Spanx is Taking Control


Spanx takes control when your body needs to slim down. It started with entrepreneur Sara Blakely who had a brainchild for a new clothing line. Exasperated by the unattractive, telltale panty lines, she removed the bottoms of her pantyhose so that she could be line free in her white pants – the first phase of Spanx was created. In 2012, the Spanx brand was valued at $1 billion.

Depending on what area needs consideration, Spanx targets problem regions such as stomach, thighs and butt, to full body.

Spanx is to shapewear what Q-Tip is to a cotton swab – “a brand that stands for the category” of shapewear. This undergarment took the fashion industry by storm. It instantly gained popularity with Hollywood as celebrities such as Christina Hendricks and Beyonce squeezed into their little numbers, appearing sleek and slim. Some celebrities such as Octavia Spencer have admitted to layering the Spanx in order to appear even svelter. Who wouldn’t want to lose their sagging bits and look sexy, right?

Recent studies are showing that Spanx and other shapewear brands may be going over and above just holding it all in, these undergarments may be literally squashing your organs. Could an undergarment actually be detrimental to your health? Yes.

Constricted shapewear, like Spanx, or any extremely tight garment takes control and  increases the risk “of compressing organs or nerves,” according to neurologist Orly Avitzur, consumer reports medical advisor. Avitzur reveals that patients complain of symptoms such as lack of sensation and tingling in the front to outer thigh area, from hip to knee. After speaking with them, Dr. Avitzur has discovered that constricted shapewear is the main reason for patient’s problems.

A team of doctors which included a gastroenterologist, dermatologist and chiropractor, spoke with the Huffington Post and agree. According to gastroenterologist, Dr. Kuemmerle, the constricting shapewear compresses essential organs such as intestines, colon and stomach. It can disrupt the flow of digestion. The undergarment can exacerbate existing problems such as heartburn and acid reflux. He maintains that this type of garment can also “provoke erosive esophagitis.”


The constriction from shapewear can also cause shallow breathing. Chiropractor, Dr. Erickson explains that when a person inhales, their diaphragm inflates while the stomach flares out. However, with shapewear such as Spanx, movement is restricted which reduces the “the excursion in respiration.”

A reversible condition caused by sitting in Spanx called, meralgia paresthetica, is caused when the peripheral nerve in the thigh becomes compressed. This leads to the symptoms mentioned by Dr. Avitzur – numbness, tingling and leg pain. The pain can come and go or become unremitting. When a person sits in spanx, it’s like slipping on “giant rubber bands” around the upper thigh, and constricting them. Dr. Erickson explains that sitting in constricting shapewear can decrease circulation and cause blood clots.

For centuries, women have been cramming their not-so-slender bodies into constricting garments in the name of fashion.  After all, to look sexy means discomfort. No matter how much it’s crushing, Spanx is vogue. Then again, when Spanx takes control over your health, it may be time for willpower and a new trend. Maybe it’s time to embrace the curves, and lose the Barbie image?

by Dawn Levesque


Business Week


Huffington Post


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