There are a ton of myths surrounding shapewear – some of which are positive, but most are negative. Fortunately, most women do their research when they’re thinking about wearing shapewear for the first time to find out if any concerning myths are true.
So – congrats! You’ve made it into the ranks of smart, discerning women who are willing to forget what Sarah at work told them (sorry Sarahs!) and find out exactly why it is that – if shapewear is such a bad thing – it is a staple of celebrity closets all over the world.
Today we’ll debunk some of the most common shapewear myths we’ve heard, and tell you if there’s any truth to them. Read on to find out!
Myth #1: Shapewear, Corsets, and Waist Trainers are All the Same Thing
The first myth we’ll tackle is the idea that shapewear, corsets, and waist trainers are all the same thing. This isn’t the case. While most waist trainers can certainly be found in the same category as shapewear, corsets can’t.
Corsets are stiff, contain steel bones, and are laced up so they can be pulled as tight as possible. Of course, we’ve all heard about the health difficulties some women had in the 18th century because wearing corsets was the fashion. Corsets were and are for body modification – they force the body to fit into the space they provide.
Waist trainers are different. Waist trainers nowadays are made from soft, flexible materials like latex and neoprene, and if they have bones they are also flexible. Most waist trainers on the market are designed to hold you in all the right places, wear all day, and even work out in.
Shapewear is a more general term for all the different types of undergarments you can wear to help smooth lumps and bumps. We all – no matter how skinny or fit – have put on a dress or pair of jeans and found that we have an unflattering love handle somewhere we wouldn’t have in any other item of clothing. It happens! Shapewear is there to help you wear outfits that are form-fitting or give you a bump you aren’t happy with.
Myth #2: Shapewear Harms and Shifts Your Organs
To build on our last myth, it’s also a myth that shapewear will harm and shift your organs – only corsets can do that if you push it to the most extreme, it can’t happen by accident!
If you’ve ever seen a corset in real life, you’ll see that they can’t be folded away, they are extremely stiff and force your body to fit into the space it provides. That’s why high society women in history had so much trouble breathing; there simply wasn’t any space for the diaphragm to expand to draw breath. Even the most high-compression shapewear and waist trainer can’t have that effect.
Myth #3: You Should Size Down for Better Results
Nope! This is a seriously common myth and one we do our best to dissuade. Sizing down in your shapewear won’t necessarily make you look smaller, and even if it does make the area you want look smaller, you’ll likely find that it creates lumps and bumps at the edges where it’s too tight for you – which completely defeats the purpose of wearing shapewear in the first place!
You should always wear shapewear that is the right size for you (if you need help, we’re only an email away and will make sure you get your ideal size) so it can smooth every inch of you it touches. Shapewear is designed to slim and smooth what you’ve got, but if you size down too much it won’t be able to do that effectively.
In regards to waist trainers, where the goal is to size down, you need to start with a size that feels comfortable and just a little compressive, and when you’re ready, move in a hook-size to waist-train at a smaller size or size down to a new trainer. Waist training is just that, training, it’s teaching you and your waist to tone and slim. (Find out more about waist training here.)
If you wear a waist trainer or shapewear that’s too small, you’ll likely be uncomfortable and eventually stop wearing it. Shapewear and waist trainers are designed to be comfortable and invisible for hours, so make sure you get the size that makes that possible.
Myth #4: You Can’t Wear Compression Shapewear Daily
You can, and, if you want to, you should! As we discussed above, if you’re wearing the correct size your shapewear should feel almost invisible. Shapewear is not harmful, it’s really no different to wearing a pair of compression workout leggings (which people happily wear all day long, right?), and it can even help mold your body over time.
Let’s be real: you wear shapewear to feel good about yourself – and if you feel fabulous when you’ve got the support of your shapewear, why shouldn’t you wear it all day long? It’s not harmful (we debunked that myth already) and if you’re wearing a waist trainer it’s actually recommended you wear it on a daily basis for up to 12 hours at a time.
You don’t have to reserve your shapewear for special occasions – as women, we have a tendency to put away the things that make us feel our best just for “special occasions” and stick with feeling slightly less than amazing the rest of the time. You don’t need to do that with your shapewear. You have our permission to feel your best all the time.
Myth #5: Shapewear is Uncomfortable
At this point, you should read this myth and roll your eyes – we know this isn’t true. Yet, it’s a pervasive thought that circulates, so it is worth addressing.
If your shapewear isn’t comfortable, there’s something wrong with it. Not you – the shapewear. It’s either too small, too big, or cost you $5 and the quality just isn’t there. Sorry, but while shapewear is affordable, good shapewear that will fit you like a glove and feel amazing cannot be found on the online equivalent of the dollar store.
If the materials it is made out of are itchy, constantly rolls up or down, is see-through like hosiery (compression shapewear can’t be that thin), it’s likely made out of something cheap. If your shapewear isn’t hugging you, if you still have rolls or bumps in places you don’t want them, or if it doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything at all, it’s either made of subpar materials or it’s the wrong size.
Myth #6: Compression Shapewear is Only for People Who’ve Had a Baby or Operation
Again, not the case. Compression wear is for everyone, and it’s up to you to decide whether you enjoy the feel of high-compression shapewear or if you prefer something with lighter support. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the look and feel of the bodysuits that give you all-over high compression support.
When it comes to shapewear, it really is you-do-you, and if that means rocking compression shapewear on the daily, go for it.
Myth #7: Shapewear is Only For Special Events
Nope! Shapewear is for every day if you want it to be. Truth is, there are waist trainers and shapewear garments for any woman and any activity. You don’t have to be stepping out on the red carpet or heading off to a wedding to wear your shapewear.
Going to work and want to feel powerful? Sure, wear your shapewear. Got a date? Put it on if you want to. Headed out to the supermarket? If you want to wear it, do it. There’s nothing stopping you! There are even waist trainers designed to be worked out in, so you can wear shapewear as much or as little as you like. You don’t need to feel guilty about it or agonize over whether this is the right occasion.
Do you pause to worry about whether or not you're wearing the right underwear or top that day? Probably not, so don’t worry about wearing shapewear, either.
Myth #8: Shapewear is Only for “Plus-Size” People
Okay, first of all, we don’t use that kind of negative language here, but this is a myth we hear a lot. This is a myth that can be debunked quickly with a simple search of Google for celebrities in shapewear. You’ll see flashes of skin-toned compression wear all over red carpet events, and elsewhere – including the likes of Beyoncé and J-Lo. I don’t know about you, but if I can look as half as good as J-Lo (with her six-pack!) I’ll feel pretty damn good about myself, and if she’s going to put on her shapewear when she feels like she wants the extra support, so will I – no matter my size.
The truth is, the effectiveness of shapewear doesn’t rely on whether you’re “thin” or not, it smooths, supports, and lets you know that even if you slump down in a chair, you’ll still look fabulous. Here’s a fact: even muscles jiggle, and even supermodels get cellulite. You can be any size and wear shapewear, period.
Myth #9: Shapewear Makes You Lose Weight
This myth is a little trickier because while that statement is a myth, it’s also often true. Let me explain.
Shapewear, on its own, will not help you lose weight. A religious use your waist trainer will help you lose an inch or so from your waist, but that’s not from weight loss. However, most people find that wearing their shapewear encourages them to eat better, eat a little less, and be more active. That’s where there the weight loss comes from.
So, if you’re making some lifestyle choices or want some extra encouragement to make healthy choices and leave the house a little more often (because someone has to see how great you look!), wearing shapewear often helps. It’s also nice to see and visualize what you may look like further down your weight loss journey if you choose to continue.
Of course, I should mention that using a waist trainer that’s suitable for working out in will help you work up a sweat, which will help you burn more calories, and lose water weight which will count as weight loss, if only temporarily. So, while no waist trainer or shapewear will act as a magic pill for weight loss, it can certainly help you shed the pounds faster than you would without it.
Myth #10: It’s Bad to Wear Shapewear Because It Makes You Look Like Something You’re Not
Another way this myth is sometimes phrased is as “shapewear shows you are embarrassed and unhappy with your body”. These two myths are toxic and need to disappear.
Why? Because they’re both false and extremely negative. The latter is essentially a passive-aggressive way of arguing that you’re only wearing shapewear because you’re overweight or unfit, which, again, I’d like to see someone tell Beyoncé or J-Lo that.
The former is the same argument people have made about push-up bras in the past, and is extremely harmful, because it implies that women only look good to attract men, or that it’s somehow “bad” to look good if you’ve really got a bit extra that jiggles (like everyone else on this planet!).
Have you ever heard someone use the term “false advertising” when talking about someone using a push-up bra, wearing makeup, or otherwise altering their appearance? Most of us have, and this myth perpetuates this same harmful idea. We want to look good – and we can do that whether or not we want to attract a partner, whether we’re happily single, married, or literally any other state of being that does not rely on our relationship status.
There is enough in the world that’s ready to put you down; if you want to wear shapewear, do it. Do what makes you feel good, powerful, and attractive.
So, go out there and rock your shapewear, knowing all these myths are untrue – and spread the word! Let us know in the comments below what myths you’ve heard perpetuated and what occasions and locations you’re rocking your shapewear at.
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