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The Hidden Dangers in Fashion and Beauty Trends

Growing up, many women often heard “beauty is pain.” But how much pain is too much and where do we draw the line? There are some items that are used every day with hidden dangers to them. Olivia Forys, MD, Internal Medicine at NorthShore, talks about today’s common fashion pains and how to prevent them:


  • High heels carry body weight primarily on the balls of the feet - this consistent pressure on the feet increases the risk of damage to the spine. High heels are often a tripping hazard, inducing sprained or broken ankles. Avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time or for long distances, and make sure that they are at a comfortable height.
  • Flats and flip flops have no support in them causing pain for knees, hips and the spine. The lack of stabilization in these shoes can cause rolled or sprained ankles. Purchase flats that have additional support in them and instead of flip flops, wear gym shoes.
  • Heavy purses or laptop bags put a lot of strain on the arms, shoulders and back, causing headaches and muscle tension. For women, it is recommended to carry small, light purses. Laptops should be carried in a backpack where the weight is evenly distributed.
  • Corsets make it difficult to breathe which can cause fainting. Corsets – or waist trainers – can cause internal damage to organs as they are pressed together, causing possible rib and nerve damage.
  • Body piercings can have a risk to them if not done properly or cleaned well. According to a Northwestern University study, approximately 20% of body piercings are affected by bacterial infections.
  • Tight clothing such as shapewear for women, skinny jeans, tight belts or athletic compression clothing can be dangerous if worn for long periods of time, increasing the risk for abdominal pain, circulation problems or nerve damage.

If you become uncomfortable in any of these fashion trends, it is recommended to remove the clothing and wear something more comfortable. If you have any questions, talk with your primary care physician.

What is your most uncomfortable piece of clothing that you wear?