There’s a lot of hype around slimming waist training corsets and shapewear, underbust corsets or overbust corsets, these days, thanks to celebs like the Kardashians, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez who have made them bestsellers. But, a lot of people in the media confuse waist trainers with bust corsets and bustiers, which can be a serious misconception to make. They are very different garments, and have different results. What are corsets, specifically steel boned corsets? And how are they different from waist trainers?
What is a Steel Boned Corset?
Steel boned corsets are shaper garments with steel ‘bones’ that hold in your waist in order to cinch it and help with waist reduction. As most waist trainer corsets are, steel boning corsets are quite rigid and structured. They are the strongest out of all the shaping garments, but they can also be dangerous and uncomfortable.
Corsets were very popular throughout history, as they gave women the much coveted hourglass figure. They were especially prevalent during the Victorian era. You’d see women with tiny waists and big, flared skirts. However, most of the corsets during this era were made from animal bones.
A steel boned corset consists of a ‘skeleton’ made from thin steel rods, that is covered by layers of fabric. Think of it like the steel structure you see in umbrellas.
Now, imagine having that rigid steel structure squeezing your waist. That’s going to be really painful and uncomfortable! Despite the potential health risks, you can find them easily online. But, here are a few of the dangers of wearing a spiral steel boned corset.
The Dangers of Wearing a Steel Boned Corset
If you’ve ever seen a woman with Jessica Rabbit-style proportions, with an almost impossibly small waist, there’s a good chance that they’re wearing corsets. Most modern corsets have steel, double steel or metallic boning, which presents even more health risks. Here are some of the biggest health concerns with steel boned corsets.
Damaging Internal Organs
As the rigid steel bones sit against your waist, your body will react over time by shifting your organs. This is also a natural process that happens in the female body during pregnancy, but it is a dangerous thing to induce artificially using corsets.
The unbelievably small waists you see with corsets come from shifting of the organs. The rigidity of the steel frame can also cut off circulation, which is dangerous over time.
Another downside to steel boned corsets is the extreme discomfort they bring. The rigidity means that it can dig into your skin, making it painful to sit or walk around in.
Hard to Breathe
One of the biggest problems with steel boned corsets is the difficulty in breathing caused by steel boned corsets. They can press against the ribcage and put too much pressure on your belly.
You won’t be able to breathe in and out to the fullest extent, which can reduce your oxygen intake. This is why you may feel tired over time because there’s a lack of oxygen in your tissue.
As steel boned corsets are one of the most rigid shapewear, it is very restrictive when it comes to your physical movements. This may cause muscle aches, pain, bruising or discomfort. Good shapewear should not restrict you from daily tasks such as walking, talking or breathing.
Detrimental To Your Mindset
Out of all shapewear, steel boned corsets present the most extreme ‘results’ from waist cinchers from your waist. The marketing used to promote them use heavily altered photos where you’ll see women with ridiculously low waist to hip ratios.
Corsets can give you very unrealistic expectations when it comes to waist cinching. Some women who regularly use these types of corsets have heavy body dysmorphia (always looking for flaws in your body).
It is not uncommon for corset wearers to go to the extremes of removing ribs, in order to achieve a ridiculously small waist. So, it’s neither good for your body or your mind.
Waist Training - A Safer Alternative
Most of the time, waist trainers and corsets are used interchangeably by mistake, but they are very very different. Because of their extremely rigid bone structure, steel boned corsets can be very easy to misuse, and hence have more health hazards.
Waist trainers are more flexible, and harder to misuse, and therefore a safer alternative. The flexibility means you can breathe, eat and move around more easily. There’s also a lower risk of the waist trainer crushing your internal organs. We’ll look at these benefits in more detail:
Waist Trainers Vs Corsets - Why Is Waist Training Better?
Achieves Better Results
Waist trainers are not designed to achieve ‘extreme’ results like steel boned corsets. The results are more sustainable and gradual, so you will get a nicer contour of the body.
For each waist training size, there’s a limited number of hooks, so there’s no risk of ‘overtightening’, and damaging your body. Once you’ve slimmed down with this size, you will need a different waist trainer with a smaller size.
The steel corsets are more extreme for your body. Because they rely on lace tightening, it is very easy to overtighten without even meaning to. So, this is more dangerous, because there’s always the temptation to go extremely small.
This is why women who’ve used corsets have an extremely unrealistic waist to hip ratio. You can always tell the difference between someone who’s used a corset vs a waist trainer to shape up their body. One makes your curves look smoother and natural, while the other gives you exaggerated proportions.
While waist training can take a few weeks to show results, it is far more sustainable. It takes hard work to see results, but it is also harder to lose those results.
You can see faster results with a waist trainer if you combine it with a good diet and workout program. Reduce fat, sugar and refined foods. Increase fibre from vegetables and fruits, which will not only help control your appetite, but also burn calories.
For intense cardio or strength training workouts, Luxx has a special waist trimmer belt or fitness belt that is even more flexible than their waist trainers. They use Velcro, so they are super easy to put on and take off at the gym or on the go.
Design and Material
Corsets have always been tedious and slightly heavy duty garments to put on. That’s why in historical movies, you often see ‘ladies in waiting’ who help a royal woman put on a cotton corset. The design is not very user-friendly (e.g. pvc), with all that tight lacing you will need to tighten and tie from the back.
Waist trainers are far more user-friendly and easier to put on. Most waist trainers will have a series of grommets or ‘hooks’ and ‘eyes’ to help you put on the waist trainer, they may be mesh corsets or even faux leather corsets.
Waist trainers also have a far less rigid structure than the corset-tops, with flexi-steel bones and softer high-quality materials. This looks better under clothes than a rigid steel-boned corset.
The fasteners on waist trainers are often made from secure steel hooks, which are more durable and effective than lacing you find on traditional corsets. Lacing can tear easily and are more susceptible to things like moisture.
The most salient benefit of waist trainers over steel boned corsets is that they are far more comfortable. The better flexibility allows you to move and breathe more freely. With a waist trainer, you can carry out day-to-day activities around the house.
With steel boned corsets, the rigid steel bones will dig into your body and it will be really uncomfortable to sit down or walk around in it. With waist trainers, you don’t have this issue.
Also, unlike steel boned corsets, waist trainers come in a variety of different torso lengths. This not only caters to women with different body proportions, but allows you to choose a comfortable torso length that doesn’t dig into your body.
With steel boned corsets, you mostly get one torso length, which is not helpful for women who may be the same waist size but have different torso lengths. When the corset is longline, it will dig into your back.
Waist trainers, especially from Luxx, are shorter and more flexible at the back but are straight and rigid at the front. This will keep your belly tucked in, while not digging painfully into your back.
Easier To Breathe
With a waist trainer, your body also won’t feel suffocated, so you can breathe more freely. As mentioned earlier, a huge problem with steel boned corsets is that they sit too tightly against the body, putting too much pressure on the lungs and ribcage. This means you won’t be able to fully exhale and inhale, or breathe in the maximum amount of oxygen into your lungs.
This is dangerous to your circulation and organs, because it means that less oxygen is being carried around the body. With waist trainers, if you get the right size, you are able to breathe freely without feeling tired or suffocated.
Less Risk Of Digestive Problems
Corsets tend to push your organs in and squeeze them because they are so rigid. This can interfere with your digestion after a large meal, leading to various digestive issues such as indigestion.
With waist trainers, your digestive organs (stomach) won’t feel like they are squished in, and you’ll have an easier and healthier relationship with food.
Better Blood Circulation
Because of the rigidity, steel boned corsets can cut off blood supply to the areas that are physically restricted. This could lead to a host of other problems, such as increased risk of blood clots. This can be really painful and uncomfortable as well.
With waist trainers, the flexi-steel bones are not going to cut off blood circulation in your skin or abdomen. You’ll feel more comfortable and there’s less risk of sudden aches or pains caused by poor blood circulation.
Better Mental Health
One of the worst aspects of steel boned corsets, and that attracts a lot of criticism from medical professionals is their harmful effect on mental health. Because corsets are tightened with lace, there’s no physical limit to how much you can tighten.
This is obviously bad for people who are very unhappy with their bodies or have body dysmorphia. They will always be tempted to overtighten to get faster results, causing damage to their breathing and internal organs.
In some extreme cases of wearing corsets, some women have even taken out ribs in order to get a super small and defined waist. Over time, this is very damaging to your mental health and can trigger things like eating disorders.
Waist trainers are a little easier on your mental health. Due to the limited number of hooks on each product, you won’t be tempted to overtighten. You let the waist trainer do its job gradually, and your results are more realistic and sustainable.
Once you’re done with one waist trainer size, you have to physically buy a smaller waist trainer when the time is right. This removes the temptation to overtighten in one go, like you see with corset wearers.
Easier To Remove
Another great design aspect of waist trainers is that they are easier to put on and take off. This makes it safer and easier to remove during an emergency than a traditional corset. Waist trainers often have ‘eyes’ and ‘hooks’ or Velcro which is easier to fasten.
Corsets, on the other hand, have a complicated system of lacing. This is kind of like trying to tie your shoelaces from the back, which is super tedious.
Waist trainers encourage you to keep a better posture. While we’ve been drilled from a young age to keep our backs straight, it is easy to ‘forget’ and go into a slouched position when you are sitting for hours. With waist trainers, it’s very difficult to slouch, so you’ll automatically end up with a better posture.
Summary - Why You Should Stay Away From Steel Boned Corsets
Steel boned corsets should be avoided because their extremely rigid steel bone structure can lead to a lot of harm—both physically and mentally. They can squeeze your internal organs, make it harder to breathe and lead to poor circulation. And all of this is on top of being super uncomfortable and painful, this is not worth trying to alter your natural waist.