September 9, 2013
Manteo woman with the smallest
waist in the world visits Ocracoke
By CONNIE LEINBACH
Jung never expected to hold the Guinness Book of World Records
distinction for smallest waist when she began wearing a corset 54 years
Jung and her husband, Robert, of Manteo, were in Ocracoke
recently for a visit. Cathie, 76, was fine with people at
SmacNally’s talking to her about her tiny waist—a size Scarlett O’Hara
would envy. Measured by the inside of the corset, it is 15
inches, which is a Guinness record she has held since 2002.
You can find Cathie, “the Corset Queen,” on the Guinness website under Human Body/Smallest waist on a living person.
She wears a corset of some kind 24 hours a day, except for when she bathes.
more comfortable wearing it,” Cathie said about the attire she began
donning in earnest 30 years ago when she began to wear it full-time in
order to trim her waist with what is called “tight lacing,” from 26
inches when she was married to her current 15 inches. Measured
around the outside of the corset while worn, her waist is 18 inches,
and uncorseted, her waist is 21 inches.
It’s all about the Victorian image, Cathie said about her unusual interest.
been interested in Victorian costuming forever,” she said while she and
Bob, a retired orthopedic surgeon, had a drink at the waterfront bar.
“You need to have the right shape for the clothes.”
She and Bob wore Victorian clothing—and corsets--at their wedding in 1959 and donned the attire at special events after that.
“It helped my back when I wore it,” Bob said. In fact, according to the National Geographic video on Cathie’s website -- www.cathiejung.com -- corsets were invented to help support backs.
Cathie wore a corset only occasionally during her child-rearing years,
the image is one the two have been fascinated with for decades, not to
mention the slimming effects such garments have on an aging figure.
interested in the elegance of the image,” she said. That interest
led them to others from all over the world with the same interest, who
gathered yearly in Europe. A final event of this group, then
200-strong, in Dusseldorf, Germany, attracted the local press and
television. Guinness saw those photos and approached the Jungs.
initially said no because there are a lot of far-out things in that
book,” Bob said. “We didn’t want to be aligned with weird stuff.”
after Guinness persisted, the couple agreed, but on their terms, and
now the couple travels all over the world at least once a year for
appearances on behalf of Guinness.
The Japanese were very interested in making sure Cathie had no surgery to achieve her tiny waist.
took X-rays and CAT scans,” said Bob, who noted that his wife has not
had ribs removed or anything like that. “That is not true,” he said
about the myth of women removing ribs to have smaller waists.
her smallest-in-the-world waistline is something she had to do over
many years of training her body. Bob made a plaster cast of
her body, then a dress form made out of foam with which the best corset
makers in Europe crafted the more than 100 corsets she owns. One
of them, as shown on Cathie’s business card, is an outer-wear corset of
She has gotten used to modifying her actions
while wearing the corset. “No one sits for a long time in a
corset,” she said. A recliner is preferred over a chair that causes one
to bend in the middle. While she doesn’t restrict what she eats,
she eats small portions, sharing plates with Bob.
“I’m average height,” she said, noting she is 5 feet 6 inches, and her weight varies between 130 and 140 pounds.
as a fashion item these days are mostly worn over clothing, Bob
noted. “Interest in corsets has never disappeared completely,” he
said. They are often seen in high fashion as overlays.
website includes Cathie’s story, photos, the history of corsets, and
videos of her appearances with such television personalities as Tyra
Banks. It includes a National Geographic film of Cathie and the
pros and cons of corset-wearing.