Spanx lovers beware: America’s favorite belly-flattening, thigh-slimming shapewear may have some very unfavorable side effects (aside from making wearers feel like a walking sausage stuffed in too-tight casing, that is). Recent research suggests that popular body-slimming undergarments, like Spanx, can crush more than pesky belly flab. Turns out, organs are at risk, too.
The team at the Huffington Post blasted the scary Spandex story wide open when it asked a group of myth-busting shapewear experts, Dr. John Kuemmerle, Dr. Maryann Mikhail, and Dr. Karen Erickson, to investigate. The group discovered that the uber-tight undergarments, when worn over long periods of time, can cause a number of troublesome ailments ranging from digestive issues and circulatory concerns to infections and incontinence. Consistent wearers are also at risk for poor posture, blood clots, varicose veins, and weakened muscles.
“Everyone I know owns shapewear,” Dr. Erickson confessed to HuffPo. “But I think we want to be mindful to not wear it on a day-in and day-out basis.” Erickson urged wearers to save the Spanx for special occasions and to carefully select a well-fitting pair that smooths instead of smooshes.
One of health experts’ main concerns seems to be the body-flattening shapewear’s organ-crushing potential. Due to its super squeezability, wearing shapewear, like Spanx, to temporarily trim and slim excess flab can put organs at serious risk. Too-tight foundation garments compress the stomach, colon, and intestines and may exacerbate conditions like acid reflux while contributing to more serious esophageal erosion. In addition, wearers may find it much more difficult to breathe and digest food normally. “It’s like wearing a tourniquet” said Dr. Manny Alvarez with Fox News. “It cuts off blood flow.” Alvarez cautioned shapewear users to wear with extreme care, suggesting, like Erickson, that tourniquet-like under-apparel is not something anyone should wear every day.
But this is nothing new, is it? Contemporary shapewear, typically made from some sort of super-Spandex, is usually worn to achieve a more fashion-forward figure. Look back just a few years to see that things like leather girdles, corsets made of steel or whale bone, stiff collars, and bullet bras were used for the exact same reason, according to lingerie retailer HerRoom.com. Let’s face it: people have been crushing their insides to achieve better-looking bodies for pretty much all of recorded history. Too-tight corsets broke ribs and caused internal bleeding and breathing issues, stiff collars sometimes led to accidental asphyxiation, and bullet bras led to Madonna’s rise to super stardom. It’s all madness.
So why does everyone keep smooshing their bodies into too-tight casings? Why not just wear comfortable clothes that are, well, comfortable? That would probably defeat the whole purpose of trying to look better for each other, which is something humans have been doing since day one. Truth is, people will probably still wear Spanx for its incredible flab-crushing ability, even if it means risking a crushed organ here or there. It’s what people do. But be careful, save the Spanx for very special occasions, and always make sure there’s a bathroom nearby. Just in case.
By: Katie Bloomstrom