Could Skinny Jeans Damage Your Health?
It sounds like a ridiculous question doesn't it? Although a predictable one in many ways. It always seems to be the case that anything we actually like ends up being bad for us. Still, we don't eat our jeans, drink our jeans or smoke our jeans so how could they possibly be dangerous?
An article in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry caused quite a stir last year. It reported that an Australian women had been cut out of her jeans after her calves had swelled dramatically and she had developed difficulties in walking. Evidently this was due to squatting for long periods of time whilst she was helping a friend to move into their new home. She had suffered a case of Compartment Syndrome. This is where blood flow to the legs is restricted causing the muscles to swell. The condition also interferes with the function of the nervous system. The authors of the article suggested that the woman's skinny jeans had exacerbated her condition.
If the rash of reports highlighting this case had been published on 1st April I would have clocked it as a prank immediately. Unfortunately the story came to light in June. So should we be worried?
Probably not! People hardly seem to be dropping like flies. Given how many of us now favour skinnies, any serious health implications would surely have surfaced by now. One medical emergency Down Under hardly constitutes a major health scare. The story did make for some eye catching headlines though which is doubtless why it was seized upon with such enthusiasm.
You could make all sorts of claims about various items of clothing being dangerous. For instance, last week when I was out running, I tripped because my shoe lace had come undone. Such wardrobe malfunctions can lead to serious injuries although in my case the only injury was to my pride. Clearly running shoes are hazardous and I should publicise the incident immediately. But wait! What really caused the accident? The shoes or the clumsy idiot wearing them?
Denim Facts and Denim Fiction
I think it is safe to say that wearers of skinny jeans are not walking a tightrope every day when it comes to Compartment Syndrome. At the very least the odds of survival are good. Skinny jeans are the fashion statement of the new millennium. Millions of people wear them day in, day out without collapsing in the street and then suffering from ballooning legs and paralysis. Jeans are safe to wear! Or are they?
Actually there is some evidence that skinny jeans pose a risk to health but the alleged peril has nothing to do with Compartment Syndrome. Experts are suggesting that the real problem with skinny jeans is that they are so flattering! So why is that a threat to health?
Well, the problem seems to be that we look so good in our skinny jeans that we don't perceive ourselves to be overweight, even if we are. This leads us to ignore the need for diet and exercise. The stretchy fabric in the jeans also expands with us so we don't notice when we are gaining weight either. I am fairly convinced that there is some truth to this idea. However, I am absolutely certain that many of us would fail to address the issues with our lifestyles whatever happened to be in fashion.
Skinny jeans apparently also tend to exacerbate acid reflux. This is because they are tight and so apply pressure to the abdomen, pushing acid upwards. In other words, skinny jeans give you heartburn. I would suggest that most people suffering from heartburn should amend their diet before ditching their jeans. If you don't have too much acid in your stomach in the first place then your jeans can't push it anywhere let alone up.
What all of these stories tell us is that we lead unhealthy lives and do stupid things, not that we are wearing the wrong clothes! In any case, if clothing and footwear can be dangerous then there are many fashions which present a much more imminent threat than our jeans.
Take handbags for instance. They are really dangerous! Hang a heavy handbag over your shoulder for long enough and it will murder your posture and lead to neck pain and headaches. We should all stop using shoulder bags with immediate effect. Shoulder bags have nothing on shoes though. High heels are veritable serial killers. Not only do they break your ankles, they do permanent damage to your feet and can even adversely affect your spine. Clearly they should be banned. Running shoes are definitely incredibly dangerous. I proved this myself in the aforementioned detailed scientific study which culminated in me finding myself face down on the pavement outside my local branch of Tesco. Hazardous though the shoes clearly were, they did save me from actually entering said supermarket and spending my money on a doughnut with a million calories in it. Come to think of it, if I had been wearing my skinny jeans at the time then I wouldn't have grazed my knee.
We can all relax. Skinny jeans are not hazardous to our health. Jeans are not the problem, we are! We make poor lifestyle choices and do dumb things. When our actions end in disaster it is easier to apportion blame elsewhere. The Australian lady did not get Compartment Syndrome because of her jeans, she got it because she squatted down for hours without giving her legs a break. I fell over in the street because I am bad at tying shoelaces. Fashion isn't the problem, it is the people wearing it.