Over the years, society has developed many things to enhance the human body to make it more appealing. From waist training to plastic surgery, people do a lot to make themselves acceptable to ever growing societal demands. Waist training was used as a method of achieving cosmetic modification to the figure and posture, and sometimes, is used to get the sensation of bodily restriction.
Evolution of Waist Training
Invented by the Minoans of Crete, corsets were not well known until the French revolution. They had shoulder straps and ended at the waist. Waist trainers had a push-up technique which hoisted the breasts and narrowed the waist, giving a lady an hourglass shape. Soon enough, the corset became a fashion trend. It was embraced as a Graeco-Roman style with high waist dresses and gathered below the bosom. This Empire silhouette dominated the fashion scene until the 1850s when natural waistlines regained their popularity. This was known as the Victorian silhouette, which featured dresses of small waists and exaggerated shoulders.
Waist training was still being used, mostly by young and fashionable women. This was especially so for balls, fashion gatherings and other occasions of societal display. Older women still tight-laced occasionally. The Victorian corset had a better design as it was more curvaceous than cylindrical. It was longer, and a bit more flared out. With time, people started complaining of health issues related to tight lacing. Most women still tight-laced, ignoring the warnings about it being detrimental to one’s health and religion.
Women who tight-laced were condemned afterwards, and dress reformers encouraged exercise and eating healthy as a way of reducing waist size naturally. There was a rise of feminists set to ban the small, corseted waist and eventually, by early 1900s, waist training was written out of the fashion scene. In came the artistic dress movement encouraging free loose clothing and natural waists.
The fashion industry then worked on using different materials like silk, to show off curvy youthful bodies, naturally with loose clothing. Undergarments were then introduced -brassieres and girdles- to give an illusion of a good body curvature for those who desired to have one. This also enabled women to take part in sporting activities as the girdle had an idea of monitoring the bell and hips without constricting the waist.
Enter the Modern Era
Corsets made a comeback with the introduction of BDSM, a new-found fetish. In modern times, corsets are mostly used for erotic purposes and as a means of waist trimming. Tight-lacing is not as fashionable as it was in the Renaissance era.
The ‘punk’ trend brought back corsets and soon enough, corsets were all the rage in fashion runways of famous designers like Viviene Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier. This was in the early 1980s and soon enough, pop stars like Madona and Cyndi Lauper joined in the craze, bringing corsets to the forefront of the public’s mind. Waist trainers are not so much a major fashion trend, but rather a means of trimming waists so as to create beautiful silhouettes as exhibited by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Amber Rose and Jessica Alba. They mostly utilize latex trainers during workouts in a practice known as waist taming.