I must confess: I do not wear Spanx. I’ve been forced to embrace my muffin top, every inch of it, because I cannot physically wear shapewear. Believe me, for the sake of my clothes, for the sake of my style, and for the sake of my ego, I’ve tried. Wearing anything tighter than a t-shirt evokes an immediate surge of anxiety. I start feeling sweaty, nervous, and am immediately overcome with an urge to swallow a handful or two of Tums. But that’s just me. Plenty of women swear by Spanx and squeeze their flesh and flab into its tight embrace daily with no complaints, or at least not as many as me. It turns out all of our complaints, both big and small, are pretty darn valid.
Here comes the part that might be tough for some of you to read: Spanx (and other shapewear) can actually have some pretty negative effects on your body.
In a recent Huffington Post article, Rebecca Adams explores all the ways Spanx, and other form-fitting undergarments, might be doing your body wrong, and it’s a long list. Prepare to be horrified:
1) Your stomach, intestine, and colon can become compressed. This can make the effects of acid reflux worse, and give you heartburn.
2) It can “provoke erosive esophagitis,” which is fancy lingo for severe injury to the esophagus due to acid erosion.
3) The tightness impacts your digestive track, and if your intestines are compressed too long, it can cause abdominal discomfort, bloating, and gas.
4) Your diaphragm becomes restricted and your abdomen flares when you inhale, causing shallow breathing.
5) It can compress your bowels, can be problematic for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or functional bowel disorders, and can cause episodes of incontinence.
6) Shapewear can suppress your urge to go to the bathroom, which may cause stress incontinence.
7) As for the lower part of the body, it can cause meralgia paresthetica, which is “when the peripheral nerve in your thigh is compressed.” This can cause tingling, numbness, and pain in your legs.
8) The compression of your thighs can lead to a decrease in circulation, and even blood clots.
9) For those who are “genetically” prone to varicose veins, those can develop, too.
10) It can also lead to “lymph congestion,” another way of saying fat ankles.
11) For those who depend on shapewear to give them better posture, back muscles could suffer.
12) Due to the tightness of the shapewear, not enough air circulates, and it traps in moisture, which means it’s a perfect breeding ground for icky germs that can lead to yeast and bacterial infections.
13) You can develop folliculitis, which causes red puss-filled bumps along hair follicles.
14) And the one that bothers me the most, as Glamour states, shapewear can cause hyperventilation and panic attacks.
I told you it was a long list. But here’s the thing, these constricting undergarments are fine and dandy when worn every now and then. These problems usually occur if you wear Spanx daily for hours and hours. Let the muffin top breathe every now and again! We, as women, don’t usually mind suffering a bit for beauty, whether it’s wearing high heels, waxing, plucking, or even undergoing more drastic measures like Botox or plastic surgery. What’s surprising, at least to me, is the whole slew of things that can happen to a body under the simple bondage of shapewear. It really can take a toll, and one that might not be worth it. For me, I’ll just proudly show off my muffin top and the occasional bulge, because folliculitis, meralgia paresthetica, and an erosive esophagitis are things I’d rather avoid, even for the sake of vanity.
Do you wear Spanx or other form of shapewear? Have you had any of these issues?