One body-positive model wants you to stop sacrificing your comfort for the sake of too-tight shapewear. KhrystyAna, a San Francisco-based model, actress, writer, and Instagram star, recently took to social media to share a series of photos with her followers. The images show what her body looked like after she’d worn clothing that was uncomfortably tight. In her caption, she tore apart the social norms that pressure women into looking perfect—especially when it’s at the expense of their own well-being.
“Oh, how we love our shapers, our tight jeans, [our] bras that…only suffocate our natural form,” KhrystyAna wrote in her Instagram caption. “Oh, how we love a little pain here and there—waxing, tweezing, tanning/burning, bleaching, scrubbing—that’s fine. Nothing against what we want. But tell me, woman, is that what you really truly want?”
KhrystyAna included a picture of her legs, which she said were blue from circulation loss after wearing shapewear for just a few hours. “How do you like the reality of impeded blood circulation, infertility, digestive problems, nerve damage, and more?” she wrote. She pointed out the scars on her feet, explaining they came from stilettos that dug into her heels. “I bled,” she wrote. “But BOY, MY FEET LOOKED SEXY THAT ONE DAY!”
The model continued by explaining that everyone should just do what they want. If you don’t want to wear uncomfortable or constricting clothing, you shouldn’t feel pressured to. And if you like wearing high heels or shapewear, you should keep wearing them. “Just please take the responsibility of what your poor lovely body will potentially experience,” she wrote. “Is your body not the most magnificent fascinating universe that could use your compassion? Do you really want to stop your blood circulation now with those tight shapers to become [society]’s dream?”
Hilary Hawkins, M.D., a physician at Orlando Health, tells SELF that tight clothing can cause problems—but not necessarily the ones KhrystyAna is talking about. For one thing, tight pants can increase your chances of getting vaginosis or a yeast infection, because they trap moisture in and give your skin little room to breathe. While KhrystyAna didn’t touch on this side effect, Hawkins says it’s one of the most common consequences her patients encounter when wearing constricting clothing. Another problem she sees a lot? Patients’ legs and thighs getting chafed from tight pants.
Hawkins explains that most of the issues patients get from too-tight shapewear are temporary—not long-term. She’s never seen any patients with nerve damage resulting from tight clothing, and she encourages her patients to stop wearing anything that’s restricting their blood flow. “The general rule of thumb is: If you try something on in the dressing room and it feels tight but not uncomfortably tight—not ‘sucked in to the point of discomfort’ tight—it’s probably OK,” Hawkins tells SELF. “If you find that you’re wearing it and you’re turning blue, take it off. It’s way too tight.” Your legs may get tingly and cold, but Hawkins says she doubts anyone will keep something that uncomfortable on long enough to cause serious harm.
And yes, shapewear can impact your digestive system—but only temporarily. “You need room to move things through,” she says. If you’re wearing something that’s so tight “you feel like your stomach and intestines are being pushed back,” your body might not have the room it needs to move the food through—in other words, to digest and process it. Still, this won’t make a long-term difference. Hawkins says it’ll likely lead to a bit of abdominal discomfort, at worst.
Moral of the story? Shapewear can cause problems, but only temporary ones. Wearing too-tight clothing can increase your risk of yeast and vaginal infections, lead to chafing, temporarily cut off your circulation, and cause abdominal discomfort. But Hawkins says those long-term consequences KhrystyAna mentions—like nerve damage and infertility—are highly unlikely, as she’s never encountered them in her practice.
The question KhrystyAna posed in her Instagram—and Hawkins repeated in our interview—is simple: If something is making you this uncomfortable, why are you doing it? “If something is making you miserable, take it off,” Hawkins says. “‘Why are we doing this to our bodies?’ is a good question to ask.”
See KhrystyAna’s Instagram post in full below.
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