Back in my modeling, pre-nutritionist days, I was exposed to countless dangerous beauty and weight control tactics—from disordered eating habits to attempting to sweat off pounds by wearing plastic bodysuits at the gym. While they aren’t always as obvious, these practices aren’t limited to the fashion world. I see them routinely in everyday life, and so, most likely, do you. Many of the most dangerous seem innocent. And the more common they become, the more people embrace them as normal, healthy and worth any adverse consequence.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching the evening news when a story about face slapping as an “anti-aging” technique aired. What bothered me even more than the the “experts” touting face smacking as a useful way to minimize wrinkles was the fact that the story focused on whether or not the practice is effective—with no mention of the risks or what it says about our culture that people will pay someone to instill pain in an attempt to, essentially, kill the aging process. I can only imagine how many young girls caught the episode and considered a self-smacking makeover.
I could probably spend the rest of my life writing and talking on the air about risky beauty trends without a lack of material. Here are just a handful of the latest biggies. (For more on these and others, listen to my show on the topic using the link below.)
Following a restrictive “lifestyle plan”
Now that most folks realize that dieting doesn’t work, fewer report partaking in recent years. But the savvy marketing world found a loophole to dieting’s popularity loss. Makers of many harmful diets now call their regimes “healthy lifestyle plans.” (“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!” How often have you heard that?) Very few truly are. If a plan keeps you from leading a healthy balanced, flexible dietary life, it’s a diet—particularly if it heavily restricts calories, carbs or other nutrients.
Taking risky supplements
While many valuable dietary supplements exist, countless more promise unproven results, contain risky ingredients and pose potentially serious health risks. Just because a supplement contains natural ingredients—or claims to—doesn’t mean it’s safe or healthy. Mega-dose and weight loss supplements are particularly risky. (I explored this one pretty extensively on my show.)
Hair straightening and blow-outs using formaldehyde
There’s no way to know how much formaldehyde (aka embalming fluid) these treatments contain. Considered a “probable human carcinogen” by the Environmental Protection Agency, formaldehyde could contribute known to cancer risks, while irritating your lungs and eyes. “Formaldehyde has been shown to cause mutations in cellular DNA,” dermatologist Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, MD, a professor at Yale School of Medicine told Women’sHealth, “and some may be absorbed through the scalp during the hair treatment.”
This corset-training technique praised by Kim Kardashian all over social media is more than a waste of time and money. It can interfere with breathing, digestion, your self-image, emotional health and more. And partaking won’t merely hurt you. By engaging you contribute to the false notion that teeny tiny waists are ideal.
To learn more about these and other risky beauty tactics, check out my recent Girl Boner Radio episode here:
Risky Diet and Beauty Trends via iTunes
For more myth-debunking, check out my very first Huffington Post piece, 3 Myths About Female Sexuality — And Why We Keep Believing Them. I’m so stoked and grateful for this new opportunity.
Which beauty trend here or on my show most struck you? Is there one you’d like me to explore? I love hearing from you!