My Introduction To Shapewear, Or How I Almost Waist-Trained Like A Kardashian

by Anna Whiston-Donaldson
An hourglass with white sand flowing down

My breath feels shallow, ribcage compressed, brain a bit foggy. I have inadvertently stumbled into the world of waist training, and I’m not so sure I’ll stay here.

A few weeks ago, I spent a sleepless night watching home shopping shows. I managed to avoid buying electronics and a decorative vase with pumpkins on it. But when a Real Housewife came on to talk about revolutionary tank tops that hug your body with a soft embrace, I was sold. I love hugs!

She described not having felt like herself following the birth of her baby, so she invented shapewear that made her feel more confident and glamorous. Sure, I’m 14 years postpartum, but who says no to the promise of added confidence and glamour? But wait, there’s more! Each tank top was reversible, and she would throw in three pairs of matching underwear for free!

This purchase, from the comfort of my couch, would round out my tank collection and get me ready for fall. The fact that the tanks had “Yummie” in their name just made them more desirable. Hugs? Yummie? Yes, please!

The company was sold out of the small tanks, though. The next size up was medium/large, and I was hesitant. I generally hover in the small area. What if I they were too loose to give me the cozy hug I wanted?

I needn’t have worried. I got my hug all right, but instead of a gentle one, it was more reminiscent of the kind doled out by Lennie in Of Mice and Men. I tugged my arms into the first tank, pausing to catch my breath before managing to wrestle my breasts into the appropriate spot. Next, I pulled the extra long tank down over my ample hips. Everyone knows long tanks are the best because moms have to bend over a lot, and crack is whack.

However, as soon as it hit my hips, the industrial-grade fabric flipped in upon itself right back up to my boob area faster than a kid’s slap bracelet works its way around a wrist. When I managed to pull the fabric back down, my waist was cinched with a fervor and fierceness far stronger than any wide 1980s-era belt in my past. After another short break, I pulled on the matching undies, the top of which reached slightly below my breasts. It was no waist-training corset, but it was more than snug.

The silhouette in the mirror, while not quite Kardashian, was definitely an hourglass. All of my soft parts were corralled within the confines of the super-strong fabric. I realized if I wore these regularly, perhaps I would stand up straighter and even have a slightly smaller waist to show for it.

But there’s the breathing issue. If I were to choose to wear these daily, I’d have to leave notes around the house, reminders: “Short, shallow breaths. Short, shallow breaths,” lest I pass out.

I’ve decided to wear the undies but ditch the tank tops, so I’ll land somewhere in the middle on the shapewear continuum. And I think I’ll ask for some extra hugs from my daughter and husband and get my additional yummies from ice cream, the way God intended.