Saturday, December 15, 2012

Women's Fashion and Pain

Problems with Clothing
One of the most ridiculous/silly inconveniences from having endometriosis and gut issues is my restrictions for clothing. Yes, even getting dressed in the morning can be a stressful experience! Not only because of standard internal mishaps that anyone can experience (e.g., bloating from a period so jeans are too tight, gut pain from a bad meal), but there are also many additional, illness related problems that can make certain clothes off limits at times.

My endometriosis pains are largely in my lower abdominopelvic quadrants (i.e., below the belly button). I have scarring and nerve damage in the area as well. Sometimes that pain and inflammation makes wearing slacks/jeans impossible. The tight stiff bands, as well as the increased tension from fastening buttons, can make for a horrendously painful experience! Pants that ride higher are also off limits, due to gastric issues. Above my belly button, any tightness around my waist can cause acid reflux and irritate ulceration damage from IBD. What's a girl to do?

The Value of Casual Dress and Self Care
I personally attach getting dressed with self care. It is a gift I give to myself and my mental well-being. Even casual wear has value in being a regular ritual and sign to ourselves (and others) that we care for our body. In my own life, wearing pajamas or sweats 24/7 is not an option; especially at work or when out on the town. Not to mention, I like to avoid awkward moments such as when my 95-year old grandmother commented on my getting dressed as if I were heading to my prom. I had been home sick for a while, and was seldom wearing clothes other than pajamas due to pain. However, one day I put on athletic shorts and a t-shirt. She was so impressed by my being dressed that she gave me the genuine, well intended compliment of, "wow, you look nice today, did you get dressed up!?"... thanks Grandma.

A Guide for Dressing Around the Pain
So... where is that balance? How can a gal look cute but be comfortable, and help disguise the fact that her insides are tender, swollen, and miserable? I did some digging around, asked other women who experienced some of the same issues, and these are some suggestions that I came up with. I hope you find it helpful and interesting--feel free to add and make this a better list!!!

--> Leggings, Leggings, Leggings!!!           
  • This particular fashion trend has pretty much been my saving grace. Leggings are made of knit fabrics, so they're stretchy and non-restrictive. They come in fun patterns and colors and are cute and fashionable. You can dress them up or dress them down. You can wear them with long shirts/short dresses for a more modest/mature look, or rock it with a causal tee or top. Best of all, you can keep cute all while keeping the comfort of pajamas! 
--> Comfy Dresses
  • My whole life I have been a fairly big tomboy. As a child, I actually cried over having to wear dresses to church and thought they were the silliest things to wear. Now, as an 'adult', I have to admit that, while I am a tomboy in actions, in dress I am a frilly girl. I love dresses. They can be well fitted and meant to impress, but they can also be relaxed, comfortable, and still flattering. Skirts can be wonderful too, but some days I just need something flowing over me and nothing pinching. Dresses are perfect for days where a lady cannot handle something against her stomach. And, of course, they are always in fashion and come in many varieties. Best of all, I have always found it easy to find cute/flattering dresses at local thrift stores. I've got at least ten dresses for less than $5 each, and I always get compliments on them. I think its because dresses are more about how they fit 'you', and not so much about the newest/most expensive/trendiest types. So try and find something that fits your style and your mean body! 
--> Yoga Pants
  • The yoga pant craze that has swept the country/world has been an awesome benefit for many reasons. First off, properly sized/fitted yoga pants are incredibly comfortable and do not constrict the abdomen/pinch anywhere. There bands tend to be wide, which helps to distribute the pressure across the waist and a tender belly. But there is more than that. They are relatively cheap, they are all the comfort of sweat pants without the negative perceptions, and they are incredibly flattering of a woman's body. On top of that, any age group can wear them and still look fabulous. And, compared to leggings, they tend to be a little less form fitting (which can be better for certain situations/settings). Whether I'm bloated or in pain, these babies are perfect. 

--> Pajama Jeans
  • I will admit that I have never tried these things, so I cannot personally say what they are like. However, I have had these recommended to me by other women, and they think they're amazing. They give the appearance of real jeans while fitting more loose and have 'pajama' fabric. I would love to give them a try for curiosity's and comfort's sake. My advice is to remember that these run small (size-wise) and make sure to wash them inside out.
--> Loose Underwear
  • Sometimes a woman can attribute pain to tightness of her pants when, in fact, at least part of it could be coming from the underwear she wears. This might sound silly, but after I first became suspicious of my fitted panties for causing problems, I tried some different options. I was surprised to find that what I wore under my pants had a real effect. I have changed the kind of undergarments I buy (staying away from tougher bands and aiming for stretchier/higher quality fabrics). Remember to stick with cotton, avoid bands that cling tightly, and to get the proper size. What does this have to do with fashion? Well, I personally like having cute underwear and try not to buy 'old lady garments' or 'parachute panties'. There are plenty of fashionable/comfortable bikini/thong styles out there, but remember not to get them tight or stiff, and always buy the right size. 

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Contact me at bedhead@bedriddenhead.com

About The BedRiddenHead

I want to be happy. And this site is about that chance. How to strive to thrive in the body I've got and maybe turn my experiences into something worthwhile.

This site aims to help educate and reach out to people all over that struggle with pain or illness. To try and make something helpful. I work as a medical research writer, my background is in neuropsychology and biology, and I want to share what I learn in a way that is easy to understand. I am not a doctor. I'm definitely not your doctor. I am just some lady who wants to make someone's (anyone's) life a little bit better. Whether you have endometriosis, a chronic injury, a struggling friend, or just want to learn something new, I hope to make a place that has what you are looking for.

Thank you for stopping by, I wish you strength in your health and happiness.