Even if you get in the best shape of your life and lower your body fat level, it’s not possible to get a 17 inch waist. This is because the waist area consists of more than just muscles and fat—it houses some of your vital organs too.
As such, you can’t infinitely slim your waist without running into issues. Yet, this doesn’t stop an increasing number of women trying to sculpt a 17 in waist via tight-laced corseting.
You can read our main article to learn how to measure your waist size or keep reading for specific information on why getting a 17″ waist is an unrealistic goal.
How small is a 17 inch waist?
We recently examined some of the most recent US anthropometric data, which takes a variety of measurements from people of all ages. According to the data, not even a female 2-year-old has a 17 inch waist. This should confirm to you that a 17 in waist is absolutely tiny for an adult woman.
While not that common, many people, especially male weight lifters, have arms and calves that measure 17 inches. So given how much bigger a waist naturally is than your limbs, the only way that you could get a 17″ waist would be via aggressive waist training, which, as you’ll soon learn, comes with many downsides (and that’s putting it politely).
While some women dream of sculpting a 17 inch waistline so that they can have an hourglass figure, you don’t need to make your waist 17 inches to have an hourglass body type or to look beautiful.
And that’s not just my opinion; many men, for example, strongly prefer a woman with a 0.7 to 0.8 waist-to-hip ratio, which you certainly won’t have with a 17 inch stomach.
How about a 17.5 inch waist?
As you might have guessed, a 17.5 inch waist is virtually identical to a 17 inch waist. Of course, when you’re obsessed with your waist measurement, half an inch can make all the difference in your head.
However, in practice, your daily waist size can fluctuate based on how full your stomach is, whether or not you’re wearing a corset, and whether or not you’re on your period.
A 17.5 inch waist is nearly 3% bigger than a 17 inch waist but is still a completely unrealistic measurement for a healthy adult woman to achieve naturally.
Can you sculpt a 17 inch waist naturally?
Lowering your body fat percentage and firming up your abs can help to reduce your waist size and accentuate your waist-to-hip ratio. However, you simply can’t get a 17″ waist through diet and exercise alone.
Indeed, you could have a waistline that’s 10 inches bigger than our 17-inch example and still have a trim waist.
Using a very tight corset for prolonged periods of time is, of course, one way that some women aim to get a 17 in waist. However, there is little research on the health effects of waist training,  and there are certainly no good long-term studies that examine the growing waist-shrinking trend.
What are the downsides of having a 17″ waist?
In today’s world, many people are looking for quick fixes, and some are willing to try just about anything if it means getting the body of their dreams.
Unfortunately, corseting only makes your waist temporarily smaller (the devices don’t lower your body fat level or tone your abs). Your waistline is likely to go back to its natural size once you stop using your waist trainer, which is why so many women are reluctant to give them up.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery points out that waist trainers—which are the only way to get a 17 inch waist—can damage your vital organs, seriously harm your digestive system, and make breathing much more difficult. 
Does that sound worth it?
I don’t think so. You can have a slimmer waistline than 90% of other women (if that’s what you really desire) by exercising consistently and eating a healthy diet. Just don’t restrict your calories too much because sculpting toned abs actually necessitates adding lean muscle mass to your core.
Conclusion: Why would someone want a 17 in waist?
Corsets have been around for a long time. But it appears that an obsession with sculpting an impossibly small waistline has reached an all-time high in recent years.
While it’s fine to take inspiration from people online, you shouldn’t feel like you need to live up to unrealistic body and beauty standards.
Remember, some babies have a 17 inch waist—not healthy adults. So don’t risk your mental and physical health to get an unrealistic 17″ waist. It’s just not worth it when you can look great and feel better while having a larger waistline.
- Prigent, H., Roche, N., Laffont, I., Lejaille, M., Falaize, L., Barbot, F., & Lofaso, F. (2009). Relation between corset use and lung function postural variation in spinal cord injury. European Respiratory Journal, 35(5), 1126–1129. https://doi.org/10.1183/09031936.00034209
- American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. (2017, September 15). 4 Reasons to Throw Your Waist Trainer in the Trash. ABCS. https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/popular-posts/4-reasons-throw-waist-trainer-trash/