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What are corsets?

Shaped clothing that thins the waist or has a slimming effect.

They're also known as Girdles, Waist cinchers, Tightlacing, or Corset training.

What do corsets do?

How long do corsets last?

The effects last as long as the corset is worn. Prolonged use over a period of years can be used to ‘train’ the body to have a smaller waist.

How do I stay safe?


There is little or no medical research into the health effects of wearing corsets. A literature search by Gender Construction Kit found only one medical study 1. The long term health risks are entirely unknown.

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about the health risks of corsets.

Wearing a corset loosely, or for short periods of time, is likely to be fairly safe. However, tightly lacing the corset to reduce your waist size carries unknown health risks. In particular, the effects on young people whose bones are still developing has not been studied.

Like many tight-fitting garments, corsets can restrict breathing. Long-term wear of a waist-training corset can permanently affect your body. As with other tight-fitting clothing such as binders, you may be able to reduce the risk by taking some precautions like:

  • Making sure your corset is the right size and is suitable for your body type
  • Listening to your body, and removing the corset if you feel any pain
  • Taking rest days where you do not wear the corset
  • Getting a high quality corset
  • Starting slow, only wearing your corset for short periods of time at first, to allow both the corset and your body to get used to it
  • Tightening slowly, wearing it slightly tighter each time, rather than immediately wearing it as tight as you can stand
  • Not wearing it while exercising or sleeping

However, there is no real evidence out there showing how effective these techniques will be at reducing the risk.

What kinds are there?

  • A waist-training corset is a garment meant to be worn daily to permanently change the shape of your waist.
  • A waist cincher is a garment that makes a temporary change to the size and shape of your waist.


  1. 1.
    Gau, Colleen Ruby (1998) “Historic medical perspectives of corseting and two physiologic studies with reenactors.” Link

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