When the Hollywood tabloids blast pictures and videos of women all over the news, their hair and makeup always seem to be perfectly coiffed, and the lack of any bumps and lumps on their bodies makes their seemingly flawless appearance questionable. The secret? Shapewear. However, despite the celebrity look that many women might get with these slimming shapewear pieces, they could potentially cause severe damage, according to health care professionals, such as yeast infections, gastrointestinal complications, and the crushing of organs.
The whole point of these popular undergarments is to squeeze and compress a woman’s stomach and thighs, but unfortunately it may lead to gastrointestinal problems. "Shapewear couldn't do its job if it wasn't tight. Unfortunately, this leaves your stomach, intestine, and colon compressed, which can worsen acid reflux and heartburn." Dr. John Kuemmerle told The Huffington Post. "Restrictive clothing can also provoke erosive esophagitis.”
Despite the harmful effects, however, the shapewear remains popular, especially among celebrities. Gwyneth Paltrow told StyleBistro, “…they just squeeze you in. It’s terrific! That’s how all the Hollywood girls do it!” Tyra Banks even shared a few Hollywood secrets with StyleBistro: “Every celebrity walking down the red carpet. You think she’s all just naturally like ‘shooop.’ A lot of them have Spanx on.”
Pain, tingling, and numbness can develop from sitting in shapewear for long periods of time, resulting in a condition called meralgia paresthetica, which is caused when pressure is put on a nerve in the thigh. Shallow breath, is also another hallmark symptom of wearing shapewear products because the garment is constantly squeezing on the diaphragm. Many people also find themselves not wanting to go to the bathroom because of the pressure from the shapewear on their bladder. This, too, can be dangerous. "If you postpone urinating, it can cause stress incontinence, where you leak, or it can exaggerate stress incontinence with people who already have it." Dr. Karen Erickson, also told The Huffington Post.
Popular shapewear brands include, Spanx, Maidenform Shapewear, and Skweez Couture, designed by New York City housewife, Jill Zarin. Of course, with many things in life, if used with caution and sparingly, shapewear can be OK. "I think we want to be mindful to not wear it on a day-in and day-out basis." Erickson said. "It's not a problem if you wear it for an evening or a special occasion, but it's not a good idea to wear it daily and sit in it for hours on end."