Triumph for feminism alert! The founder of Spanx is a billionaire at 41! And she’s a woman, which means that whatever you think of cramming your fat arse into some tight beige mesh till you can barely breathe, this is A GOOD THING. High fives all round, sisters!
To celebrate this, this week’s Woman includes a special in which three women who feel crap about their figures (god knows where they found them) get to try out some glorified girdles, sorry, “shapewear” to see if squishing all their wobbly bits together will make them marginally less repulsive. The result is an article so depressing it makes you want to have liposuction on your own brain (does the brain have fat in it? I’ve no idea. But if it does, yours has too much, fatso).
First there’s Lorraine:
When I look in the mirror I feel happy with some but not all of my body. My shapely legs are my saving grace, but I loathe my stomach.
Did you get that? She uses the verb “to loathe”. Pretty extreme, eh? But hey, it’s normal. Nothing a bit of “support underwear” can’t handle.
Then there’s Lindsay:
I’m your typical yo-yo dieter. I’m a size 14-16 and, no matter how well-fitted my underwear is, fat rolls over the top of my knickers and squidges over the sides of my bra.
So, Lindsay, you have learned two things: 1. diets don’t work, and 2. clothes tend to squeeze your body a bit otherwise they fall off, but that makes things bulge out at bit at the edges. Believe me, control underwear will not make (2) any better, and as for (1) – isn’t it about time to say stuff it? (No, says Lindsay: “I’ve dropped a dress size but I still have a long way to go”. Meaning that, at the time the article was written, the yo-yo was on its way down, but right now it could be anywhere).
Then we have Donna, who makes me feel saddest of all:
I don’t like much about my body. While I’m not overweight, my love handles around my belly make me feel very self-conscious – so different from the size 10 I was in my 20s. My body changed when I turned 35. My metabolism slowed down and, suddenly, I couldn’t indulge in pasta and potatoes like I used to.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think about “indulging”, it tends to bring to mind champagne and chocolates, not the kind of foods which posho lifestyle magazines would patronizingly dub “peasant foods”. Donna has got older and her body has changed – big fucking deal. Who told her that the logical response is to no longer eat normal, filling food? I mean, for Christ’s sake, this woman is not even overweight, but she is punishing herself for nothing.
The point isn’t really that these women all feel bad about their own flesh – that, depressingly, is normal. What really hurts is the jolly tone of the article. “Three women discover whether support underwear really does make a difference.” A difference to what? To how shit they feel for NO REASON WHATSOEVER? Of course, they don’t just get some new pants. They also get handy advice like “choose high-waisted styles to avoid the dreaded muffin top”. The dreaded muffin top. I mean, is this where we are right now? We’re seriously talking about the flesh that pops out a bit over the top of waistbands as a source of dread? (Hey, I wonder how that happened…)
Well, anyhow, you shouldn’t really be listening to me, since I do in fact own some Spanx. They do exactly what you’d expect ie make some bits of you thinner by pushing whatever’s in there to somewhere else, where it then pops out unpleasantly and painfully, since obviously it’s not meant to be there in the first place. Moreover, you dread going for a wee because it’s all such a faff to get the things off and on again. And you look marginally flatter overall but not much, and certainly not at the expense of feeling physically crushed (although it depends how much feeling mentally crushed by the pressure to look like someone else is getting to you).
I will say one thing, though: Spanx is a good brand name. Sounds a bit saucy, even though these are the least saucy things you’ll ever (or hopefully never) wear. But I don’t think that’s why Sara Blakely’s a billionaire. That’s entirely down to women feeling like crap.
* Could we just pretend that no one’s ever used that pun before, cos I quite like it?