I Am Woman, Hear Me Write

Squeeze into a Spanx lately? That’s called torture

We all want to look our best, for ourselves, the image we want to project be it at work or a special occasion. But it always amazes me what we girls will go through to do so!

Unless we want to wear a Mumu every day, at some point we have to wear a form-fitting outfit of some description. Yikes! What to do with those extra little love/hate handles, spare tires or otherwise pesky extra calories we refuse to give up?

“Shape wear.” That’s what we resort to, and accordingly it is an industry that is worth $684.9 million a year. Not that this is a new phenomenon — in ancient Greece, shape wear took the form of functional girdles, made out of linen or leather and bound at the waist. In Elizabethan times, iron-framed corsets kept the torso and bust flat. During the 19th and 20th centuries, shape wear was made from a heavy canvas of whale bone or steel to create an extreme hourglass shape. As you can tell, comfort wasn’t exactly the goal, but smoothing, slimming and toning was what was required and attained.

How many of us have attempted the contortions required to don a pair of Spanx?

So how do we go about that smoothing, slimming and toning now? It’s the “evil” Spanx! How many of us have attempted the contortions required to don a pair of Spanx? I personally hide in the closet — plenty of flat surfaces to push against, no mirrors, and I certainly don’t want to know what it looks like as I squeeze myself into what feels like a sausage skin. One of my girlfriends says the only way she can get hers on is with the help of her husband. Talking to others about this brings out hysterical stories of trying to get them on or off in confined spaces!

Just like those little stress balls that you squeeze, the “extra” has to go somewhere, right? Up or down, your choice… for us generously endowed girls, it tends to go where we really don’t need any extra — right up and over the top, giving me what almost feels like an extra chin, or at least a shelf that is quite handy to rest my cocktail on.

Sitting across from the mother of the bride at a recent wedding, I commented on how wonderful she looked. With a gasp she replied, “But I can’t breathe, I’m wearing Spanx!” Now, this woman is extremely petite and the last person on earth you would think would resort to or need shape wear… and SHE was wearing Spanx?

My reply to her: “Take ’em off!” Twenty minutes later, she returned to her seat, wine glass in hand and full of smiles and looking just as fabulous. ”I put them in the trash can…that’s $80 down the drain but ohhhh I feel so much better,” she declared. “And now I can have a glass of wine because I don’t have to worry about going to the bathroom.” The sacrifices we make to smooth, slim and tone!

The problem with these insidious pieces of undergarments is that they really do seem to whisper to you, “Go on, try me – you’ll look gorgeous darling… no one will ever know you had that second donut for breakfast… trust me... I’m sooo comfortable,” and we truly want to believe it. I have vowed to throw out every piece of shape wear that I own. But I just can’t seem to give up the hope that one day they will actually be comfortable and that I’ll be able to make it through an entire evening without wanting to rip them off and be able to breathe again.

The worst thing about shape wear? They make me feel fat. Now I am certainly not the skinniest person you have ever met and yes, I really could do with losing 15 pounds, exercising a little more, eating a little less (but I love cooking and eating!), maybe not pouring that next glass of wine (but I love relaxing with a glass of wine, while cooking!). I need to take personal responsibility for how my body looks and how I feel about it.

Should we really be teaching our daughters to hold themselves to unrealistic images? The story a few months ago about the saleswoman at a certain department store who told a young girl buying a prom dress that she really should wear Spanx under the dress if she wanted to look good just points out the issues that our young girls are dealing with regarding body image, to be skinny or look a certain way. Let’s not teach them to hold themselves to unrealistic standards and instead be healthy and enjoy a healthy love of self.

My Half-Year Resolution is to ditch the Spanx, love myself and, if I want to be less critical of myself — take action to tone and exercise instead of stuffing myself into a spandex sausage skin. So when you see me out and about and my love handles show just a little — it’s because I chose to breathe, to live and to enjoy life and not be trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey. Who will join me?

Amanda Horne, community relations coordinator for the Women's Resource Center of Manatee and board chair at PACE Center for Girls of Manatee, can be reached at amobamanda@gmail.com.

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