Stella Tennant’s Waist Is Cinched To 13 Inches On The Cover Of Italian Vogue

In Italian Vogue‘s September issue, Stella Tennant is photographed in an ode to Ethel Granger, the woman once in possession of the smallest waist on earth. In the cover picture, Tennant’s waist has been cinched to 13 inches.

So what to make of this? Is it an artful recreation of a very strange and haunting woman, or a reimagining of oppressive — and dangerous — social mores?

Ah, fashion…always giving us something to think about. The magazine hits newsstands today if you want to ponder it in more depth.

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    • angela

      is that even possible?

    • Eileen

      I don’t think it’s a reimagining of corsets – more like a picture of how ridiculous actual whalebone corsets (unlike the stylized ones that are still part of fashion and lingerie today) really were. Perhaps a reminder not to romanticize old-style “glamorous” fashion because if you look at the picture, she looks pretty awful – like there’s something seriously wrong with her.

      Perhaps (probably) I’m giving Italian Vogue too much credit (these are the slave earrings people, right?), but I like to believe that it’s commentary on the dangerous lengths to which women will go to achieve a standard of beauty that isn’t actually all that attractive.

    • Olivia

      It doesn’t seem much different than Victoria’s Secret photo-shopping 6 pack abs on to girls with double D cleavage; but in this case they can call it art.

    • AlexaFaie

      Yes this is possible, but to maintain a waist of this size you have to wear successively smaller and smaller corsets over a period of years. It is possible to reduce your waist rapidly for the purpose of a photo shoot but it will be uncomfortable as it doesn’t give your body time to adapt. On the other hand, if you reduce slowly and gradually, your body adapts and is perfectly comfortable.
      I myself wear custom made 18″ corsets. They are 6 inches smaller than my natural waist at the time of 24″, though I haven’t worn them fully shut yet (not for longer than a minute or two for the fun of it). I put on quite a bit of weight due to some medication I had to take and my waist is now 28″ (though I’m loosing the weight again now I’ve come off the meds) and yet I can still wear the corsets comfortably. In fact, I can still lace it fully shut in one go if I wanted to, but its not comfortable to do so so quickly. That means I could take 10 inches off my waist size in a few moments, enough for a photoshoot to take place. Add ten inches to 13″ and you’ve got a natural waist of 23″ so perfectly possible since Stella is very thin as it is.
      However, the waist would always look this tiny no matter its size as long as the proportions are right. So even a corset with a 24″ waist which is made for someone with a natural 34″ waist would look minuscule. Its all about perspective.

      And as for the comment on “actual whalebone corsets” the practice of tightlacing was actually far easier in corsets boned with steel as its stronger and more flexible (whalebone can be brittle as its made of dentine from baleen whale teeth – not actual bone – and snaps easily, when you read stories of women breaking bones in their corsets, its literally the corset bones they broke). Very few women ever tightlaced. The small waisted corsets still around in museums and other collections are often unworn and “new” with tags still attached – they were never actually bought or worn as so few women actually reached that size. Of all my friends who wear corsets, I wear the smallest size. One other wears 20″, a couple reduce to 22″ or 24″ and many more wear larger sizes. The majority of Victorian and Edwardian ladies reduced their waists by 2 to 4 inches. And they started younger whilst their bodies were still forming, so they started at a smaller size.

      Though it is perfectly possible and if done right, doesn’t have any health issues, I’m not personally keen on too radical a shape. Though for some reason I prefer Ethel Granger’s look over Cathie Jung’s, even though she was smaller by 2 inches.