Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Guest post: when style turns nasty

Turn of the century workers: boots of death (Pic: Kathleen Potter)
The last thing we think about when it comes to styling ourselves are the health risks, but as guest poster Eric Stevenson points out, fashion can be painful.
Polyester: combustible

Ever hear of fashion risks? People dive into the craziest trends, eyes closed, head first. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn't. It's all up to your fashion sense, your guts, and your timing. But fashion can damage more than your reputation. It can be seriously dangerous. Did you know that fashion can literally kill you? It's possible, and it happened all the time.

Back in the day (the Fifties), lots of clothing, especially kids clothes, were really, really flammable. We're talking
brushed rayon sweaters , cowboy chaps, and even pyjamas. Scary, right? These days there are laws to keep people from igniting every time they get too close to any kind of heat. Back then, kids and others who followed these fashion trends would actually catch on fire. If that's not risky fashion, what is?

Maybe this. Did you know people can get cancer from clothes? Yep.
Mesothelioma. Deadly. As recently as the Seventies people wore their work boots to factories and construction sites. Those old triple stitch, steel toes carried asbestos (which lead to Mesothelioma Symptoms ). The workers inhaled, and within 50 years they were dead. Even if the boots were washed, asbestos could still get in the air and into lungs. Talk about dangerous.

As well as spontaneously combusting or contracting lung cancer, people could lose their minds. Fashion could do that. Ever heard anyone say
"Mad as a hatter”? The phrase has more to it than Alice and Wonderland lets on. In the past, hat makers used mercury in their pelts. The poor hat makers inhaled the stuff and that was it. Their neurological stability went out the door. Mercury can make you crazy, and with too much in the air, it could kill you. In the 1800s hat makers walked the streets incoherent and blubbering, just so ladies and gentleman could keep up with latest trends. Sacrifice for fashion? I think so.

So what does this have to with now? If you're a retro fanatic, if you love throwback sweaters, hats, and boots, watch your back ... and your lungs ... and your brain. Flammability, asbestos, and mercury may have been involved with the making of those old accessories and tops. Don't be fooled. Fashion can be deadly dangerous.

Fifties leisurewear: unsuitable for digging roads (Pic: Ed Woods)

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