There are two main ways this is used:
- The humor comes from the character trying to cram themselves into something that is clearly far too small and constricting for them. Bonus points if they manage it, but the end result makes their figure look absurd.
- A character we previously thought was in shape suffers a mishap which reveals their humiliating secret. This is popular in cartoons, as it's easy to suddenly add extra weight to a character once their corset has been removed.
Always Played for Laughs, but if the corset wearer is attractive it can loop back around to Fanservice. Similarly, if the owner of the corset is not attractive or very overweight it can become Fan Disservice.
Unlike Of Corsets Sexy, this trope is fairly unisex, probably because the idea of a male wearing a girdle is funnier, and more indicative that the wearer is vain, pathetic and ridiculous. The exposure of a girdle is often used as part of a Humiliation Conga, especially if the character is unsympathetic. Most likely to happen to a Fat Bastard, a Narcissist, a Small Name, Big Ego, The Prima Donna, an Alpha Bitch and a Nice Character, Mean Actor. If the character is sympathetic, it's often a device to show the character as insecure while picking up a cheap laugh along the way.
- Murder Princess Combines it with Of Corset Hurts as Alita is forced to wear a corset.
- Black Butler combines this with Of Corset Hurts and Of Corsets Sexy with the infamous corset scene. This is only made funnier by Sebastian's comment at the end.
- Towards the end of his weight problem Character Arc, Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle, was asked by General Glory if he was wearing a girdle under his costume. He insisted he wasn't—he was wearing control-top tights. Glory assured him it was nothing to be ashamed of, and claimed this was why Dr Fate's costume had such a high waistband.
Film - Animated
- Happens to Shrek and Fiona at the very beginning of Shrek the Third.
- C. Bagley Beetle attempts to lace himself into a corset for his wedding day in Mr. Bug Goes to Town, with disastrous results.
Film - Live Action
- One of the earliest examples in film: Airy Fairy Lilian Tries On Her New Corsets.
- The Carry On films of the 50s and 60s LOVED this trope, and it's unusual to find a film in the series that doesn't include a few jokes about some of the more ample cast members struggling with their corsetry.
- The Clingy Jealous Girl / Rich Bitch from The Malibu Bikini Shop gets her just desserts after her dress gets ripped off in front of the bikini babes she's been plotting against, exposing her dark secret—a long leg panty girdle.
- One of the many unsettling scenes in the film version of The Cat in the Hat includes the well-groomed, suave Alec Baldwin locking himself in the privacy of his house, removing the girdle he wears under his shirt and unleashing a massive beer belly.
- Bridget Jones squeezes herself into a panty girdle to look slim in her slinky black dress—she only remembers she has it on when her office crush is undressing her. He has a chuckle at her expense.
- The joke is repeated several times in the sequel. Bridget's big support knickers are her Iconic Item.
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World—Ethel Merman's character takes a few undignified pratfalls, exposing her foundation garments.
- This was a Justified Trope in 1963 when it was considered proper for women and girls in First World societies to wear foundation garments, no matter their weight or build.
- In Lethal Weapon 3, Riggs catches Murtaugh wearing a girdle under his bulletproof vest so that he can fit into his old uniform when they get busted to patrol. Naturally, Riggs gives him a bit of a hard time about it.
- The Hunger Games: The proper Effie is known to conform to the rules of society and thus expresses disapproval when Katniss shows her annoyance with the Capitol for ignoring her by shooting an arrow through the apple in the mouth of a pig for their feast. Haymitch congratulates her on her spirit and jokes that Effie should loosen her corset, and just have fun.
- In Father of the Bride, Stanley, the father, desperately tries to fit into his old tuxedo. He just barely manages it, although Ellie observes that the button will put someone's eye out if it comes loose. Then when he's trying to open a window his tuxedo coat splits down the middle.
- In The Winter Queen, Fandorin encounters an ad for male corsets, with a lot of bizarre snake-oil claims about improving health. He buys one, and closer to the end of the novel it does save his health by working like an armor vest. Then his boss considers making these corsets standard issue.
- On an early episode of The Muppet Show, hairdresser Gilda is trying to make herself look younger, and resorts to wearing "very tight foundation garments." In the middle of her conversation with Kermit, her girdle explodes.
- Another episode revealed Link Hogthrob wears a girdle.
- CSI had an episode with a dead Civil War re-enactor who wore one, apparently well-born men wore them back then just like women, and though it wasn't meant solely for humor,they did get a lot of funny out of it. Grissom's Quip to Black was "What a waste" (waist).
- An episode of Bewitched has Samantha befriend a beleagured magician who is being exploited by his scheming, vain assistant. On learning how she plans to use his tricks to become a star herself, Samantha magics her gown to rip off in front of the live audience and TV cameras, revealing that the assistant wears a girdle.
- Dick from 3rd Rock from the Sun became self concious about some extra weight and bought himself a male corset called "The Shatner". He laces it tightly and goes to work, where Mary and Nina instantly notice when he drops a calculator and can barely pick it up. Then he sits down. The corset can't take the strain and bursts in a spectacular fashion.
- A skit from The Carol Burnett Show has a woman who can't get through the metal detector without it beeping. She finally goes behind a screen, takes off a METAL corset, and goes through the metal detector a last time, getting stuck.
- Lister on Red Dwarf tranfers his body to Rimmer so he can exercise and get it into shape. He ends up going on a huge binge, having forgotten how good food tastes, and tries to hide the fact he made the body much fatter with a heavy duty girdle.
- On 30 Rock it's often mentioned that Liz wears Spanx—when she set out to seduce someone she wore a double set. It's implied Lutz wears Spanx too.
- Andy wears one in the Extras Christmas special, and of course it bursts during his audition.
- Nikki in an episode of Spin City proves Carter is vainer than she is by tearing his shirt open, exposing his "Mr Tummy-Tucker".
- In Will & Grace, Jack once revealed to Will that he wears a man-girdle.
- Psychotically narcissistic Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been known to wear one, as well as makeup. It backfires when a woman he's trying to seduce notices and assumes he's gay.
- In one episode of Dad's Army, the various members of the Home Guard are desperately attempting to look younger to avoid being transferred to the ARP. Captain Mainwaring notices that Sergeant Wilson is standing straighter than usual and it is revealed that he is wearing a girdle (or, as he refers to it, a "gentleman's abdominal support").
- Used for a slight throwaway gag in The Golden Girls. After Blanche throws her back out, she tells the other girls her diagnosis, no physical activity for a week, she has to wear a corset, and stay on her back with her legs elevated. Sophia quickly quips, "That's the same thing you did last Saturday!"
- On Emergency!, Johnny and Roy got called to a woman's house. She put on a new girdle that was so tight she could barely breathe and spoke in little more than a whisper. John cut the girdle off her and it smacked him in the face.
- In The Munsters episode "Low-Cal Munster", Herman resorts to wearing a corset to fit into his old Army uniform after failing on his diet.
- Family Guy: Peter wears a comedically tight corset in order to ride a rollercoaster which he otherwise wouldn't be let on because he's too fat. Of course, since he hasnt actually lost any weight, he's still way too heavy and ends up breaking the rollercoaster, causing a crash that kills at least one child.
- In the Bugs Bunny cartoon "The Wacky Wabbit", Bugs pulls down Elmer's pants, exposing a girdle. (This was at the time when Elmer was drawn fat.) Elmer turns to the audience and says, "Don't waugh. I bet many of you men wear one of these."
- A Warner Bros. Wartime Cartoon has a gag about how citizens are giving up their corsets to help the war effort. The before shows a couple walking down the street; in the after, the woman looks the same, but her husband has a noticeable paunch.
- The Simpsons has a few examples: When a shop specialising in whalebone corsets opens in Springfield, the Comic Book Guy buys himself a ridiculously tight one:
Comic Book Guy: Behold! I am Captain Kirk from Star Trek One! *girdle gives way* Two. *girdle gives way more* Five. *girdle gives way more* Generations. *girdle breaks entirely* Boston Legal.
- Homer tries to wear a very tight girdle to fit into his Pie Man superhero costume. The poor girdle pops seconds after he puts it on.
- In an earlier episode, Krusty walks off an award show due to a terrible script fulled with Incredibly Lame Puns. He accidentally leaves his mic on and broadcasts himself on live TV saying "At least I can take off this girdle." *sound of large gut spilling out*
- In another episode, Homer's gay roommates takes him to a trendy clothing store for a wardrobe update, but his gut keeps spilling out from underneath the shirts. Finally, he puts on a girdle to keep it in.
- An old Mickey Mouse short "The Dognapper" shows Peg-Leg Pete receieving his comeuppance by being frog-marched through the streets with a feminine corset binding his arms to his sides.
- This happens to Zapp Brannigan on an extremely high gravity planet.
- In one episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield attends a cat obedience class with a snooty teacher who secretly wears a girdle under his suit.
- The Mask once featured an ultra modern home that had hundreds of robotic arms to do chores. Of course, the thing went haywire and ripped the suit off Charlie, causing him to cry "It's not a girdle! It's a sports support!
- In an episode of The Critic involving Jay's sister attending a debutante ball, a quick shot of a maid attempting to tie a corset is followed by the reveal that it was being put on Jay. Outside his tuxedo and binding his arms, as well!
- This has become so associated with William Shatner he's become the Trope Codifier. Any parody of Star Trek worth its salt is bound to include a few shots at the infamous girdle, which he denies ever having worn to this day.
- Tabloids that love to point out the follies of celebrities often feature unfortunate actresses with their Spanx showing from under their dresses as they disembark cars.
- Jimmy Kimmel has admitted publicly to wearing Spanx for men during his heavier days.