I wore a
misogynistic medieval torture device Kim Kardashian style waist trainer for a week.
Well, not a week exactly. I didn’t actually last that long. It was about three and a half days in the end…
Plus I took it off at night.
You know how famous actors, artists and journalists will suffer for their craft? Mila Kunis, for example, has talked this week about dropping to a scarily low weight ahead of her much acclaimed role in Black Swan, so she would ‘look the part’ of a determined and somewhat deranged psycho ballerina. Closer to home, a confronting and divisive video art exhibition opened in Melbourne this week where the artist organised to have sex with a stranger in an attempt to ‘recreate’ the experience of rape.
These are serious issues, for serious people. The ethics of which are certainly contestable.
Now, I like to consider myself a serious person. So I’d like to be able to tell you that I wore the aforementioned waist trainer as a grand social, physical and psychological experiment. An experiment in which I put my body on the line for the pursuit of deeper knowledge and expanded understanding.
But the truth is that I’m no ground-breaking investigative journalist. I’m just an average-sized woman who despondently compares herself to Victoria’s Secret models and is on a lifelong quest to achieve slimness without having to do much exercise or give up my co-dependant relationship with cheese.
I’d owned the device for a while. I ordered it online one evening – just a couple of months after having a baby – when I was up late breastfeeding and being a total bloody numnut. It is a mustardy-flesh colour. It looks a little like regular shape-wear, with the addition of approximately 40 bra-links, some boning and two zips. It aims to smooth/slim your body (again: like shape-wear) but at the same time keeps muscles working while you wear it. Thus supposedly giving you washboard-abs and an itsy-bitsy waist sans changing your exercise or diet habits.
On set using my @premadonna87’s waist trainer before I shoot! #premadonna87 is my fave! @pre_shop #waistgangsociety A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on
First you put on the contraption like normal underwear. Except the underwear is doll rather than human sized. Then you do up 16 bra-hooks down the right side of your body. At this point, when looking in the mirror, it doesn’t seem physically possible that the edges of the material could meet and connect on the left side. Such is the wizardry of Kardashian corset science.
Next, you suck in with all your might to be able to connect the flaps of material around your left side love handle. This necessitates a lot of bouncing around and mangled facial expressions and another 16 bra-hooks. I should note here that there are there ‘levels’ of bra-hooks to chose from, the third giving you the smallest possible waist. I almost gave my life in pursuit of the first.
Finally, once you’re all clipped in. You do up four more bra-hooks in front of your belly button, cinching in your waist even further than the already-hard-to-breathe level. You do up a zip, catching more than a few stray bits of flesh, and then another four more clips over the top.
The result is extremely unattractive.
There are unsightly bulges coming from every edge of the waist-trainer. My middle is admittedly, miniature. But there is nothing sexy or womanly about the silhouette I’ve created. Even after getting dressed, it looks as if I’m wearing a broken suit of armour under my clothes.
Watch Mia Freedman try a waist trainer below. Post continues after video.
During the first four or five hours of wearing the waist trainer, I hardly notice it. Genuinely. I go about my day and am distracted by whatever the task at hand is. When I eat breakfast and drink my coffee, I’m aware of not having as much room in my belly but am otherwise unfussed. Going to the bathroom is annoying because there’s the unhooking and re-hooking of bra-clips to do through. It’s fiddly but not actually unpleasant.
At the six hour mark, I’m sitting in the waiting area of the ABC in Melbourne. I’m skimming some notes before going on the radio to talk about the current election campaign. I take my usual deep breath in, calming the nerves that come with doing live media. Bad idea. Very bad idea.
By taking an unusually large inward breath I’ve sucked my stomach in further and the waist trainer has followed the shape of my body. I can’t actually breathe back out again. I can’t get back to where I was holding my core muscles just a few seconds earlier. I’m stuck and can only take the shallowest of breaths. I feel a little dizzy during the interview. I can’t quite concentrate on what I am saying properly. As soon as it’s over, I rush to the bathroom and peel the contraption off.
Day two is harder, again. My lower ribs feel quite tender and I experience several dizzy periods around lunchtime. I’m easily distracted and can’t focus on a task for very long. I had planned to go for a run that morning but decide against it because running will necessitate breathing in more deeply than I can manage. I realise halfway through the day that my posture is a little better but it doesn’t make up for the constant feeling of being a goldfish flapping about on the table next to its tank.
By day three, I am starting to get the hang of waist training. I can get the thing on and off quite quickly. I know how much I can eat and how much I can’t. I know how deeply I can breathe in before it becomes painful. I don’t drink much water. It’s uncomfortable to drink; it just takes up room inside my belly and makes the pressure from the waist trainer more intense. I realise late in the afternoon that I’ve stopped speaking as much in meetings. I’m saving my breath.
I’m also extremely tired. I sleep for 10 hours that night and wake up still feeling rubbish.
On day four, I begin to feel extremely sick. Around the three hour mark, my stomach started swirling as if I’d eaten something bad. I mentally review my food intake for the day. I check the fridge to see if the milk I put into my tea has passed its used by date but it’s fine. I start to panic because I think I’m going to vomit. Screw getting to a week, I can’t get this thing off my body fast enough.
An hour later, I am at home, lying on my bed in the dark and staring at the ceiling. I feel awful. My breath is still shallow, I’m dehydrated and I have what feels like acid reflux. The dark pictures I see on the inside of my closed eyelids are interrupted by flashes of bright light. I have a headache. It actually takes a couple of hours before I feel well enough to stand up and walk around again.
I feel silly writing all this down because I’m not sure what I was expecting from the whole experience. I suppose, at worst I thought it would make a funny story. At best, I thought I might lose a couple of centimetres off my waist and drop some kilograms from my frame. I absolutely did not expect what I got: The transformation of my usually happy self into a quiet, withdrawn, exhausted, hungry, sickly and empty-headed individual.
But the truth is that vanity can take a sensible person to an incredibly stupid place.
I know I am not the first, nor will I be the last to fall victim to it.