawked by influencers to perhaps the most notorious option of all: waist trainers.

These garments are basically the modern-day offspring of corsets. You know, those lace-up underclothes that women used to wear regularly and that royally screwed up their physiology? Well, they’re back in style, now with a new name and mass-produced in China. Of course, this is quite a change from the way they were in, say, the 19th century, when they were often made out of real whale bones (yikes) versus today’s, which often have wires sewn into them (also yikes). Regardless, the underlying idea is still the same: to modify the body for the purpose of fashion.

Another thing that hasn’t changed is the pivotal role that advertising has played in the spread of corsetry. Back then, it was newspapers; today, it’s the photo-based social media network, Instagram. But instead of trying to resemble the illustrations of mothers and daughters bonding over their shared practice of corsetry, consumers can now work to emulate real, living, breathing women who occupy this earthly plane, like Kim and Khloe Kardashian.

For those of you who didn’t click that Instagram link, click it now or else the rest of this won’t make sense. OK, thanks. You might be thinking, “this guy is clearly blind or an idiot. Kim’s waist looks totally trained in that photo.” You’re right about the second part (not the first, you bully!) and many others would agree. A waist trainer can make your waist look smaller… while you’re wearing it. And maybe a few hours later, if you’re lucky. But your body will return to its original shape soon after you’ve freed it of its fabric prison.

So, why not wear a waist trainer long-term, then? Well, here are some outcomes that might produce: muscle atrophy, reduced core strength, lowered lung capacity, poor posture, lower back pain, and so much more! But hey, don’t take it from me. Read this account of a woman who actually tried one out, or check out this lawsuit that a celebrity-endorsed waist trainer company faced.

In reality, you can’t change the body type you were born with; it’s determined by genetics. So, without surgical intervention, you aren’t going to wake up looking like Jennifer Lopez if you’re naturally predisposed to have a small butt. You can adjust the amount of fat and muscle on your body (but not its shape or distribution) with a lot of hard work, but who wants to do that?! Hell, if I could solve my many, many problems by strapping a piece of fabric to my stomach for a few hours a day, you can bet I’d be doing that even faster than anyone could advertise it.

If you’re truly desperate to look like a pear, there actually is a solution. Try this padded underwear, available at Walmart!! It’s cheap, probably works, and won’t screw with your internal organs. Just make sure nobody tries to grab the goods, or they’re gonna end up with a handful of foam.

But here’s another alternative: just wait another five years. Who knows what the next trendy body type will be? The athletic figure of the 70s, or the ultra-skinny heroin chic of the 90s? Maybe something completely new, like having six eyes and a second pair of arms. Regardless, I have a feeling that the superstars of Instagram will find a way to sell it in a world where social media increasingly demands perfection. Waist trainers are nothing more than another entry in a series of gimmicks, and that’s why they should be Filed Under Crap.


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