Is Shapewear Worth The Health Risks And The Pain?

May 5, 2015
shapewear, compression pants, health

Confessions of the damned: Last week, I wore shapewear so tight that into my third hour of wearing them, I was in so much pain, I thought I was having a heart attack.

RELATED: Self-Compassion: The Importance Of Being Kind To Yourself

And I’m not even kidding; I had severe shooting pain and cramps in my abdomen and chest only relieved when I took the damn compression, “suck-in pants” off and promptly threw them away with a flourish into the garbage, where they belonged.

The health risks of wearing super-tight shapewear made famous by A-list celebrities and power brokers such as Oprah and the Kardashian clan are well documented by gastroenterologists and doctors alike, so why on earth do we women do this to ourselves?!

shapewear, compression pants, health

Previously that night, my husband and two toddlers were highly amused when I unashamedly strutted around the house, not-so-resplendent in my special torture device: boned shapewear pants, as I prepared for a date night with said man. “Why on earth do you do that to yourself?” he asked, sincere and aghast in his concern for my well-being at wearing said extremely unattractive suck-in pants.

Why indeed?! I know wearing shapewear for long periods of time can’t be doing me (or my internal organs in particular) any good, but yet still I wear them, from time-to-time. Is it dumb vanity to blame? Living in the past? I’d wanted to wear a sexy, designer dress that night and have the sleek, flat abs I once sported – pre-babies – so I guess it’s both, in my case.

“Beauty is pain,” I’d quipped, unmoved in my quest for a flat tummy, as my beloveds made cute, but annoying jokes at my expense about how I looked like I was going scuba diving. Hmmph.

And in case you hadn’t heard the news, here comes the serious part; medical experts now believe shapewear like Spanx, or Nancy Ganz, for example – though there are many other brands out there in the marketplace – which compress the abdomen, bum and thighs, can cause a wide range of unpleasant side effects and health ramifications.

shapewear, compression pants, health

Due to its tight and restrictive design, shapewear literally squishes your vital organs, leaving your stomach, intestine and colon compressed. This can cause pinched nerves; reflux and heartburn; vaginal yeast infections and bladder infections; digestive problems; abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas; bowel disorders; decreased circulation and increased risk of blood clots and more.

It’s quite a long list isn’t it? Eek. And the pressure to look slim, svelte and sleek doesn’t just affect us women; there’s even various shapewear brands available for men now. What’s more, pregnant women don’t even escape the clutches of dastardly shapewear and fashion hosiery marketers; yep, you’ve now got to grow a tiny, healthy human and still smooth your normal, natural lady lumps! Personally, I find this extremely distasteful, but then if Spanx for pregnant women boosts their confidence, who am I to judge?

shapewear, compression pants, health

Despite the dire health warnings, people – like me – are still buying and wearing their beloved Spanx, but there is some doctor’s advice we can all heed: don’t wear your shapewear for too long.

Restrict the evil, compression undergarments to special events, but then take them off ASAP. NB: shapewear is not designed for everyday wear, medical experts say. And finally, as any fashion stylist will tell you; shapewear fit is very important. Find the right size that actually fits you now – not the size you want to be. Ask yourself: “Is it cutting into me? Do I feel short of breath and/or like my vital organs are being constricted in manner of a snake who’s swallowed a possum?”

Ah, the things we women do in the pursuit of so-called beauty and high fashion. It’s not a very kind thing to do to ourselves, is it? And would you really want to encourage a man to do the same? I don’t think there would ever be a good reason for a man to don these Manx (men’s Spanx), unless of course you wanted them to experience the idiocy, unfair societal expectations and pain associated with being a woman.

shapewear, compression pants, health

What do you think? Is wearing shapewear worth the health risks?

Images via Huffington Post, Pregnancy. The Fun Times Guide, The Hoopla, Cosmopolitan, dfwstyledaily.com, 

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