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I tried on a Kim Kardashian-style corset after she caused a stir on the red carpet at the Met Gala with a tiny waist — and I barely moved all day


It’s when I shout in a wavering voice, «I think that’s enough!» that I fear for my lower right rib. I’m encased in a corset that laces up tightly and nearly yanks my legs off every time it’s pulled. I hold on to the quad roof rack just to stay upright.

It’s a scene reminiscent of Gone With the Wind when Scarlett O’Hara is instructed, ‘Just hold on and suck!’ as she clings to the bedpost trying to stay steady as Mammy laces her up before the picnic.

But why do I stick to four by four? Well, I’ve just arrived in London’s Notting Hill to test out this waist corset. And it restricts my movement to the point that I couldn’t put it on on the way here because I literally couldn’t sit in it.

Now I’m wearing it and the pressure on one of my ribs is so intense I’m worried it might crack. I blurt out in a panic, “Release it! Release it! I’ll probably crack a rib!’

Obviously, I’m not as big a trooper as reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian, who managed to stay composed despite her corset being so tight she could barely breathe.

Samantha Rea braved a Kim Kardashian-style corset to strut her stuff on the streets of London

It happened just a few days ago at the Met Gala, an annual event in New York where celebrities compete to outdo each other on the red carpet.

Video footage of Kim K at the event appears to show her slightly gasping for breath, as if the corset has compressed her lungs so much that there is almost no room for oxygen.

Since breathing is pretty much essential to staying alive, Kim K has made headlines for prioritizing fashion over her ability to breathe, a move many have deemed «dangerous.»

With a waist that looked so slim it was said to be just 19 inches, there was speculation that Kim K had part of her rib cage removed, while others wondered where she was hiding her guts now.

Experts have shared warnings about the health risks associated with wearing such a crushing corset, suggesting it could cause digestive problems, rib deformities and damage to internal organs, as well as restricted breathing.

The brave journalist donned the outfit after Kim Kardashian shocked fans in her corset

The brave journalist donned the outfit after Kim Kardashian shocked fans in her corset

Kim's outfit featured metallic chain leaves and a corset so tight it made her eyes water as she arrived at the Met Gala.

Kim’s outfit featured metallic chain leaves and a corset so tight it made her eyes water as she arrived at the Met Gala.

And then, of course, there were concerns about the beauty standards he set for young girls, with glamor model-turned-reality star Nicola McLean calling it irresponsible.

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But scares aside, I think Kim K looked AMAAAAAAAAAAAAZAZING!! And really, a 19-inch waist isn’t that small.

When Posh Spice married David Beckham in 1999, she apparently had an 18-inch waist, thanks to a corset hidden under her Vera Wang wedding dress.

Burlesque star Dita Von Teese is said to have a 16.5 inch waist when strapped into a corset, and Kylie Minogue was rumored to have shrunk her waist down to just 16 inches on her 2005 Showgirl tour.

Is it true? Who knows! But they all look fabulous, so I wonder what a corset could do for me.

Victoria Beckham, Dita Von Teese and Kylie all seem to have been helped by internationally renowned corsetiere Mr Pearl – who has also worked with Kim K and the Bridgerton cast.

Samantha Rea in a corset
Samantha Rea in a corset

The journalist chose an underbust corset that covered the torso of her body

Unfortunately I can’t afford Mr Pearl’s celebrity fees so I’m heading to Camden, North London in search of an affordable corset that will make me look like Kim K.

After walking through the maze of Stables Market, past leather belts and 1950s dresses, I find a range of corsets at a shop called Tainted Prince. «Over the bust or under the bust?» asks the female store manager.

Embarrassed, I look down at my dirty trainers, thinking he’s checking how close I am to financial ruin before deciding whether to help me. But that’s okay! It turns out that «over the bust» means that the corset covers your breasts, while «under the bust» means that it stops just below them.

With «under bust» selected, we look at my options and I explain that I want a corset that I can pull really tight to make my waist look super cinched like Kim Kardashian.

And so I’m laced into a chunky black corset – as I hold on to clothes rods to keep myself on my feet. My ribcage can’t compete. It adjusts to the corset and as it gets smaller and smaller I remember a drawing I saw on the internet of what your insides look like with a corset on.

They are actually two drawings next to each other. The first shows what your insides look like when you’re not wearing a corset, with everything where it should be. Then the second drawing shows your guts and internal organs all squashed and distorted and pushed out of place.

I try not to think about it and instead focus on the beautiful image of the hourglass in the mirror in front of me. Sold!

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I plan to wear the corset this afternoon and I suspect it would be easier if I skipped lunch. Only I never skip lunch. I never miss a meal. I can’t even think of the popular concept of ‘brunch’ because you either miss breakfast or you miss lunch – and why would anyone miss the opportunity to eat?

So I don’t skip lunch and my generous portion means I eat it from an oversized baking dish as usual, but unfortunately I don’t have time to sit still for an hour like I like to do.

Instead, I head straight outside, in a mild state of anxiety as to where my lunch will be when I’m laced up in a corset.

Samantha revealed that she struggled to stay upright when the corset was tightened

Samantha revealed that she struggled to stay upright when the corset was tightened

One factor Samantha didn't consider was the heat as she strapped herself into a tight corset in the high temperatures.

One factor Samantha didn’t consider was the heat as she strapped herself into a tight corset in the high temperatures.

It’s a hot day and I don’t need an extra layer around my belly, but that’s the least of my worries because right now I’m honestly afraid my lunch will fly out of my body. Because what happens is that if you squeeze things too hard – the contents shoot out.

Think tortilla wrap. Squeeze it too hard and all the chicken and guacamole will spill out from both ends. And I’m pretty sure I know which end my lunch will crack.

But that’s okay because I look fabulous. I think, I think so. I can’t actually reach the mirror or reach for what’s in my bag because my movement is so limited. I can’t walk in heels at the best of times, so combining them with a corset that I can’t bend or breathe in means I’m just stuck here on the sidewalk. Like a beached whale, but with a smaller waist.

I imagined myself sipping a martini on a terrace in Notting Hill with an atmosphere like Dita Von Teese – just holding the martini glass instead of splashing around in it and doing a burlesque routine.

Trouble is, I can’t make it to the bar. And even if I was carried into one, in a fireman’s lift over the shoulder (yes, please!), I wouldn’t have a chance to sit there. And I’m definitely not standing in heels.

Samantha found that her movement was severely restricted while wearing the corset

Samantha found that her movement was severely restricted while wearing the corset

After asking other people online what they thought of corsets, most people agreed that it was very uncomfortable

After asking other people online what they thought of corsets, most people agreed that it was very uncomfortable

So my plans are somewhat foiled and I’m happy too. I’d like a drink of water, except I’m not sure there’s anywhere to go. How did Scarlett O’Hara deal with dicks at her picnic?

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It’s possible that I don’t even look as fabulous as I’d hoped, because when I send a photo to my boyfriend, all he sends back are big crying and laughing emojis. So not only is it embarrassing, but it’s all for naught because I look ridiculous. Maybe I’m less Kim K and more Sam Smith.

Feeling pretty exhausted, I ask on Facebook, “Corsets! Thumbs up or thumbs down?” My friend Jo says she has a corset that was custom made for her: “It’s gorgeous! But I can’t wear it anymore because I live alone and you need to hold your breasts in place, get someone to strap you in, put a leg on your back and pull the strings tight – an absolutely impossible feat in itself!!»

That’s right—corsets are not a one-woman job. I ask Jo if she’s ever suffered a crushed rib or respiratory failure while wearing a corset. She says: ‘No injuries but I always made sure I didn’t eat that night because it would be uncomfortable.’

Louise says: “Don’t get me wrong… I need to top up my Ramipril just thinking about Dita Von Teese in a glass of champagne and a black corset. However, a device that has the ability to move internal organs should be consigned to the past.”

I have to google ‘Ramipril’ and it turns out it’s a high blood pressure drug. I’m glad to hear that despite the concerns about internal organs, corsets are still considered hot (just not on me, apparently).

Twitter seems to echo these mixed feelings when I post a poll that returns these results:

I just spent the afternoon in a corset. Is your first thought:

Are your ribs okay? 13 %

Internal organs f****d? 3%

could you breathe 31%

Where are the pictures? 53%

Despite the unpleasant afternoon, I still think Kim K looked fabulous at the Met Gala and I still love Dita Von Teese’s old fashioned glamour. Who doesn’t feel better when they put effort into their appearance? And frankly, I wouldn’t even enjoy a martini in jogging pants – dressing up is part of the fun.

It occurs to me that if wearing an item of clothing restricts your movement and your ability to eat, and means you can’t even dress yourself, then maybe it’s not very empowering. But then maybe I just need employees because I swear my life would be so much easier if I had people to do things for me. So I’ll definitely be wearing my corset again – but maybe next time I’ll keep it a little looser!



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