Are Your Clothes Killing You?

Here's the thing: Some clothes can have repercussions that extend far beyond sore tootsies and a boisterous belly. Here, some styles that may actually be hazardous to your heath.

Getty Images

One must suffer for beauty, or the saying goes. And let’s face it, when it comes to our clothes, a lot of us are totally on board with that idea. Numb toes from nosebleed-high Jimmy Choos nabbed at a Black Friday sale? No biggie. A persistently rumbling stomach brought on by a pair of skin-tight James jeans? We can deal.

But some fashion pieces can have repercussions that extend far beyond sore tootsies and a boisterous belly. Here, some styles that may actually be hazardous to your health. (Be afraid, fashionistas. Be very afraid.)

Sky-high heels. Hey, they don’t call ‘em killer heels for nothing. Bunions, calluses and hammer toe—those are the most common grievances. But teeter around too long in shoes that are two-inches or higher and you could encounter more serious stuff in the form of stress fractures, ankle sprains, even a shortened Achilles tendon. There’s also a condition called “pump bumps,” which sounds kinda cute but is actually pretty painful (basically, a bony growth that forms over the back of the heel). Not to mention the strain heels put on your knee, which can travel to your hip, then your back, then…well you get the idea.

Skinny jeans. “Does my butt look good in this?” Yeah, probably. But encasing your torso and legs in sausage-skin-tight fabric can result in some funky digestive issues, including (let’s not be shy here) serious gas. And then there’s a nasty little thing called meralgia paresthetica, a pinching of the nerve when your leg is compressed—which could lead to tingling sensations, burning pain in your outer thigh, and, possibly, a “This is weird—I can’t feel my leg” numbness.

Flip-flops and flats. We know what you’re thinking: How can footwear that’s this comfortable possibly cause problems? For one thing, shoes with very little support can lead to collapsing arches, as well as plantar fasciitis (an inflammation of tissue on the bottom of the foot and a common cause of heel pain) and heel spurs. More unhappiness: Those slap-happy shoes actually alter the way you walk, because to keep them on your feet, you have to take shorter strides and curl up your toes. All of this can leads to hip, knee, and back pain. If you refuse to give your flats, at least look for ones that offer some arch support, and don't wear them for long periods of time.

Shapewear. Just how badly do you want that flat belly? Compressing your mid-section will give you a toned look, but it can also cause heartburn and worsen the effects of acid reflux. What’s more, all that extra pressure can play havoc with your intestines (bad news for anyone suffering from irritable bowel syndrome). Our advice: Try some daily crunches—or learn to love that pooch.

Oversize totes. We get it: Your life is in that thing. But lugging around a big bag can be bad news for your body, in the form of back pain, shoulder strain, even headaches. Carry a heavy load for long enough and you could even end up with degenerative joint disease. Not ready to go downsize? Then look for a larger tote that has a sturdy shoulder strap, or try a carrying case with wheels.

Thongs. What damage could a flimsy little piece of material possibly do? A lot. That shifting, itty-bitty stretch of fabric leaves your nether regions exposed to whatever it is you’re wearing, which increases the chance of bacteria spreading from one place to the other. (Can you say, yeast and urinary tract infections?) If you really can’t abide by panty lines, at least look for dental floss made from a breathable fabric.

Earrings. Most of us know that cheap jewelry, which often contains nickel, can lead to skin irritation in those who are allergic. Big, heavy danglers can also do some real damage, causing lobes to sag, piercings to stretch, and, in rare cases, lead to torn-open ear lobes. A visit to a derm or plastic surgeon can put things right, but it’ll be painful (think: injectables or even surgery) and pricey.

Neck ties. Nope, even men aren't exempt. A study published by The British Journal of Ophthalmology suggests that sporting a tightly-worn necktie on a daily basis may be a risk factor for increased eye pressure and possibly glaucoma. Hey guys, loosen up little.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles