Tight’s not right: The corset couture controversy - Hindustan Times
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Tight’s not right: The corset couture controversy

By Ismat Tahseen
May 17, 2024 12:09 PM IST

The waist-cinching garment that constricts the body could do untold damage if worn for a long duration, warn health experts.

In a world where hourglass figures are setting the norm, showing off your obsessively svelte figure can lead you into dangerous territory! Take Kim Kardashian, the reality TV star whose Met Gala red carpet appearance whipped up a concerned frenzy. Her tight and sexy Maison Margiela corset, meant to flaunt an impossibly tiny waist, had her fans wondering if she was struggling to breathe. Canadian actress Taylor Russell also evoked reactions as she wore a Loewe corset that was styled to look like wood, at the Met Gala.

 Kim Kardashian’s tight corset that she recently wore to the Met Gala, is putting the spotlight on how extreme fashion can hamper health (Instagram)
Kim Kardashian’s tight corset that she recently wore to the Met Gala, is putting the spotlight on how extreme fashion can hamper health (Instagram)

Taylor Russell wore a Loewe corset that was styled to look like wood at the Met Gala (Angela WEISS/AFP)
Taylor Russell wore a Loewe corset that was styled to look like wood at the Met Gala (Angela WEISS/AFP)

The warning on this centuries-old practice of using corsets to cinch the waist has been out for long. Despite this, it remains one of the leading trends among top fashion houses. This leads to the question: are we sweeping the corset risk under the carpet? Experts delve into its potential health hazards.

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MATTER OF THE HEART

Underlining the heart health risks to wearing tight clothing, Dr Vanita Arora, Senior Consultant, Cardiac Electrophysiologist and Interventional Cardiologist at Apollo Hospital, Delhi, says, “From a medical standpoint, you are effectively squeezing the organs inside the abdominal cavity. This may result in breathing difficulties, reduced lung capacity and poor circulation. With shallow breathing and reduced oxygen intake, it increases the risk of hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels). In turn, this may lead to a reduction in the amount of oxygen reaching essential organs, resulting in exhaustion, light-headedness and even fainting.”

She adds, “Long-term compression of the chest and abdomen can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders like heart attack, stroke and even heart failure caused by the body’s increased resistance to blood flow.”

The tight, laced-up corset restricts breathing and can bruise internal organs if worn for too long (Shutterstock)
The tight, laced-up corset restricts breathing and can bruise internal organs if worn for too long (Shutterstock)

 


DIGESTION DISRUPTION

Tight compression via corsets can affect digestion. Dr Sharad Malhotra, Senior Consultant and HOD, Gastroenterology Hepatology, Aakash Healthcare, New Delhi, explains, “A corset not only compresses the waist, but also enhances the upper part of the chest and the lower part of the waist. If the compression of the abdominal muscles is for a few minutes or an hour it may not end up causing any damage, but prolonged and daily wearing may cause suppression of blood flow to different organs of the stomach leading to indigestion and problems in the motility of the intestine.”

He adds, “Too much pressure on the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine can cause acid reflux, belching and bloating. It can also cause erosion and ulceration of the food pipe.”

 

LUNG TROUBLE

Wearing extremely tight clothes can impact the lungs in several ways. Dr Rahul Kendre, Lung Transplant Physician, DPU Super Specialty Hospital, Pimpri, Pune, outlines the issues:

Increased pressure: The tightness can exert pressure on the chest and abdomen, making it difficult for the diaphragm to move freely.

Risk of pneumonia: In extreme cases, tight clothes can compress the chest to the extent that it hinders the proper functioning of the lungs, increasing the risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia.

Long-term consequences: Continuously wearing tight garments over a long term can lead to chronic respiratory issues, such as decreased lung function, increased susceptibility to respiratory infections and disorders like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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