Control tops. I never thought I’d wear those again, but then I bought new jeans.

They are the first pair of jeans I’ve had in a few years and I choose these (out of all the rest) because they fit perfectly at both the waist and hip and are even the right length. So naturally I bought 3 pairs (denim, black and white jeans). They also happened to have a special slimming feature around the mid-section (cue ominous music.)

They were a bit snug but my experience with jeans is that they always stretch and the black and white ones did just that, even becoming a bit loose. But the denim ones didn’t. I don’t know why but assume it is a combination of the fabric and the pocket placement which is The Special Slimming Feature.

I am no longer accustomed to having my guts sucked in like that and it hurts! Probably it always did hurt but I must have put up with up it. Maybe I was more accustomed to ignoring the pain signals from my body.

Why it Causes Discomfort

Have you ever thought about where the belly goes when you put on control top hose, jeans or ‘Spanx’? Maybe it is wishful thinking but I think a lot of women think (and marketers would have us believe) that the fat layer is compressed and smoothed, and nothing else. Sadly, that is not the case. If you’ve ever suffered the indignity of  ‘muffin top’ you know that the fat on your belly can suddenly appear above your waist band. The solution is to get even more ‘foundation’ to control that bit of flesh too.

When your belly is sucked in, whether you are sucking in actively or because you are wearing control top pants or underwear, pressure is put not only on your fat layer and abdominal muscles, but the internal organs underneath. (Also see my article Squats vs Kegels.)

If you take a balloon and put just enough air to inflate but not stretch it, and squeeze it in the middle, you’ll see the balloon change shape as the air displaces up and down. That’s what’s happening to your guts when you compress your abdomen.

Internal Pressure Ageless and Well

Space has to be created for them somewhere, right? The displaced intestines shove whatever is below and them, like your bladder and uterus, out of the way. I don’t know if there are any studies to prove it, but my belief is when the organs are compressed in this way they get less blood flow and oxygen and, in a muscle, this can cause pain.

And if that isn’t enough of a concern, that compression continues right on down to the muscle and ligament layer that holds all your abdominal and pelvic internal organs in (as in not falling out of your body) – your pelvic floor. Downward pressure is bad news for your pelvic floor. It is why we pee a little (or a lot) when we laugh or sneeze, and can cause uterine or rectal prolapse. Downward pressure isn’t the only cause of incontinence and prolapse, but it is pretty significant.

All this for a slimmer looking belly? That’s nuts. Who made flat bellies the benchmark anyway? Maybe, by our genetic make up, some bellies are meant to be round, like some people have long waists or red hair.

Listen to your body! Unless you’ve just injured yourself (stubbed your toe or cut your finger) pain isn’t  normal. It is common and therefore appears to be normal but pain is always a signal from your body that something is wrong. And a lot of the time ‘what’s wrong’ is entirely under our influence to change.

All this from a pair of jeans.

So what can you do? For starters, get your pants in a larger size. Forget what the size says on the label says. Be a Belly Freedom Fighter!

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