Whenever I leave the house in a dress, there’s always a faja underneath it. Faja is the spanish word for corset, but nowadays people refer to it as “shapewear”. What differentiates a good faja from the shapewear you may find in the department store, is that it’s constructed to contour your body as you’re wearing it and not only is it made from spandex, but also rubber as well. Its corset like structure and material doesn’t allow for one bulge or lump under your clothing. Some people even exercise in them to assure perfect contouring and fat burning. Unlike it’s more known counterparts, like Spanx, fajas aren’t for everybody because of the constricting feeling, and it’s definitely something you have to learn to get used to.

Shapewear was developed with grown women in mind, but unfortunately it has become popular amongst teenagers as well. Many teens are wearing these garments on a daily basis and playing sports in them. Good Morning America recently sat down with a group of lacrosse players from Peekskill, N.Y., to discuss the growing trend. The girls ranged from 13 to 17 and are enamoured with the fact that the “spankies” hold their stomachs in and allow them not to feel body-conscious. “I wear them under everything, even to school,” said 17-year-old Melissa Wagner, of the shorts, which work like Spanx. “You don’t want people to see you have a muffin top.” I guess times have changed. When I was 17 and an athlete, a muffin top was not on my list of worries.

Jill Zarin, a former cast member on the Bravo reality show “The Real Housewives of New York” who also owns her own line of shapewear, has found a new market to cater to. Her new line of teen shapewear, called Skweez Couture, is specifically designed with the teen population in mind. The pieces include bustiers and lace biker shorts in colors that are appealing to teens, and all made out of spandex. “They have been selling like wildfire. I can’t keep them in stock,” she said of the line’s pieces, which Zarin says has something for everyone. “Nobody wants to see anybody’s body parts rippling. It’s just not attractive.”

But these products may cause health risks for teens. The idea of teens wearing shapewear concerns some in the medical field. Dr. Orly Avitzur, is a practicing neurologist and medical adviser to Consumer Reports. “You are just squeezing the body too much so you are placing either direct pressure onto a nerve or squeezing internal organs,” she told Good Morning America. “The tighter the fabric is or the more uncomfortable it is, the more likely you are to suffer damage.” Avitzur has treated teens for shapewear-related problems ranging from bladder infections, gastrointestinal problems and nerve damage that includes symptoms of numbness and burning in the thighs.

Not only can shapewear in teens cause physical health risks, there are psychological issues that arise as well. “The damage is eating disorders,” said Dr. Hallowell, the founder of the Hallowell Centers in New York City and Sudbury, Mass. “The damage is never being happy with your body well into adulthood.”

As a woman who lives by shapewear, I can attest to the lack of comfortability that some may have. But since my body is far beyond the teens years, I have never experienced any of the issues noted by Dr. Avitzur. Do I wear shapewear because I’m self-conscious about certain aspects of my body and it made my clothes look better? I’d be lying if I said no. But if I had a teen daughter, I would not condone the use of one.

Do you think shapewear should be marketed to teens?

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  • Echi

    This is kind of similar to the argument that tight pants cause men to be infertile. People have been wearing tight pants, shapewear like contraptions for centuries, and I have yet to be convinced that their harmful or worth starting a public campaign over.
    Yeah, I didn’t wear shapewear as a teen and I don’t wear it now….yet. I don’t mind it, and I think I may consider it later. If I had a teenage daughter – probably not, not for health reasons, but rather because I think it would look too “grown” on her. She need not to worry about her “shape” but rather how to be physically active and do well in school. But that’s how I feel about makeup and fake nails on teenagers anyway.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    Tight garments blocks the flow of lymphatic fluid. Some feel this is the reason why brazier wearing western women develop breast cancer at a significant higher rate than women in cultures who don’t wear bras.

  • T.

    Comfortability? The word is comfort.