The Story on Shapewear

fragment of a white satin corset with lacing, wrong side of clothesShow of hands: How many of us have worn shapewear—at least once—in an effort to achieve someone’s ideal vision of the perfect body shape? Considering that about one in 10 women squeeze into shaping undergarments on a daily basis, it’s not a stretch (see what we did there?) to assume that most of us have at least tried them out. But, is that okay? Or could we be causing long-term damage to our bodies?

The shapewear effect
Gone are the days of lace-up corsets and body-binding techniques designed to permanently cinch the waist—you can rest assured that today’s undergarments will not relocate your internal organs. But, even so, wearing too-tight shapewear (or wearing it too often or for too long at a time) may result in some not-so-attractive consequences in the short term:

  • That constant squeezing of the stomach may cause reflux – food and acid backing up into the esophagus – as well as worsen existing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. You might also notice some excess bloating and gas.
  • The pressure on the abdomen holds the diaphragm in place, keeping it from fully doing its job while you’re trying to breathe. This may lead to hyperventilation and panic attacks, which are actually the most common side effects of shapewear.
  • Holding it all in may lead to, well, holding it all in. You may not feel the need to urinate, even when your bladder is full, leading to stress incontinence or a UTI.
  • Worn too tightly on the legs (even just on the thighs), shapewear may cause numbness, tingling, blood clots, pain, decreased circulation, varicose veins and even the dreaded cankles.
  • Any clothing that’s too tight and not breathable is prone to trapping moisture, creating a breeding ground for germs and yeast, and increasing the risk of folliculitis – ingrown hairs and pimple-like bumps in the hair follicles.

But, can I still wear it?
If you love your shapewear, and it makes you feel good, then by all means – wear it! Worn correctly and in the correct size for your body, shapewear can offer support to core muscle groups and improve circulation – not to mention helping your favorite outfit slip on a little more easily. Here are our tips for wearing shapewear the right way:

  • Choose garments that fit well. Your best bet may be to ask for help from a fitting expert at the store
  • Use shapewear for “special” occasions, not every day.
  • Don’t wear shapewear for more than eight hours at a stretch.