If you think body-deforming fashion went out with 19th-century boned corsets and bustles, think again. A recent spate of research and studies on high heels, and one amazing news item on skinny jeans, reveals the dark secret behind the stilettoed,slender silhouettes that are all the rage: fashion hurts and can damage your body in mysterious ways.
Skinny Jeans as Health Hazard
I’m not a big fan of skinny jeans mostly because I just can’t pull off the look. I do have one pair, which I bought a size too big so that they fit loosely. I know that is kind of beside the point.
Still I’m glad I opted to size up. It turns out that tight skinny jeans recently caused an Australian woman to lose the use of her legs after she repeatedly squatted in the jeans while helping her sister pack cupboards in preparation for a move. According to Washington Post coverage, the “damage was the result of compression at the calves that created a ‘compartment syndrome’ where pressure builds up inside an enclosed space in the body.”
Doctors had to cut off her jeans to free her. She was unable to walk unaided for four days.
The good news? Skinny jeans may be on their way out in favor of the looser ‘boyfriend’ look, which is based on the idea that those fabulous jeans you’re wearing were lifted from your boyfriend’s closet. Not sure what you’re supposed to wear if don’t have one--a boyfriend, that is.
High Heels Cause Pain, and They're Dangerous
I used to love to wear high heels as often as I liked. These days, however, I choose my heels carefully, as my feet are not what they used to be.
According to research by the Royal College of Surgeons, my experience is no anomaly. Hospitalizations of women for a painful condition called Morton’s neuroma has increased 115 percent in the last 10 years. The Mayo Clinic defines Morton’s neuroma as “a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes… This can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.” Who suffers the most from this syndrome? Women between the ages of 40 and 65 who have been wearing heels for years--or, women like me.
Walking in high heels not only causes inevitable foot pain, it also has been shown to change the biomechanics of walking. A study by a group of Australian scientists reveals that women “habituated” to wearing heels at least 40 hours a week walked differently even when barefoot. Apparently, heel wearers walk with “shorter, more forceful strides than the control group, their feet perpetually in a flexed, toes-pointed position,” which causes calf muscles to shorten.
And yet, women continue to wear them. According to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 72 percent of women wear high heels, 39 percent of them daily. Why? More than 70 percent say they’re an essential part of their power work outfits. Others like the elongating effect on the body and the added height. Most daily heel wearers are young (between 20 and 29) but that doesn’t necessarily protect them. Incidence of ER visits due to injuries from high heels doubled between 2002 and 2012. Most of the injuries were to ankles. None were fatal.
Even with this wealth of evidence that body confining and foot elevating fashion can have short- and long-term impacts on women’s health, we’re still drawn to mimic the images of beauty glorified by mass media. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase fashion victim. -- Emily Brower Auchard
July 21, 2015
If you missed our last issue, here you go:
Remembering our Dads
If you liked this story, you'll also like:
Meeting My Mother, a Small-Town Girl Turned Fashion Model
Booth Babes, Redressed
Photo courtesy of flickr user chris gold
Living a new normal is not an easy thing.
After our kids were born, my husband and I learned to deal with being tired all the time, having the shoulders of our clothes stained with shmushed Cheerios, and remembering never to leave the house without the diaper bag.
That was our new normal for many years, and it was all consuming. But it’s nothing compared to the new normal that two very different women described living this week.
First, Caitlyn Jenner, known up until now as Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner, introduced herself to the world on the cover of Vanity Fair. Jenner, 65, first talked about her transition to a woman in a TV special with Diane Sawyer in April that was watched by nearly 17 million people. So the fact that he would soon be a she shouldn’t have been a complete surprise.
Next Wednesday, April 22nd is Earth Day, a global event that celebrates the beauty of our environment and supports its protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is widely credited with launching the modern environmental protection movement. The inaugural event capitalized on rising awareness of environmental damage from humans and started with the publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.”
Despite the book’s chilling predictions for nature and wildlife, by 1970 nothing had changed and, indeed, a lot had gotten worse. We drove big heavy cars that guzzled leaded gas, we littered at will, and we allowed industrial smoke and sludge to spill into our air and water.
We've made progress, yes, but today we have even bigger challenges: climate change and global warming. Sometimes the depth and breadth of our impact on the Earth seems so big that individual action seems fruitless. Our roadways and airways run on carbon. Thirty-nine percent of our electricity is powered by coal. Plastic, created from petroleum derivatives, permeates almost every aspect of consumer culture: it’s in cars, phones, furniture, toothbrushes, floss…everything!
Can individual action make a difference to the health of our earth? Believing that it does is the only sane option. Climate activists are routinely asked how they reduce their own carbon footprints, and they respond seriously with real solutions.
So in celebration of Earth Day, here’s our list of the ways we can all try to reduce our carbon footprint and increase the health of our environment. Individual action matters.
Recycle and compost: I am fortunate to live in a county (Marin, California) with municipal recycling and composting. Our garbage is complicated: aluminum, tin, glass and plastic goes into one trash can; clean paper goes into another and everything organic from chicken bones to coffee grinds to lettuce leaves, as well as pizza boxes, goes into the compost can. Thanks to this system, the smallest can in our collection is the landfill can.
With 2.3 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with cancer each year, it's highly likely that all of us will, at some time, know someone (or several someones) living with cancer.
Personally, I can count three in my extended family, and one dear friend, Sandra Cannon, who, thankfully, is now completely healthy and cured. She was “lucky” to have a type of cancer (large diffuse b cell lymphoma) that doesn’t just go into remission; it gets completely eradicated.
During her treatment she created a circle of care that included close friends and a chef, learning along the way what kind of help and support she really needed. Here, in her own words, is her list of 11 physical and spiritual gifts for supporting a loved one undergoing cancer treatment.
1) Nice pajamas
Your loved one will see a lot of down time whether they want to or not. It took me a long time to submit to my bed, but the choice turns out to be rest a lot now or die. Rest seems to be the obvious choice.
I usually reserve January for coming to grips with the dietary excesses that start with Halloween candy, then carry on through pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, standing rib roast on Christmas Day and oyster stew on New Year's Eve.
But this year I’m putting eating clean and lite aside, in favor of living clean and light. My new resolve to clear the clutter comes thanks to an amazing book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.
Subtitled, “The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” Kondo’s book offers detailed instructions on how to unburden your home from its mass of things, and then put what you keep in order.
I’m not one to be swayed by self-help promises, but my brief experience with Kondo’s approach, which she calls the KonMari method, has worked some “magic” on me. I’ve read other books about clearing life’s clutter, but there’s something about this neat, trim little book that has had a real impact on my day-to-day existence. Here are just a few of these strategies.
Declutter and organize thing by thing, not room by room. This incredibly simple approach is revolutionary. Start with clothes, then books, then papers, then miscellany, and finish with mementos. I haven’t had time, as Kondo suggests, to pile every item of clothing I own into the middle of a room, so I’ve broken my work down to smaller categories: socks, scarves, work out clothing, pajamas, sweaters, etc. Still, I’ve managed to take almost 15 garbage bags of stuff to Goodwill. I can open all my dresser drawers, take what I need, and close them without a struggle. Magic!
Keep only what "sparks joy." Deciding what to keep has always been a burden for me. I’m no hoarder, but I definitely have trouble getting rid of stuff that I “should” like or wear. Those things, whether a set of hopelessly fusty and outdated scarves or a crystal candy dish, trigger feelings of guilt if I so much as look at them. They are not sparking joy. Kondo says they've got to go. On the other hand, if a favorite old T-shirt makes you happy, keep it. Now, I listen to my inner discarder every day. Those ugly coffee mugs and plastic 7-Eleven Icee cups can be someone else’s problem.
Folding can be fun! Kondo’s instructions on how to fold clothing are enlightening. Properly folded clothing takes up much less room -- in my experience up to two-thirds less. My once-chaotic drawer of workout clothing feels almost empty -- in part from getting rid of worn-out items but in larger part from taking the time to neatly fold and/or roll each item. (The Japanese have a history of fascination with folding, as One Thing New's Kimberly Weisul noted in a column about it.
Kondo’s method is as follows:
“First, fold each lengthwise side of the garment towards the center…and tuck sleeves in to make a long rectangular shape. It doesn’t matter how you fold the sleeves. Next, pick up the short end of the rectangle and fold toward the other short end. Then fold again in the same manner, in halves or in thirds. The number of folds should be adjusted so that the folded clothing when standing on edge fits the height of the drawer…If you find the end result is the right shape but too loose or floppy to stand up, it’s a sign that your way of folding doesn’t match the type of clothing. Every piece of clothing has its own ‘sweet spot’ where it feels just right.”
Using this folding technique and standing items on edge, I can assess a drawer’s contents at a glance and see if I’m running low on socks, for example. Yes, even socks and underwear should be folded. If you do, you’ll never have to search frantically at 6 a.m. for clean underwear. Again, magic!
You already have all the storage you need. The KonMari method is completely storage-system free. No trips to the Container Store required. As Kondo puts it, “Storage experts are hoarders.” The solution is not to find a place for all your stuff, but to cull your stuff to fit the space you live in. Once you discard what you don’t love, and fold what you do, you’ll have more than enough room. With all the extra space I’ve created, I’ve moved items from my own overflow storage back to my drawers, discovering a few ‘lost’ items in the process. In my kitchen, the tea and coffee cabinet is free of weird teas I will never drink, and the mugs fit easily on the bottom shelf.
The word “tidying” is misleading; “jettisoning” is closer to what I’ve done so far. And it feels great. I really do feel lighter. Kondo offers a completely new take on “getting clean” that I’ve already recommended to anyone polite enough to listen to me rave about it.
Kondo has an even bigger lesson in store for her readers: The ultimate, far-reaching impacts of tidying, according to her, include learning that “letting go is more important than adding;” confronting and addressing our “attachment to the past or anxiety about the future,” which manifests in the stuff we keep; and understanding that memories live in our hearts and minds, and not in mementos.
I can't guarantee this book will change your life. But it really has changed mine. -- Emily Brower Auchard
Missed our last issue? Here you go:
New Year, New Ideas
If you liked this story, you might also like:
Six Steps to a Lovely Condolence Note
Is Multi-Tasking Frying Your Brain?
20 Things To Be Thankful for: 2014 Edition
Got a story idea? Think we're fabulous? Email us at more [at] onethingnew [dot] com, follow us on twitter, or visit us on facebook. And help us spread the word. We appreciate your help in getting the word out about what we're up to!