Hurting for fashion: The high cost of today’s trends

WASHINGTON – Some of the trendiest fashion items around are also the most dangerous.

Skinny jeans, high heels and huge handbags: it’s the uniform of choice for many celebrities and the young women who see them as style icons.

But similar to sun exposure, which can lead to wrinkles years later, these fashion crazes give way to big physical problems decades down the road.


Dr. Sepideh Haghpanah with MedStar National Rehabilitation Network in Bethesda, Md., says stiletto heels pose the biggest problem.

Haghpanah says they do far more than just “hurt” the feet. Stilettos alter the body’s center of gravity, pushing the pelvis forward and the torso back.


Stilettos alter the body’s center of gravity, causing accumulating stress over time. (Getty Images)

The result is accumulating stress on the joints of the feet, knees, hips and spine.

But don’t reach for the flats, thinking they are the solution.

Ballet flats and flip-flops are not a good alternative because they offer no support, Haghpanah says. Heels less than two inches high are generally preferable, and anything higher should be worn for no longer than a few hours at a time.

Heavy Bags


Heavy bags throw off the body’s alignment. (Getty Images)

What happens when you hang a heavy handbag on top of high heels? The result is a prescription for trouble.

“You see it every day — people with heavy bags on one side,” says Haghpanah.

But hanging a heavy bag on one side throws off the body’s alignment.

“[It] makes an asymmetry, an imbalance between the two sides of the body,” she says.

The resulting imbalance puts a lot of stress on the shoulders, neck and upper back. Haghpanah says the imbalance has even been known to lead to headaches.

A cross-body bag is the best choice for a purse, because it distributes the weight evenly on the upper body, according to Haghpanah.

Skinny Jeans


Skinny jeans can put pressure on the nerves. (Getty Images)

When it comes to the lower body, a big problem is the impact of super-skinny jeans. Tight clothing has long been linked to stomach distress and yeast infections in women.

But what is not commonly known about skinny jeans is that the style also puts a lot of pressure on nerves running from the pelvis to the upper thigh.

“As a result of that, you might have pain, numbness and other problems in this part of the body,” says Haghpanah.

And like wearing stilettos or carrying heavy handbags, the impact is cumulative.

To prevent trouble, step away from some of these trendy items, or at least limit wearing time.

And if you just can’t give up those Manolo Blahniks or that oversized Michael Kors bag, be sure to exercise, pay attention to your posture and watch out for danger signs.

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