Shun body-hugging blouses, endlessly-high heels, tent-like totes, cheap shades and metallic accessories. Being in good shape is more important than being ‘in'
“A mother came to see me about her daughter,” says Raji Venkatesh, specialist in women's ailments. “The mother suspected that the daughter, an undergraduate student, was anorexic, and was worried about the girl's dipping academic performance.” The daughter met the doctor a month later, and opened up, when she found the doctor willing to listen. Turned out she was in a crowd that worshipped “thin”. “She said she wasn't hungry, and needed a reason to eat,” says Dr. Raji. “I prescribed a fruit / veggie placebo. She's now met 60 per cent of her diet needs.”
Fashion makes demands, but danger lurks behind many of them. “An anorexic diet is dangerous,” says Chandra Swaminathan, nutrition expert. “Body muscles need adequate protein. Without them, you reduce body function that results in fatigue.” Any extreme behaviour for slimming will lead to depression, says Dr. Raji.
Fashion consciousness is one thing, but obsession? Some teens eat just spoonfuls; some cut down on the intake; others start an eat-throw up cycle. Lack of balanced nutrition affects concentration. A gnawing stomach hinders ability to plot a graph, write an analytical essay, remember dates in history.
Bulimia is an extreme case. There are other everyday ways in which we chisel away our health, following fashion dictates. Do you carry a heavily-stuffed huge tote bag? Then, you're also lugging a sure way to aching back and shoulders. Physiotherapists suggest that you switch to a backpack to spread the weight. Won't give up the tote? Shift it between shoulders.
If you walk in those high heels, you invite a different set of troubles. “At a fashion show, I watched in alarm as a model in high heels and a clumsily-worn sari almost trip over,” says Kamala Selvaraj, gynaecologist. “High-heeled footwear could lead to severe backache. We have not evolved to walk in that odd toe-down-heel-up position.”
Stilettos are bad for calf muscles, says Dr. Raji. “The lower leg is richly supplied with blood vessels. Constant pressure here may lead to blood clotting and deep-vein-thrombosis.” And, puts undue stress on lumbar bones, says Chandra. Add abnormal gait, osteoarthritis and knee-joint stress — your fashionable heels are a mound of potential trouble. Sensible shoe heels (an-inch thick) will suffice. Can't say no to heels? Kick them off as often as you can.
With body-hug jeans, problems come in pairs. “Avoid wearing anything tight,” warns Dr. Kamala Selvaraj. “The vascular system is likely to get affected. Doesn't a tight skirt leave dark marks on the skin?”
How can the skin breathe, asks Chandra. “With zilch air circulation, sweat stagnates,” says Dr. Raji. “Non-absorbent materials such as lycra lead to skin infection.” She says tight clothes can cause rashes on sensitive skin.
Look at what some “cool” accessories can do to you. Cheap pairs of glares — aviators, windows or retros — will give you headache, nausea and dizziness.
And, good luck with metal jewellery. People have complained of painful allergic reactions (mild rash to major choking) due to unidentifiable metals in chains, pendants, earrings, bangles and bracelets. Stick to silver, gold or stainless steel if you're allergy-prone.
Allergy can also be caused by nail polish, leather belts, straps, thongs, in hair colours and make-up ingredients. And, how clean are those tattoo needles?
Any genuine stylist will ask you not to ape a trend, but to choose what sits well on you. It's a double whammy, really — you wear something that's gross, and get harmed. That's not what you bargain for when you go fashion shopping.
Play it safe
Check all hair and skin products before using them
Buy footwear that suit your foot shape
An accessory hurts? Give it upGEETA PADMANABHAN