By Giacomo Brunelli @GiacomoBrunelli
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Videographer / director: Taylor Bluemel
Producer: Giacomo Brunelli, Ruby Coote
Editor: Pete Ansell
Sarah Vaeth, 43, of Portland, Oregon is a painter with a passion for extreme corseting.
Since 2014, Sarah has managed to reduce her waist size to 16 inches and now aims to match the world’s smallest waist, which currently measures at 15 inches.
Sarah wears a corset almost every day for 16 – 20 hours at a time.
Whereas getting down to 18 inches was smooth for Sarah, going from 18 to 16 was much harder for her.
Sarah told Barcroft TV: “It’s harder physically and it's slower, like the tighter you get, each little tiny increment takes longer.”
The mother’s interest in corseting started when Sarah wanted to improve her posture, as she found herself to be slouching after sitting down all day painting.
Sarah explained: “I got a little bit of a hunch just from kind of bad work habits over the years, and I stumbled on corsets online.”
Not long after discovering the potential for corsets to improve posture, Sarah bought a corset online.
Sarah said: “I became intrigued and started looking at more and bought one and then got hooked – I realised as soon as I tried one on for the first time.
“Once I started getting really interested in corsets, I looked at a lot of historical examples and just got really fascinated with how the styles changed over time.”
Sarah now owns many corsets and has up to now spent thousands of dollars on her hobby: “Although I try to find good deals, I still spend too much money on corsets.”
After the birth of her daughter a few years ago, Sarah had to take a break from corseting while pregnant but has started again since giving birth.
Sarah explained: “I’ve been corseting since 2012 but I had to quit for a while when I got pregnant with my daughter, so I started up again after she was born in late 2014.”
Sarah does acknowledge that her corseting has become extreme. She said: “Even in the corseting community I’m kind of a little bit on the far end of what’s typically normal.”
When asked about the potential damage that the extreme corseting might be causing she explained why Sarah is not concerned.
“I just don’t think there’s any evidence that that can happen, the current living record holder is Cathy Jung and she is in her mid-80s now, so I’m not concerned.”
Once the mother matches the world record, she might even be tempted to break it too.
Sarah said: “It’s not about the aesthetics anymore, it’s about the challenge – I want to make sure this is really going to happen, it’d be just historically really cool.”
Sarah’s husband Ron isn’t concerned about the health complications either and fully trusts his wife: “She’s always careful to know what her boundaries are, she would not do anything to hurt herself.”
He is also not surprised that she wants break the record, as he believes Sarah conceals a competitive nature.
Ron said: “That is very typical, that she wants to break the record, it’s just totally what I would expect from her, it’s part of her competitive nature.”
Although Ron does see himself in a situation in which he might have to tell Sarah to slow down with the corseting, he also fully trusts her judgement.
The one thing that bothers her husband is the judgement that Sarah has to face both in real life and in the online world.
He said: “When other people are judgmental, I get a little bit defensive, its natural.”
Sarah has built a support network of friends in the field of corseting and Ron really appreciates the community as well.
She said: “I think that’s been the best thing about this – really wonderful, open minded, very cool people that are out there doing this stuff.”