While we often mention fashion in correlation with confidence and expressing yourself, but we rarely make a connection between fashion and health.
The connection comes as our fashion choices can have an impact on our wellbeing, both negative and positive.
How is this possible?
Do you see fashion as a way of life?
If so, you might understand that fashion is with us every step of the way and it includes more than how we dress.
Fashion has played an important role in our health, particularly within females, throughout history (e.g., remember the story of how during the Victorian era the corsets the women wore affected their spine and lung capacity), and it remains such today.
Intrigued? Let’s talk about the relationship between fashion and health, in all its glory and risks.
Fashion and mental health: the good, the bad, the ugly
Let’s start with the good.
Fashion has a lot to do with empowering women and making them feel good about themselves.
In an article published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, the authors write that there is a symbolic meaning of clothes, both from a personal perspective and from other people.
For example, if you are wearing a suit you will feel more confident about your career? And will people instantly take a more professional stand because you’re in a suit?
If you are dressed in a little black dress you’ll feel sexy and elegant, will you be approached as such?
On the other hand, we have the socio-cultural attitude toward appearance which is often derived from magazines and can have an effect on body dissatisfaction.
As a consequence, we have an interrelationship of negative body image perception and depression, which can result in susceptibility to eating disorders, a common problem in the fashion industry.
The thorny road to size zero
The Council of Fashion Designers of America reacted to the “overwhelming concern about whether some models are unhealthily thin.”
They called for increasing awareness about eating disorder symptoms and decided to send a powerful message on fashion shows where they’ll not choose size zero models.
Still, the war has just begun and this is only the first battle.
Many women, even teenagers, look up to super skinny models and find it hard to embrace their body figures. That’s why they turn to unhealthy fad diets and “miracle” weight-loss products.
While some of these diets and magic pills can get you to lose weight fast, the pounds come back even faster, and with health consequences as a side dish.
Many of the women and men who turn to such ways for losing weight fail to understand that the best way to get to healthy appearance (not size zero) is to stick to a balanced diet and exercise.
You can use natural supplements, teas, and so-called superfoods for effective weight loss management and optimal muscle gain if that is your goal.
How what you wear can hurt you and why it shouldn’t?
Don’t believe when someone tells you that fashion can’t be comfortable.
Just remember that a nice and body-fitting LBD can be made out of cashmere and can caress your skin instead of harming it.
Here are some things we consider standard in fashion but hurt our health:
Skinny jeans: You may love your butt-squeezing, thigh-hugging denim, but did you know it can lead to yeast infections and nerve impairment? So, next time, opt for looser yet breathable jeans that can still look sexy but won’t cause discomfort and health issues.
High heels: A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that women who frequently wear high heels are at risk of developing permanent damage to their hips, back, and knees. Don’t believe us? Just remember how many times you have complained of lower back pain, after wearing high heels for a short period of time. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should give up on wearing heels. Just find the supportive models and always keep a pair of flats with you, in case you feel discomfort.
Hair color: Balayage, ombre, red hair… All of these trends can make your hair look fantastic but only if you use hair dyes free of harmful chemicals.
Makeup: It is the same as with the hair dye, makeup is a woman’s best friend, but some of the products contain toxic ingredients which enter your organism through your skin. Fortunately, these days there are so many organic options that this doesn’t even have to be a concern.
Finally, fashion can affect our health indirectly as fashion products, including clothes and makeup, have an impact on our soil, air and water quality.
For example, if cotton is needed to produce clothing, it is most likely grown with the use of pesticides – this pollutes the soil and causes harm to the entire environment. In return, this production process causes harm to the health of the entire population.
Hence the major move towards sustainability in fashion and we hope that soon all fashion will become environmentally friendly. For more on the sustainability movement, click here.
Caitlin is a bookworm and recreational dancer. She is also a medical student in love with science in all its forms. Her fields of expertise could be summed up in psychology, health, wellness, and lifestyle-related topics. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and the Universe, Caitlin enjoys researching and writing for various awesome blogs. She is happily addicted to art, grilled tofu, and hiking. To see what Caitlin is up to next, check out her Twitter dashboard.