The Case Against Shapewear

the case against shapewear

There is nothing quite like slipping into the modern corset, thick with spandex, reveling in your sausage like slender waist, and then realizing you must actually remove the thing.

A pro tip from those who know: don’t ever try on shapewear for the first time ALONE. Like other big events like childbirth and breastfeeding, trying on shapewear is an endeavor that needs support and (possibly) breathing tips.

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I keep buying shapewear.

It seems so much easier than…eating better and exercise.

That is, until I must try to breathe and eat while wearing shapewear. My husband is pretty convinced it’s bad for me and is going to give me a hernia of some sort.

I love knit dresses. I really love them. But sometimes, they show my bumps a little more than I like. Truthfully, it really does get harder to eat cookies without consequence the older you get.

It’s one of the cruelties of aging, I’ve decided.

I’m 36 now, so I can only imagine how few carbs I will be able to eat in 10 years…

The horror.

So I bought some serious shapewear. I went to a fancy boutique.

(I’m not even going to comment on the table of “one size fits all” bras in the center of the store. I’ll just say that they look really cute if your C cup breasts still hold themselves up in a fabulous gravity defying manner. Otherwise, keep walking.)

I tried the shapewear on. I took my five-year-old with me for support, intermittent door opening for the public, and of course, shapewear removal emergencies. Just as a public service announcement, if you hear someone saying, “Can you get the vaseline out of my purse,” while shopping for lingerie, they probably aren’t perverts, just shapewear veterans.

the case against shapewear
Never fear. Modern shapewear is much less barbaric. Because we’re liberated.

I picked something out. I took it home. It wasn’t cheap, let me tell you.

I even WORE it on a few occasions.

I thought I would feel prettier and more confident.

You know, because in our modern, advanced, and liberated society, small waists yield self confidence. Did I mention we are liberated? I can even vote, yo.

Rather than self confidence, my cute LuLaRoe dresses (which are normally SUPER comfortable and gorgeous. So addicted.) just felt like they were choking my insides.

And the shapewear totally slid up over and over again which makes two things happen:

  1. I get this really unattractive thing where my shapewear has crept up over my belly button and my muffin top, rather than meekly protruding, is pushed with great force out into the world. Instead of the regular gentle slopes of my postpartum sag, it appears as though I am personally reenacting that famous scene from the first Alien movie where that crazy thing eats it’s way out of that gal’s stomach.
  2. I end up doing this weird and awkward “shapewear dance” which involves me pulling down my shapewear without pulling up the clothes that lie on top of it. I’d videotape it for you, but frankly, I still have some self respect left. Needless to say, if you see another woman doing this strange shimmy while she holds down her skirt, rest assured, she is faking her trim waist.

I made my effort. Now the shapewear hangs in my closet, limp yet firm, mocking me.

Is it worth it to dread each intake of breath so that I can smooth away the skin that grew and stretched, first for babies, and then for the chocolate that inevitably helped me deal with the stress of four children?

Is it really worth it?!

Does it offend others to see that I, or any woman, is imperfect?

Is it really so strange that the vast majority of women don’t look like movie stars on Oscar night?! I’m not as tall as them. I’m not as thin as them. I pretty much hate wearing high heels. And I have never made out with Johnny Depp. (But the night is still young!)

the case against shapewear
I admire this woman. But I don’t look like her nude. Not even a little. Not even with shapewear.

I’m not a movie star and I’m OK with it!

It does make me a little sad that I don’t practice self control the way I should, that I drown my stress in some emotional eating.

But this is who I am.

I’m mom. I’m an employee. I’m a woman trying to make a difference in the world. I have four kids. I don’t sleep enough. I get up early to exercise. And then I eat stuff I shouldn’t to handle the stress of my life.

My body shows all of this and maybe that’s ok.

Maybe I don’t need to try to hide my imperfect body so badly.

I love that book, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. It tells the story of a beautiful young man who has a portrait made of himself. And by some strange twist, rather than him aging and showing the living of his life, the picture does. Because there are no physical consequences for his actions, he lives a more and more selfish and sinful life. His beauty remains and he is trusted and loved because others can’t believe he could be bad, while the portrait gets uglier and uglier, displaying his cankering soul.

It’s possible that the shapewear hanging in my closet is my very own picture of Dorian Gray.

So maybe today, I’ll throw off the chains of my snug, spandex mistress and admit to the world that this is me, bumps and all. Admit that my life, my growth, my babies, and yes, my penchant for cake, has left its mark.

And I’m cool with it.

Muffin tops of the world UNITE!

In other news, I am selling some shapewear. Worn twice. Great deal.

(PS – I have to say, I have nothing but respect for Sara Blakeley, founder of Spanx. They do some awesome stuff and make some good products. Plus, I know how rough it can be to make it as a female. Spanx fills a need. I just choose flab. Except for at weddings.)

Photo credits: din_bastet via / CC BY-SAInternet Archive Book Images via / No known copyright restrictionsfervent-adepte-de-la-mode via / CC BY

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