Health risks of corsets as Kim Kardashian looks ‘unable to breathe’ at Met Gala

Kim Kardashian pictured arriving at the Met Gala in a corset gown. (Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian wore a corset ensemble for her appearance at the 2024 Met Gala. (Getty Images) (ANGELA WEISS via Getty Images)

Kim Kardashian caused a stir online after last night's Met Gala, with fans expressing some concern about the extreme corset she was wearing to the high profile event.

The reality TV star returned to the red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday in the ensemble, which once again highlighted her love for a waist-cynching corset.

Kardashian channelled the night's theme, Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion, with a custom floral John Galliano creation.

The ensemble featured a couture corset rewoven from an antique silver brocade, which Kardashian wore with a grey cashmere cardigan/jumper hung loosely over her shoulders.

But it was the dramatic corset that drew comments on social media.

“How is Kim Kardashian breathing?” one user asked on X. “Her waist looks so small in that omg.”

Another user questioned whether the garment was in fact impacting her breathing.

"Kim Kardashian is having difficulty breathing because of how narrow they made the waist. Wtf?" another fan wrote.

"No but seriously how many ribs and other vital organs did Kim Kardashian have removed to achieve a waist like this?" another user posed.

Kim Kardashian attends The 2024 Met Gala. (Aliah Anderson/Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian's outfit caused some concern online. (Aliah Anderson/Getty Images) (Aliah Anderson via Getty Images)

It isn't the first time concerns have been raised about the wearing of corsets. Bridgerton star Simone Ashley told Glamour UK that she was in “a lot of pain” while wearing her corset on set, and revealed she "tore" her shoulder while wearing the garment.

Lily James, who wore a corset for Cinderella, told E! News she was unable to digest food properly while wearing her costume.

And Cara Delevingne, who had to wear a corset for her role in Carnival Row, wasn't a huge fan and revealed to Net-A-Porter, it makes you "lose your voice".

Dr Elise Dallas, women’s health GP at The London General Practice says the health impacts of corset wearing can vary depending on factors such as the tightness of the corset, individual body composition, and duration of wear.

While wearing a corset for a short period, such as a couple of hours, may not cause significant harm for some individuals, prolonged or extreme use can lead to serious health issues over time.

"Though corsets are primarily worn for aesthetic purposes, some claim potential benefits such as improved posture and a more defined waistline," explains Dr Chun Tang, GP and medical director at at Pall Mall Medical.

“But these benefits may be outweighed by the potential health risks associated with prolonged and extreme corseting.

“It's essential to weigh the potential benefits against the known health risks and consider alternative methods for achieving similar aesthetic goals without compromising health, comfort and possible long-term damage,” he adds.

Shuji Kobayashi via Getty Images

Potential health risks include:

Breathing difficulties

Dr Dallas says particularly tight corsets can restrict the movement of the diaphragm, making it difficult to take deep breaths. "This can lead to shallow breathing and reduced lung capacity over time," she adds.

Digestive issues

Wearing a corset can put pressure on the stomach and intestines, leading to discomfort, acid reflux, and even constipation. "The compression of the abdomen can interfere with the natural digestive process," Dr Dallas adds.

Organ compression

The tightness of a corset can compress organs such as the liver, kidneys, and intestines. "Prolonged compression can potentially impair organ function and cause discomfort," Dr Dallas adds.

Muscle weakness and atrophy

Wearing a corset for extended periods can cause the muscles of the waist and abdomen to become reliant on external support. "This can lead to muscle weakness and atrophy, as the muscles are not being engaged and strengthened naturally," Dr Dallas adds.

Rib cage deformation

Continuous pressure from a corset can reshape the rib cage, causing it to constrict and potentially interfere with lung expansion. "This can lead to long-term respiratory issues," Dr Dallas warns.

Movement restriction

Extreme tightness of corsets restricts day-to-day movement, which leads to decreased mobility and flexibility.

"Over time, this can lead to joint stiffness and discomfort," Dr Tang adds.

“Continuous pressure from tight corsets can also squeeze the nerves, leading to numbness, tingling, or even nerve damage in the waist and abdomen area."

Blood flow restriction

Tight corsets can restrict blood flow, leading to poor circulation. "This can result in symptoms such as cold hands and feet, numbness, and swelling," Dr Tang explains.

Skin irritation

Constant pressure and friction from tight corsets can cause skin irritation, bruising, and even sores. "Prolonged wear may lead to skin damage and increased risk of infection," Dr Tang adds.