The thing about a corset is you can't breathe very well (or, apparently, eat very well) while in it. And since everything Victorian is new again — just look at a recent Marc Jacobs campaign — the negative aspects of corset wearing (namely, that it restricts your entire midsection) have been reimagined in a decidedly different light: diet potential.
Jessica Alba, in an interview with Net-A-Porter, claims to have worn corsets for months following her pregnancy. And, Emily Small's current piece in The Daily Beast, "You Should Probably Pass on This Whole ‘Corset Diet’ Fad," explores other current advocates of the practice. So, is the corset making a comeback?
From TheCorsetDiet.com: "Following a reduced calorie diet can make you feel irritable as well as take up too much time and effort counting calories for everything you eat. With the Corset Diet, this isn’t the case, you will lose weight by simply wearing the specially designed corset. It really is this simple!" As simple as physically debilitating yourself and restricting the total potential volume of your stomach with an iron girdle. The "official" undergarment sold by the Corset Diet comes in at a steep $192, yet looks like your run-of-the-mill Victoria's Secret Valentine's Day special.
I actually don't doubt that the corset diet would work to make someone eat less. There are other products, such as the Malory Band, that also work by creating physical resistance to eating food. But, have you ever worn a corset? I have, once, to a costume-required, midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (come on, we've all done it once). It was hard enough to sit through a film in the thing; I can't imagine actively going through an entire day like that.
The creators of the diet claim that it both works to decrease you appetite over time and to permanently reshape your body into an hourglass figure. With continued use, corsets do actually reshape the human body. Women who wore corsets throughout their lives did alter their anatomy; ribs are pushed up and closer together, squeezing internal organs and restricting the diaphragm. It's a permanent hourglass shape, but it comes at the cost of the body's proper functioning. However, it's doubtful that wearing a corset for a few months in adulthood would cause the same kind of structural changes.
Some women enjoy wearing corsets for fun, stability after pregnancy, or sculpting. If it's the aesthetic that you're after, then corsets can be a cheeky, sexy addition to any wardrobe. But, I question any diet that purports to "help" women lose weight by physically restricting them.
A healthy lifestyle requires movement and freedom. And, personally, I wouldn't sign on to any "self-improvement" plan that might send me to a fainting couch. (The Daily Beast)