Squeezing truth out of controversial corset diet

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kim Kardashian, Amber Rose, Snooki, Brooke Burke and Jessica Alba are among the celebrities that swear by waist training, also known as the corset diet. They say wearing a steel-boned corset gives them that hourglass shape most women want. That could be one reason corsets are the top seller at the Frugal Diva inside The Jacksonville Landing.

"I would say we sell 20 or more waist trainers a week," said Ashley Price, a manager at the Frugal Diva.

And she doesn't just sell them; she wears one almost every day.

"I am a year into my waist training journey, and I've lost about six inches and about 25 pounds," Price said. "Not so much on the weight side but definitely more on the shape side."

Jessica Meetz has lost even more around her middle.

"So far, I have been waist training six months, going on seven, and I have lost 35 pounds," Meetz said. "I have gone down seven inches in my waist."

Waist training has been around for decades. Who can forget the scene of Scarlett O'Hara getting laced up in her corset in "Gone With The Wind"?  

But employees at the Frugal Diva are used to answering questions for those unfamiliar with the technique.

Price said a lot of women wonder about being able to do normal activities. 

"Yes, you can sit, eat and do any normal activity," she explained. "It's more of a support and comfort than constricting."

"Really it does portion controlling, so now I eat average healthy portions versus what I used to eat," Meetz said.

Nurse practitioner Jim Whited also helps people lose inches, but through diet and exercise. He is concerned that if the waist trainer is tight enough to decrease appetite, then it could be causing internal damage.

"It's a very dangerous process because you are constricting not only the outside but the inside," Whited said. "Once you do that, you decrease blood flow to vital organs. You can see early renal failure, liver failure, lots of bad things happen when you are constricting to that point."

While Whited said a few nights in a corset won't hurt, when users wear it day after day, he believes it could cause serious damage. He also said that wearing it too tight is really dangerous.

"When it starts to hurt on the inside, when we start having repetitive pain and syndromes on the inside, you can guarantee something is changing," Whited said. "It can be a small inclusion on an artery and that kidney will suffer greatly. It's not a good idea."

But the staff members at Frugal Diva said they make sure customers are properly fitted.

"When you come to us, we will fit you," Price said. "If you get one that is too small, it won't be very comfortable and we don't advocate that at all."

They also don't recommend working out in the corset the way some celebs have been photographed doing. Nor do they suggest wearing it more than eight hours a day. However, they do say you will need to wear it for about six months if you want to see results like theirs.

"I've gone from a dress size 24 down to an 18," Price said. "Things fit better than they did before and in a better way."

Something that medical experts say is very important if someone decides to buy one of these, is to be sure to get an authentic, steel-boned corset that's good quality and be sure to be properly fitted. It shouldn't be too tight.

The Frugal Diva offers free fitting inside its store. Also, getting a waist training corsets on and off by yourself can be a bit challenging, so here is an instructional video that shows you how to do it step by step.