A couple of weeks ago I posted on my Facebook page about how I changed into another outfit before noon. There wasn’t anything wrong with what I had on, except I was uncomfortable. I figured we all had it made when jeans with Lycra in them came out, but now I’ve gone even further, to faux-jeans a.k.a. jeggings. I’ve become that person I said I would never be: the one who lives in pants with elastic waist bands.
(Warning: an “I remember when” moment). I used to live in jeans: the real, non-stretchy ones. The best were ones worn-in just right (usually shortly before they developed holes) and were a good fit to start out with. But now when I try to find a pair of jeans they are too high in the waist or way too low; too tight in the crotch or baggy around the bum; too tight in the leg or too loose.
Finally coming to the conclusion that magic travelling pants don’t in fact exist, I discovered Very Stretchy Jeans That Work – the next best thing. I was aware of faux jeans (Jeggings) and tried them when them came out but they made my legs look like cellulite sausages, and I actually don’t have that much cellulite. But the fabrics have been getting better because I’ve accumulated 3 pairs of these jeans, two of which have elastic waists and the third (somehow) I can pull on and off without undoing them. Charming, I know.
But I haven’t worn either pair since last winter because…I get uncomfortable. Five minutes with them on and I’m overheated. I can’t figure out how I used to be able to wear jeans all summer: is it the Lycra? One of my pairs of jeans are skinny jeans and I’d love to wear them in the summer with my very cute minimal sandals, but it is not to be. I’m doomed to being unfashionable.
And this is all very confusing because in my mind I am a carefree casual person who doesn’t have to put thought into clothes. Except I do. I have to because I have acquired a very low tolerance for restrictive clothing and uncomfortable clothing. Now I am sympathetic to those people I said I’d never become.
It isn’t all in my head either: there is a reason for disliking restrictive clothes. Here’s what I’ve learned: wearing constrictive clothing around your waist (waistbands, belts, shape-wear) and also tight bras, cause a host of health problems. First, is what it does to your organs:
- constrictive clothing can displace your internal organs (upward or downward), much like sucking the belly in and up pushes the abdominal contents out of the way. You can read more about that here,
- your outfit might be constricting the blood flow to your organs which means they get less oxygen, which means your tissues are starved and cells start dying off. And this creates discomfort, even pain,
- the less blood supply you have, the less oxygen your organs get, and as a result you get poor lymphatic drainage. If your lymph is not draining it creates a back up of waste products, which creates more pain.
Secondly, restrictive clothing can also affect how you breathe (shallow), cause nerve damage, give you heartburn (due to stomach being displaced), bladder and vaginal yeast infections (compression undies) and constipation. Equally charming.
I have some theories: I am less tolerant of uncomfortable clothing because I’m healthier and more tuned in to changes in my body. Or, that somehow women’s fashion has become tighter without our noticing (correct waist band sizing used to be if you could fit two fingers between the skin and the fabric it was the right size), or an older population of women are more sensitive to clothing because hormonal changes dilates the blood vessels causing us to overheat and generally feeling like we are suffocating.
Practising Restorative Exercise™ has changed things up for me too: once I became aware that I was sucking in my belly (I can now sense when my organs are being squished and blood supply is being restricted) and how freeing it feels to stop doing it, it does create a fashion moment of feeling ungraceful. But the alternative is walking around with a general sense of unease bordering on anxiety and dealing with pain. And it is all really because of vanity.
Even my fail safe outfits fail sometimes (usually leggings and a long top or dress). Sometimes I get out the door before I realize I feel like I’m wearing a corset and I end up spending the day like that. It is a bad day. You know those days when you come home and the first thing you do is take off your bra and get into PJs? Like that. Because we aren’t the same size or shape from day to day. Some days I am retaining fluid. Some days my muscles are tight and my alignment is off. Like this. And this. I’ve found fold over waist bands generally more forgiving than elastic waists, which can be fine one day and give you a muffin top the next. What’s a body to do?
Develop a sense of humour and go with the flow. And let your belly hang. If it is to be a choice between fashion or killing off my own cells, so-long fashion, hello oxygen.