teens spanxMen don't understand Spanx. My fiance is no exception. He remarked recently that he doesn't get why it's one of the hottest inventions of our time, because the concept of a girdle has been around forever. That's when I had to explain to him, of course, that yes, for centuries, women have had to/chosen to wear similar underwear to appear more svelte and attractive. Spanx is basically the 21st century version of a girdle.

And just like younger women were expected to wear uncomfortable undergarments around the time they came of age, teens today feel pressured to wiggle into super-constrictive shapewear. Girls as young as 13 say it's a rite of passage -- first, the training bra, then the Spanx. And sadly, the trend is causing slews of health problems for lots of teens

Doctors tell Good Morning America that "the growing bodies of teenagers are vulnerable to the health risks that Spanx impose like bladder infections, gastro-intestinal problems, and nerve damage that can result in numbness and burning in the thighs." Fantastic! 

The fact of the matter is that grown women are also susceptible to the same issues if we wear too-tight Spanx or shapewear too frequently. It's not unusual to find yourself saddled with a scary painful case of reflux at a wedding, thanks to the disastrous combo of acidic cocktails and a way-too-tight bodysuit. Or to get a yeast or bladder infection as a result of wearing one too frequently in the warmer months. But being that teens are even more vulnerable and are more likely to over-wear the offending undergarments, something must be done.

For instance, I love that Real Housewife Jill Zarin has her own new line of shapewear, Skweez, designed with girls in mind. And of course I'm not against wearing them on occasion in the right context (like under a fitted formal dress or on date night), but this trend isn't just about making clothing look more "flattering" or temporarily eliminating a pint-sized muffin top. It's actually about many teens loathing their bodies so much that they're wearing shapewear everywhere they go, every minute of the day.

It's a frightening RED FLAG that these girls are falling prey to seriously skewed ideas of beauty, and we're permitting them to tie up their self-esteem with the smoothing of every lump and bump. When they're literally squeezing themselves to fit an ideal that doesn't exist and hurting themselves in the process, we've got to acknowledge that this is a serious problem. Our daughters shouldn't be relying on shapewear -- or anything else making them ill -- to feel "normal."

Here's GMA's original story on the trend ...

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How do you feel about teens wearing Spanx and other shapewear?


Image via GMA