The soaring demand for 'spankies', or shapewear for teenagers… But just how much damage is the trend doing to young bodies and minds
20:14 GMT, 3 August 2012
Any A-lister will testify to the fact that Spanx shapewear is de rigueur under a designer dress on the red carpet.
In a worrying new trend, however, it seems tweens and teenagers are following suit, wearing garments they are calling 'spankies' to slim their bodies and hide muffin-tops.
The brightly-coloured spandex shorts, which young girls are wearing under everything from jeans to sportswear, are proving a lucrative new addition to the shapewear market.
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Shapewear for teenagers: Young girls have embraced a worrying new trend for spandex shorts called 'spankies' to help slim their bodies and hide muffin-tops
But doctors and child psychologists have voiced their concern over the products, and say girls are putting themselves at risk of a host of problems.
Consumer Reports medical advisor Dr Orly Avitzur told Good Morning America that she has treated girls as young as 15 for shapewear-related issues including bladder infections, gastro-intestinal problems and nerve damage.
She said: 'You just are squeezing the body too much, so you are either
placing direct pressure on a nerve or squeezing the internal organs.'
New normal: For many young girls, wearing spankies is as integral a part of their daily outfit as a training bra
Child psychiatrist Dr Ned Hallowell,
added that teenagers indulging in the shapewear trend could be more
prone to a host of psychiatric problems.
'The damage is eating disorders, the damage is never being happy with your body image well into adulthood,' he explained.
Teenage girls themselves, though, are
unlikely to be swayed by such concerns. A group of 13-17-year-olds from
Peekskill, New York, admitted that they wear them everywhere.
'Compression with expression': The bright patterned colourways of spankies appeal to the tween market
Lindsey Luposello, 17, told the show: 'You've got the training bra and then the Spanx. Everyone wears them.'
Risk factor: Spanx shapewear is de rigueur for celebrities on the red carpet… But is it safe for teenagers
Melissa Wagner, also 17, admitted: 'I wear them under everything. Even to school, under sportswear, I always wear them under jeans – you don't really want to see that you have a muffin top.'
Another youngster added: 'Muffin tops are bad because they're just unflattering and it makes you stand put for the wrong reasons.'
Even the slimmest girls feel the need to wear spankies, Stephanie
Wagner, 17, revealed.
'More and more of the skinnier girls, they think that
they're bigger than they are,' she said. 'They think that they have to hide
And the fact that the restrictive garments can be uncomfortable is of little concern.
'When you feel the pain, you're like, “Oh it doesn't matter for now, I
just look good and that's what matters the most right now,”' another young girl admitted.
Real Housewife of New York Jill Zarin is among those to cash in on the teenage demand for shapewear.
by her daughter, Ally Shapiro, 19, who has been wearing slimming
undergarments since the age of 13, she launched Skweez Couture, targeted
at the younger market.
'It's been selling like wildfire. We can't keep them in stock,' she revealed.
Cashing in: Former Real Housewife Jill Zarin is behind the Skweez Couture shapewear line for teens
'Nobody wants to see anybody's body parts rippling. it's just not attractive,' she continued. 'What I think shapewear does is kind of normalizes the girls' body figures and evens everybody out.'
As for the doctors' various concerns about the use of slimming undergarments among teenagers, shapewear megabrand Spanx insists it has never come across any such shapewear-induced medical complaints.
In a statement issued to GMA, it said: 'Our mission is to help women feel great about themselves and their
potential… Regarding those medical issues for teens using [our]
products, in twelve years of selling shapewear, we've never had this