Eighty-year-old Cathie Jung finds herself in the Guinness Book of Records for a rather peculiar, if not disturbing, hobby. It all began when her love for Victorian clothes introduced her to the world of corsets. But it wasn’t until 1986 when Cathie, supported by her husband Bob, decided that she wanted to reduce the size of her waist – quite a strange direction to take.
After marrying in 1959, Cathie and Bob soon discovered that they both liked slim waists. However, they only found out that other people shared a similar interest after a trip to England in 1983, which encouraged them to take things a step further three years later. “We lived in a small community in the eastern United States where tightlacing and wasp waists were unknown. We always considered it too different before our trip. But we met a couple of people who were into tightlacing and looked like they were relatively normal otherwise – and that’s how it started.”
Her waist initially measured 26 inches. To shrink it, she began wearing corsets in the afternoons and a wide training belt at night. Corsets sit snuggly on the waist to gradually bring it in by a few inches — the figure they create depends on how tightly the laces are tied at the back.
Year by year, Cathie’s waist became smaller and smaller. Her husband Bob, a physician, checked to make sure that this process wasn’t doing any damage to her internal organs. According to Bob, the use of a corset “does maybe compromise your stomach and you don’t eat as much at one time. The organs don’t really shift any more than when a person is pregnant. They may be pushed to one side a bit, but nothing permanent.” He’s always been a big fan of his wife’s looks: “I like the appearance and I like the feel of a small waist. It’s always been more attractive.”
Cathie currently uses a corset 24 hours a day. Thirty-five years of wearing corsets have caused her waist shrink to just 15 inches! For her efforts, she received “the smallest waist of a living person” award. This lifestyle has left her body deformed, but in a way that makes Cathie and her husband happy. But not everyone is pleased by this practice; one of their daughters grew tired of Cathie’s eccentricities. “She was very opinionated about what I was wearing and what I looked like and would say ‘you’re not wearing this to MY school!’ and things like that,” said Cathie.
Her daughter isn’t her only problem, as everyday life can also be fairly tough at times. “Of course, it’s hard to get around and do a lot of normal things, like driving a car. I can’t see well or react well. Or you can only sit comfortably in certain chairs. And then there’s the social problem. Not everyone understands what we’re doing and thinks a small waist is beautiful. And it takes a lot of time. You know, dressing and undressing and taking care of my body. I have skin problems,” said Cathie.
Though many people find it difficult to understand Cathie and Bob’s passion, it’s what makes them happy. They’re very proud of her tiny waist, even if it does interfere with everyday life and mean that she has to spend two hours a day putting on a corset. In their world, the sacrifices are worth it.
You can watch the following video to find out more about Cathie’s very unique waist:
Cathie’s controversial appearance has got a lot of people talking. Is this kind of beauty ideal unhealthy and setting a bad example? Should we judge a couple and their lifestyle if it doesn’t affect others? They’re not easy questions to answer… What do you think?