What is Tightlacing?
Tightlacing, also sometimes referred to as extreme waist training, is a particular style of corseting with the goal of shrinking your waist to the smallest size physically possible.
Particularly successful tightlacers have been able to permanently reduce the circumference of their waists by up to 8 or even 10 inches. Of course, because of its more extreme, strict nature, tightlacing has drawn a lot of criticism. It is likely that most people who have been regularly tightlacing for more than a few months have at one point or another been accused of "destroying their bodies," most likely by someone who is neither a medical professional nor a waist training expert.
For example, see our article here debunking several completely false myths regarding waist training and its "negative" effects on health, up to and including "atrophying muscles" and "permanently rearranging and damaging organs".
Tightlacing is definitely not for everyone, and does require a level of commitment above and beyond that needed to conduct a more standard waist training routine. You do not need to engage in extreme waist training in order to lose weight, get fit, or obtain an hourglass figure. However, due to the constant, pervasive negative information regarding tightlacing, we've constructed this brief article detailing factual information about the subject, including tips for those who may be interested in trying it out.
So if you do think that tightlacing might be right for you, you can do so without being overcome by fear or falling prey to misinformation.
Defining Extreme Waist Training (aka Tightlacing)
The factual, literal, dictionary definition of tightlacing is a lot less scary than bloggers and "experts" around the Internet want to make it seem. Simply put, tightlacing refers to gradually lacing your corset tighter over an extended period of time in order to dramatically shrink the size of your waist.
Although some tightlacers may be able to complete this process using only a single corset gradually tightened over time, others find themselves needed to purchase smaller corsets with narrower waists as they begin to see measurable progress.
A tightlacing program may - but does not necessarily - include some elements which can also be found in the majority of standard waist training routines.
For example, tightlacers might go on diets to assist with the weight loss and waist trimming process. Like other waist trainers, they will often focus on portion control, eating several smaller meals rather than a few big ones and eliminating foods known to cause bloating such as refined carbohydrates (white breads, cookies, cakes, and white rice) and soda.
Extreme waist trainers may also follow an exercise program focused on the core and abdominal muscles, in order to strengthen them and allow them to work as hard as possible during the time spent corseted. As it is not recommended to exercise in a traditional corset, due to the possibility of warping or snapping the steel bones, even tightlacers typically switch to a latex cincher or leave the waist trainer off when they hit the gym.
The major areas in which tightlacing differs from standard waist training are both related to duration. In order to achieve dramatic results as quickly as possible, many tightlacers will wear their corsets for longer than the 8-10 hours per day which our waist training guides recommend.
They will also usually adopt a training program which spans a greater amount of time, such as 6-8 weeks or even longer. They may also be extremely reluctant to skip days for any reason. Standard waist training, on the other hand, emphasizes regular breaks, including both days off each week and longer pauses after a few weeks of steady training.
How to Tightlace
So you want to try out tightlacing? Well, first, you'll get started in much the same way as you would if you were beginning a less intensive waist training program.
First, measure your bust, waist, hips and torso length - see here to learn how - and then use our catalog of products (found here) to select the waist trainer which is right for you. If you're going to be tightlacing, obviously you'll need something with laces, so your garment of choice should ideally be a traditional corset. If you want to pick up a latex cincher for exercise; however, you can do that as well.
Make sure that the laces are sturdy and strong - they should be made from ribbon or cotton cord and be capable of being repeatedly and regularly tightened without experiencing any damage. Typically, we recommend that smaller individuals choose a corset with a waist measurement between 4 and 7 inches (10 and 18cm) narrower than that of their own, while larger or plus sized individuals seek out something 7 - 10 inches (18-25cm) smaller.
However, if tightlacing is your goal, you'll probably want to go for something more strict right from the get go. Choose a goal waist measurement - usually something between 8 and 10 inches smaller than your current waist - and pick a corset which helps you achieve that goal. (If you're nervous, feel free to start with a less extreme corset - you can always head back to our catalog to pick up a smaller one later as you start to see progress!)
When your corset arrives, don't feel pressured to immediately lace it up as tight as it can go. Ideally, your corset should feel snug and tight but not cause you any pain, discomfort, or difficulty breathing. If you're not seeing as much of an initial decrease in your waist circumference, don't worry! There's no rush!
Tightlacing is never an immediate process - results will come over time. Like with any other waist trainer, your tightlacing corset will need a break-in period in order to allow it to slowly mold to the shape of your body. What this means is - don't immediately jump into wearing it all day long.
Your weight loss and waist slimming won't happen any faster, and you might find yourself grumpy, uncomfortable, irritable and more likely to give up right away rather than giving your corset a second chance. So take it slow. Start out by staying corseted for approximately 2 hours per day, then gradually increase to 4, 6 ,8, and finally 10. 10 hours is the average amount of time recommended to wear your corset per day if you intend to tightlace.(If you aren't able to stay laced that long during the day due to climate, weather or work restrictions, you can give sleeping in your waist trainer a try - go here to learn more!)
Don't rush into increasing your time - do so when it feels right to you. Take days off when you feel you need them - we recommend approximately one "day of rest" per week. Permanent results will often take anywhere from one month to six weeks to begin to show, and rushing is not likely to make them come any faster.
If you plan to include a diet in your tightlacing routine, you can go ahead and get that started in the first week. If you're going to exercise in a cincher to supplement your daily corseting; however, wait until you can comfortably stay laced for between 3 and 5 hours before taking your cincher to the gym. Exercising while laced up is pretty intense, and we don't want it to take away your enthusiasm for tightlacing!
Tightlacing Doesn't Cause Permanent Body Damage
The false accusations associated with tightlacing are practically too many to count. "They'll make the muscles of your core and abdomen become so weak that you won't be able to walk or move without a corset anymore." "Your organs will shift and rearrange so that your intestines are in your chest and your lungs are in your stomach." "Your lungs will get smaller so you will not be able to get enough air each time you breathe."
The odds are, you've heard at least one of these claims before, or read about it on some Internet blog claiming to be backed up by medical evidence. The good news is - every single one of these myths is just that, completely false!
MRIs performed on lifelong tightlacers show internal organs remaining exactly the same size, shape and orientation as they would without the corset. Any minor changes which might have been observed were significantly less severe than anything which would normally happen to a person's body during pregnancy, putting to rest once and for all that idea that tightlacing will "rearrange" your body in harmful ways.
Fabulous Tightlacers Today!
Many individuals of all ages, genders, and body types exist who have been tightlacing daily for years and even decades and are still happy, healthy, and active in addition to possessing fabulous hourglass figures.
Perhaps the crowning example is Cathie Jung, current Guinness World Record holder for "world's smallest waist". With a waist now measuring only 15 inches (38cm) while corseted, Jung has been successfully tightlacing since 1983. Without a corset, her waist measures 21 inches (53cm), approximately eight inches smaller than what it was when she began the process. Jung is fit, active and healthy, and remains engaged in the tightlacing community. She proudly shares her experience and love for corseting with other enthusiasts around the world.
Another tightlacer who has frequently received undue criticism for her efforts is Penny Brown, who made the news a few years ago when she appeared on the surgery-focused reality TV series Botched. Although Brown sought the program hosts' aid for the removal of scars, they focused on her 28 inch (71cm) waist and used her appearance to attempt to criticize her tightlacing lifestyle. Within a few days, news and gossip sites alike all across the Internet had seized on Brown's story - and, unfortunately, most were as harsh on her as the Botched hosts had been.
Brown used her time on Botched to speak out in favor of the extreme waist training community, and continues to advocate for herself and her fellow tightlacers today. Just over a decade of successful tightlacing successfully shrunk Brown's waist from 38 inches (97cm) to 28, though she does own corsets which can temporarily shrink it a further 5 inches. Although she has for short stretches of time stayed corseted for 23 out of 24 hours each day, Brown has suffered no health complications from her tightlacing and lives an active lifestyle alongside her spouse, even traveling with him on his various military deployments. Brown's number one tip for tightlacers? To love themselves, and to do their best not to let the inevitable criticism get to them. (Her number two tip, as shared during her time on Botched, was to avoid spicy foods, which can cause mild acid reflux and throat pain and can induce further sweating in addition to what a corset typically causes.)
Empowerment, Confidence, Control
...are just a few of the positive feelings which even a couple weeks spent tightlacing can provide. Everyone loves to spread the myths about how it's supposedly so harmful, but why does nobody ever talk about all the great things you can experience from it as well? Well, if nobody else will, then we will.
Tightlacing can help you feel more in control of your body. Tightlacing can make you feel empowered as a way of claiming your body and declaring it yours regardless of what others might say. Tightlacing can increase your confidence as you look in the mirror each day and see that long dreamed for hourglass figure becoming your brand new reality! And we really do mean it when we say tightlacing can benefit anyone and everyone.
To pick just one example out of many, extreme waist training has taken off among the transgender community, in which trans men use it to look and feel more feminine by achieving an enhanced bust and hips and narrower waist. Yes, that's right - tightlacing can have concrete, measurable, psychologically beneficial effects as it helps people all around the world get closer to the body - and identity - that they desire!
We get it. Tightlacing, aka extreme waist training, doesn't exactly have the best reputation. For every article like this one, there's five or even ten blog posts criticizing it; for every positive, impassioned speaker like Penny Brown there are five or ten judgmental individuals insisting that extreme trainers are just "destroying their bodies".
That's why our number one tip here at Get Waisted for all our future tightlacers is this: seek community. The Internet has led to the rise of a number of websites, forums, and social media gatherings on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where fans and practitioners of tightlacing can get together, support one another and share their stories.
So reach out, join up, say hello - you might find yourself making tons of new friends who will share your empowering, life-changing waist training journey with you! Of course, reaching out and seeking community can mean connecting with us as well if you want it to! Feel free to contact the Get Waisted staff at any time if you have any questions or just want to share your own favorite tips or success stories.
We love hearing from our fellow waist training fans around the world! And if you've finished reading this article even thinking about the idea that you might want to try out tightlacing, we've got the first step right here for you: head over to our catalog and pick out an awesome laced corset to help you on your journey today!