Thanks in no small part to the Kardashian-Jenner crew, waist trainers have become ubiquitous on social media. They're a plague upon our Instagram feeds, scattered between our calorific brunch photos, reminding us what those meals will require afterward. The waist-tightening corsets look uncomfortable and dangerous; they also happen to make us feel fairly shitty about our own waists.
Now, someone's finally called bullshit on waist trainers. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an independent watchdog group in the U.K., has ruled that an ad for the Velform Mini Waist, which airs on TV shopping networks, is forbidden because it "encouraged unhealthy body perceptions and was therefore irresponsible."
The commercial includes lines like "Have you ever wondered how celebrities get those tiny little waists they flaunt on the red carpet?" and "the secret to getting that sexy tiny waist, so small that you'll be everyone's envy."
Interestingly, the ban — which doesn't banish or even fine the company, but simply rules that "the ad must not appear again in its current form" — does not condemn the ad for making misleading or unproven medical claims, even though the effectiveness and safety of waist trainers has repeatedly been called into question.
Instead, the ASA's ruling called out the psychological impact of extolling the virtues of tiny waists. The TV viewer who brought the complaint said the commercial "encouraged unhealthy body perceptions," which the ASA agreed with.
"We considered it was irresponsible to imply that a very small waist should be aspired to and that all women should aim for that figure," the agency wrote in the ruling, which could indeed lead to "unhealthy body perceptions."
To which most women probably replied: Well, duh.
Like the "detox teas" encouraging flat abs and the countless other #fitspo images crowding our social media feeds, waist trainers reinforce some of the most entrenched female beauty standards — thinner is better, curvy is only good in the right places — and, in a double whammy, offer up a misleading tool to meet such standards.
The companies barely have to advertise on TV for us to get the message, given how much stars like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner (yes, even Kylie) show them off on social media. But showing off one's body transformation, while honest, clearly sends the message: Since you can make yourself look different — aka thinner — you probably should.
Which, bullshit. And thank you to the ASA for saying so.