According to an investigation by The Huffington Post, the shapewear beloved by red carpet actresses and normal people going to adult proms is not good for you at all. Doctors warn that Spanx can cause tingling and numbness in the legs, which can lead to blood clots. Blood clots, as you may know, can kill you!
Spanx, founded by Sara Blakely, is the most popular brand of shapewear. There are many options now as far as cut and style go, but the main idea is that it's skintight underwear that squishes in your stomach so it looks better in dresses.
In addition to giving you a blood clot, Spanx can "worsen acid reflux and heartburn" and "provoke erosive esophagitis," according to Dr. John Kuemmerle. Dr. Maryann Mikhail warns that the super-tight granny panties can also cause yeast and bacterial infections. Oh, and Spanx can make you pee your pants and pass gas uncontrollably. What, may we ask, is the point of wearing shapewear to a fancy event if it's going to make you lose control of your bowels?
Spanx aren't the only body-squeezing clothing item to have serious side effects. As The Wall Street Journal reported in 2012, skinny jeans can cause back pain and "a rare condition called lipoatrophia semicircularis, in which horizontal lesions appear around the thighs."
Spanx fans will tell you they need their Bridget Jones-style underwear to appear thinner. Which is silly, but fashion fiends have been manipulating their bodies to fit into clothes since the dawn of time. The original corset, for example, caused Victorian women to break ribs and bleed internally. The Chinese custom of footbinding, which started in the 8th century and continued in some areas into the 1900s, gave women gangrene (and was obviously an extremely painful process). Many women died from infection.
But as Alice Hester-Jones at Cracked pointed out in 2009, ladies aren't the only ones to have died for fashion. The stiff high collar, popular for men in the 19th century, often led to accidental asphyxiation.
Today, doctors recommend wearing Spanx (and their slightly-less-dangerous counterparts, skinny jeans) in moderation. The Wire recommends buying clothes that fit.