Skinny Jeans: An Unknown Health Risk

Skinny jeans have been the number one style of jean for most women and even some men for a long time now. They are very fashionable but I think that very few people have serious thoughts about what extremely tight-fitting jeans can do to you when it comes to your health. There was always slight speculation by people, and even TIME Magazine, that just like high heels, skinny jeans are not the best thing to wear if you want to keep the muscles and nerve-endings in your legs healthy.


But,  just recently, three scientists have attempted to confirm with a scientific publication that skinny jeans can be the one to blame when it comes to enlarged muscles and damaged nerve-endings in your legs. However, I have a problem with this study. There was no formal experiment done to fully reject or accept the null hypothesis (that skinny jeans do not cause nerve and muscle damage). Instead, the three scientists got together and focused on one woman’s anecdotal account of how she was wearing skinny jeans when she was helping a family move and this included a lot of squatting in order to pick up boxes and such. This squatting in such tight denim caused numbness in one foot, severe ankle damage, and very enlarged lower calf muscles.

Woman's leg after her jeans were cut off.

Woman’s leg after her jeans were cut off.

Her jeans had to be cut off and the scientists concluded that all of this is due to the skinny jeans she was wearing that night. Although this woman’s story does strongly hint at the fact that skinny jeans are not good for women to wear all the time, it doesn’t completely prove that skinny jeans are the ultimate problem. Why is it that this woman experienced acute leg pain but most other women who wear skinny jeans do not report the same problem? It could be that this woman’s skinny jeans malfunction is due to pre-existing health problems that makes the leg enlarged and causes ankle damage. On Mayo Clinic it was said that some reasons for the inflammation of leg tissue can be due to a problem with the lymphatic system, the circulatory system, or the kidneys. They also said that this inflaming in the legs can be caused by sprained or broken ankles. And while I don’t think this woman’s ankle was broken while she was helping a family move, it could be that her ankle was sprained due to helping in the move and this led to the inflammation of her right leg. There are many confounding variables that could be going on here that these scientists either didn’t account for or didn’t find due to the fact that they conducted an observational study instead of an experiment.17nj5k05kbt21jpg

In short, I don’t think that people should stop wearing skinny jeans based off of this study. There is not enough evidence to support that skinny jeans are bad for your health and lifestyle decisions should not be based off of an anecdotal account. It doesn’t seem to be a widespread phenomenon that skinny jeans are inflicting harm to their wearers. Personally, I never had any problems with wearing my own pair of skinny jeans. In fact, when I heard that skinny jeans were bad for your health through some people here and there, I was very skeptical. Looking further into the issue, I can see that until more research has been conducted, people’s worries are unwarranted. Skinny jeans are just as healthy for you as high heels. And with that being said, it is up to you the health risks that you are willing to take.


4 thoughts on “Skinny Jeans: An Unknown Health Risk

  1. Adam David Mccullough

    This article definitely addresses a major issue in science. The issue being that one anecdote proves nothing. It is easy to see a horrific account and wonder if that same thing could happen to you. However, odds are that it was a complete fluke and will never happen to you. Another interesting thing that the blog made me consider is risk. If your risk in wearing skinny Jeans was death, then maybe it makes sense to stop wearing skinny jeans even if the probability of death is extremely small. However, if the risk of wearing skinny jeans are swollen muscles, the odds that some one will stop wearing skinny jeans after weighing the risks and benefits are extremely small. Here is an interesting study of the effect of risk on decision making.

  2. Rachel Coblentz

    It was very interesting to look at this article after taking SC200. I’ll admit when I first read this article over the summer, it scared me. It didn’t make me stop wearing skinny jeans, but it was something I thought about every time I put jeans on. Now that I am more science educated SC200, I definitely see the faults you pointed out in your blog post. Essentially, this story is just a glorified anecdote like you mentioned. We would never use the example of a 100 year old grandma that smokes every day to say that smoking doesn’t cause cancer, but this is the same evidence these researchers want us to use to say skinny jeans cause harm.

  3. Marcella Santos

    This article is a valid mystery in today’s time and is viewed by many people to not be a problem as girls love them. But as similar as people loved to smoke and there was a correlation to lung cancer, skinny jeans could be the case changing the fashion world entirely. Maybe its true and there aren’t enough studies to prove it but the speculation is there by you and many other scientists. Its hard sometimes to find studies which relay all of the information about it but you did a great job analyzing that the studies you found were hard to analyze therefore a decision couldn’t be made.

  4. Sara Grace Perlowitz

    After reading your article, I agree with pretty much everything you wrote. First, the study is not reliable because it only focused on one woman’s personal experience with her skinny jeans. Second, the reason for her leg damage could have been because she was out of shape and not used to that much activity or that there was a pre-existing issue with her leg. Third, if I knew I was going to be doing a lot of physical activity, I would wear yoga pants instead of tight fitting jeans. If experiments are performed and it appears that skinny jeans are bad for us to be wearing, do you think jeggings and leggings are just as bad? Although I am not too worried about continuing to wear skinny jeans, your article definitely got me thinking.

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