Stay With Me: Your Waist Trainer Is Actually Kind of Empowering

All your favorite celebrities that you shame-follow on Instagram love a waist trainer, for reasons that are medically dubious but aesthetically sound. A waist trainer is basically a corset — a modern girdle that embodies the promise of a Coke bottle body, with very little work — and not necessarily the first thing you think of when you think of female empowerment.  But, as Raiwya Kameir at The FADER points out, the business of selling these things is brisk, affording an entrepreneurial minded woman the power to run her own shit.

Instagram as an underground retailer is nothing new, and it’s actually a pretty smart way to run a business. Social media is basically an advanced form of word-of-mouth. Using the power of Instagram to tap that market is simply being a smart businesswoman.

 Jamie Porter, who owns Waist Snatchers, a leading waist trainer retailer based in Biloxi, Mississippi, was in her first semester of nursing school when she began selling enough waist trainers to quit, thanks to successful social media promotion. Two years later, she has five employees and sells around 300 units a week, retaining approximately 80 percent of the $75 to $100 retail price of her products as profit. By relying on word-of-mouth and organic online chatter to grow her business, she doesn’t contend with much overhead, either.

The only tricky thing here is reconciling the fact that the empowerment comes with a hearty dose of objectification. Kameir writes that “they’ve brought more corporeal women into the spotlight, but ultimately they exist to enforce a beauty standard that is, by some measure, inherently exploitative and oppressive.” But, a lot of the women selling these things don’t see it that way.

Juju, the model and entrepreneur who is also known for being Cam’ron’s girlfriend, sells her own line of waist trainers through Waist Snatchers and agrees. “People are trying to make moves for themselves, so it’s only right that it’s by women for women,” she says.

That’s not a bad way to look at it, honestly. Waist trainers are the new Mary Kay and Tupperware parties. If they’re empowering women to take charge and get their money by themselves, then why waste the breath getting mad about it?