A substantial portion of our consumer choices occurs within the fashion industry. The womenswear industry alone is valued at $621 billion dollars, which is $219 billion more than menswear. Fashion is and has historically been a significant piece of our individual identities. However, what many of us may not realize, is that each time we make a clothing purchase, we are potentially supporting practices with grave consequences for our health.
While few studies have been conducted to directly link chemicals in clothing to human health issues, the chemicals often found in garments (or used in their production) have been linked to neurotoxicity, liver, kidney, and lung disorders, cancer, and more. For example, clothes that are marketed as wrinkle-resistant are often made with formaldehyde and have been linked with eye and nose irritation, and allergic reactions on people’s skin.
10 Ways Your Fashion Accessories Can Make You Sick
- Chemicals in fabrics: This is an obvious one. According to Greenpeace’s Media Officer, Myriam Fallon, “Many chemicals that are used in the dying and processing of fabrics can become hormone-disrupting and even cancer-causing when they break down in nature, and those chemicals are being dumped into rivers right near the factories.” Of the retail chains whose product was tested, Calvin Klein, Zara, and Mango’s wares were all tainted with hazardous chemicals.
- High-heel shoes: especially pointy-toe styles. Heels can cause painful bunions and hammertoes, leading to painful and expensive surgery down the road. Not to mention that they are difficult to walk in, and can be a hazard when trying to run for a cab. There are also the added risks of tripping, falling, and rolling your ankles when you’re wearing heels, and sometimes these little missteps and tumbles can have dire consequences. With this in mind, it’s important to do yourself a favor by staying grounded and opting for flats whenever possible.
- Thongs: that cause urinary tract and vaginal infections. Along with being painful and annoying, it turns out that the undergarments can harbor bacteria in the most unwelcome of places. For instance, if you’re someone who’s prone to UTIs or other infections, wearing a thong can make the recovery process more difficult. Additionally, depending upon your activity level, the back part of your thong can have a tendency to slide forward and transfer bacteria.
- Constricting shapewear: to create the desired hourglass shape, the Lycra undergarments squeeze and sometimes even pinch. The tight garments can compress nerves, leading to pain and numbness, and they can even cause yeast infections (we refer you to number three). Since shapewear is meant to be extremely tight and form-fitting, it can put unnecessary and unwanted pressure on your internal organs and thereby cause a whole slew of health problems if worn for too long. To that end, it can also exacerbate acid reflux and heartburn by causing fluids to be pushed out of your stomach.
- Too-heavy earrings: First, many of today’s earrings are so heavy and large that women can end up inadvertently stretching or tearing their earlobes as a result. In fact, these giant earrings have a tendency to get hooked onto objects or even ripped out by unknowing children. Oversized earrings are inflicting damage on women’s earlobes. Women are now undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair lobes that have suffered abuse due to doorknocker-size baubles.
- Overstuffed: heavy-as-hell handbags. Large, overfilled purses cause back and shoulder pain. Women have been accused of carrying too much crap, and now we are paying for consequences, with trips to the chiropractor to try to repair the damage.
- Tight belts: Not only can waist-cinchers be uncomfortable (especially after that cheeseburger at lunch), but they can cause pain and tingling. Belts can cause numbness in the legs by compressing a major nerve, the lateral, femoral cutaneous nerve, that runs from the abdomen to the outer thigh.
- Skinny jeans: They can be difficult to get into, almost impossible to zip up and it turns out they can be dangerous, too. To make matters worse, there have been known cases of skinny jeans exacerbating a condition called compartment syndrome, which is caused by the buildup of pressure from the swelling of body tissues. Now that you have the skinny on skinny jeans, maybe you’ll rather put on a looser pair that are more comfortable and healthier. SEE: Vagina Overheat: Why Women Must Stop Wearing Tight Clothes