This Woman Is Going for a 15-Inch Waist

by Nathalie O'Neill

What would you do for a 16-inch waist? (Actually, you'll probably answer "nothing," and that's the right answer. But go with me here.) To put that in perspective, 16 inches is only slightly bigger than the size of a rolled-up yoga mat. Well, 24-year-old Berliner Michele Kobke has found a way. Kobke has been wearing a corset for three years and counting, and hopes to slim her waist down to a mind-numbing 15 inches. Kobke started with a 25-inch waist, dropping 9 inches by wearing her corset non-stop, she explained to the New York Daily News . She wears her corset sleeping, swimming, and eating. Were Kobke to reach the 15-inch mark, she would be breaking the world record, currently held by Connecticut woman Cathie Jung. Goals. Need a corset primer? Allow me: While most of our ribs are connected to our sternum, we have four ‘floating ribs’ that are only connected to the vertebrae. With training, these floating ribs can shift inwards, making for a smaller waist. Kobke is not the only one turning to the Victorian shapewear. Jessica Alba told Net-A-Porter she wore a corset 24/7 for three months following her pregnancy to help her get back to her pre-baby weight. The trend is commonly referred to as tightlacing, and attracts a significant online community who want to attain a nature-defying figure. Just search #tightlacing and you’ll come up with a myriad of results:

There’s a reason the corseted body looks so bizarre. Like high heels or pierced ears, tightlacing contorts and modifies the body in an unnatural way that comes with health risks. Kobke herself has been diagnosed with muscle atrophy yet continues to tightlace. Non-stop corset-wearing can also damage the internal organs it displaces. Kobke responded to such claims on German TV station RTL, arguing that “smoking and drinking are actually much worse for you, so corsets may not be healthy, but also not really unhealthy.” It's hard to believe Kobke when her YouTube videos show the effects of tightlacing on her body–she needs to stop for breath mid-sentence and the skin beneath her corsets is marked with welts. And there's no point trying to tell these body dysmorphic girls to have a burger–corsets constrain the stomach so only tiny meals can be eaten.

Image: Fotolia