Staying shapely with corsets girdles 'waist-trainers'

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by CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 10:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 21 at 1:54 AM

She despised the hardships of war, but Scarlett O' Hara was more than willing to suck it up (and in) to achieve the perfect figure.

In one of the most unforgettable scenes from “Gone with the Wind,” our heroine boasts a 17-inch waistline.

"It's been around since the 1800s," said Cass Butler of Butler Body Wear. "They called it 'corset training,' however, obviously we weren’t around in the 1800s."

None of us were around, but somehow the corset and the idea that women can mold their bodies into an hourglass has spanned centuries.

"From the video vixens to some other major celebrities that we all are aware of, everyone wants the slender waist, larger behind or derriere, and the flatter stomach," Butler said. "And that’s what we see on the celebrities, your Kim Kardashians."

Everyone from Kim Kardashian to Jessica Alba, who both claim corsets helped them get their bodies back more quickly after having babies.

Now, ordinary women everywhere are sharing photos of whittled waists on social media and crediting "waist training" — the 21st century version of corset training.

Many of them are like Lancaster entrepreneur Cass Butler, who not only sells latex waist-shapers, but wears one herself eight to 10 hours a day.

"Not only am I the president, I’m a client," she joked.

Women who swear by the waist cinchers say they are weight loss tools that double as shapewear by creating a smooth silhouette underneath clothing, free of bumps and bulges.

Butler said in eight to 10 weeks you can expect to lose at least two inches off your waist. Over time, she said, you should see a real change in the body's overall shape.

While a healthy diet and exercise is recommended, she said it's not necessary for results. Plus, your slouched shoulders and bent back will correct themselves to reflect perfect posture.

"This is training," Butler said. "We are actually contouring the shape of the body."

Nikki Jackson said she was frustrated by other shapewear, which she said often redistributed her weight into noticeable lumps elsewhere.

"I've worn so many different girdles myself, and I was skeptical," she said.

But after trying it, Jackson said she liked how she looked in her clothes — and the attention she received from her husband.

"Your walk is different; your strut is different; and you hold your head a little bit higher," Jackson said. "And then when you have the mister still watching — and I’ve been married 27 years — that’s a plus!"

If women like Jackson are skeptical, some medical experts are even more doubtful.

"So the question has been, do they cause harm?" asked Dr. Alfred Johnson, who specializes in internal medicine and women’s health. "The answer is yes... they can if you tighten them too tight. If people use them before they are fully mature and while they are still growing, it can cause deformities."

Johnson said he believes any weight or inches lost are because the waist-trainer compresses the stomach, forcing the wearer to eat less.

"If you squeeze it too tight, it affects the organs," he said "It can affect your digestion. It can affect the bowel movements."

Johnson said body-shapers can definitely improve posture and make someone a more mindful eater. He doesn't recommend wearing it during exercise because, it can restrict breathing.

However, Teresa "Shorty" Reed wears hers even during an intense workout. She said she has lost three inches from her waist.

"I can work out and not wear the trainer and probably get the same results, " but I have found that this is getting the results faster," Reed said.

News 8 also spoke with Tamara Starks, who has a one-year-old baby. She showed us how she looks with and without the trainer.

“After the baby and the added weight in the midsection I’m not used to, it just made me not want to wear anything I had in my closet,” Starks said.

She's been wearing a trainer for two months.

"After the first couple of weeks of wearing it; I was able to go over in my notches," she said.

Jackson, who was skeptical at first, now wants more,

"Do you think they could make some arm trainers, thigh trainers and other trainers? Because I will take those," she said.

Butler said she's taking more orders every day on her website — even some from men. The desire to tame the tummy is as universal as it is timeless.

Medical experts warn against overdoing it, though.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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