It's the year 2015, but corsets are making a comeback like it's 1850.
Over the past few months, I've seen a lot of selfies of celebrity women wearing small, painful-looking corsets in the gym accompanied by gushing captions about "waist training." I ignored it for a while, thinking this was just another product that the Kardashians get paid to talk about, and that the "fad" would go away.
I was wrong. Waist training is now apparently "a thing," a thing with over 440,000 photos tagged on Instagram (#waisttraining) and a seemingly endless stream of related tweets. Women are squeezing themselves into restrictive corsets and "waist training" belts for hours each day in order to make their midsections smaller. And, given that relatively breathable shapewear like Spanx literally squeezes your organs, what is a trainer made of stiff fabric and completely inflexible boning going to do to a woman's body?
So it turns out "waist training" isn't about seeing how far you can stretch your stomach with food. Who knew!
— Ashley Mayer (@ashleymayer) May 1, 2015
To be clear, if a woman wants a smaller waist, that is her own personal business. But waist training isn't the same thing as committing to a daily ab routine. It's a scary, painful and potentially dangerous "technique" that women are inexplicably embracing in order to take a couple inches off their midsections -- a change that only lasts as long as you continue to "train" your waist.
"As the corset is holding your waistline in, it's also putting pressure on your internal organs," Spinal surgeon Michael Gleiber wrote in a blog for The Huffington Post. "Among the potential health hazards of waist training are acid reflux, rib damage and bruising. Corsets can also restrict blood flow back to the heart, which could affect your blood pressure and cause dizziness or fainting."
Magazines like US Weekly and Life And Style have been running articles by staff members who tried out this new "craze." By all accounts, it sounds completely hellish. Danielle Prescod from Elle wore a waist trainer for a month, concluding that she is "officially a corset convert" despite what sounds like the Worst Experience Ever:
Waist training gives me a bad attitude. It makes me irrationally mean. I am irritable, cranky, and short-tempered. I am sending rude e-mails. I am blank-staring at jokes, when I could just give a polite giggle. I am walking away in the middle of conversations when I've just had enough. It's the corset—I realize that it's controlling me. The other thing is, I'm hungry. Actually, I'm HANGRY. The corset is so tight and constricting that I find myself skipping meals. The bladder issues are out of control. I have to pee every 10 seconds. Still, I persevere. Why? Because I am obsessive and crazy and I want a waist like Kim's. So I accept it.
Women are constantly told that we have to suffer to be beautiful -- as the old adage goes, "beauty is pain." However, the pain of walking for a couple hours in high heels is a very different thing from the organ-crushing, muscle-damaging pain that accompanies waist training.
Essentially, by embracing waist training, women are signing on for all of the health problems that Victorian ladies had when wearing tightly-laced corsets on a daily basis was in vogue.
How could it possibly be worth it?
Waists don't need to be "trained." We know that all waists are beautiful, so show us a picture of yours in the comments, Tweet us @HuffPostWomen, or tag your pictures on Instagram using #WaistsDontNeedTraining.
Also on HuffPost:
HuffPost Women sends stories about relationships, politics, sex, work, culture and body image, straight to your inbox three days a week. Learn more