Spanx Will Not Save The World


First, I know that I’m treading on dangerous ground here as I have friends who swear by their Spanx. As always this blog is all about me in general, and today it’s specifically about my experience with Spanx. I’m not trying to tell anyone else how to live. If you wear Spanx, that is awesome and I fully support you. Are we good? Excellent, let’s continue:

I don’t really wear shapewear. I think my body’s shape is fine, and I highly value the ability to have full range of motion, and to take full deep breaths. When I am dancing, I sometimes wear shapewear-esque stuff because I have a very long torso and my shirt will rise up and bare midriff is a penalty. The things I wear for this are purposefully a size larger than I normally wear and offer coverage only –- no compression.

For a routine that my cabaret group did this weekend, we wore skin-tight cropped pants and our leader asked us to wear shapewear. Thus began my first date with Spanx. I went by the height/weight chart on the back panel and selected something called Higher Power.

First of all, I broke a sweat trying to get them on, and think I pulled something I’ll need in later life. At first they felt like jeans that are out of the dryer and I was just waiting for them to stretch out. One of the girls on my team burst that bubble. So, with my range of motion and ability to breathe compromised I went off to the show.

Today as I was cleaning up I found the package that my medieval torture device Spanx came in. And I got irritated all over again.

It says “Spanx started with $5000 and a dream –- to make the world a better place…one butt at a time!”

Big fat fail over here — my world is a better place when I can freaking breathe. My world is a better place when someone is not trying to convince me that making myself into a human sausage will make the world a better place.

Then I saw the picture on the back:

Are you kidding me with this crap?

Cook a meal: If you happen to be cooking me a meal in the hopes that it will get you laid…congratulations you’ve got an excellent strategy there. If after that meal we find ourselves naked, and your body is suddenly a different size and shape than it was a minute ago, I’m going to think that’s weird and it will probably kill the mood. Just sayin’.

Put Out a Fire: First of all, I hate to nitpick (ok, no I don’t) but the girl in the high heels and compression undergarments is not putting out a fire –- she is defying gravity and any modicum of ladder safety in her snazzy underpants, leaving the fire raging behind her. Second, I have to wonder how female firefighters feel about this portrayal. Third, I think I might rather fend for myself than deal with a rescue attempt by someone whose attention is on whether or not she has a muffin top.

Win a Race: This one really kills me (and not just because this woman appears to be running in high heels without a bra on, beating people with the wost running form I’ve ever seen, and has been awarded her medal WHILE breaking the tape at the finish line): it turns out that doctors are having to tell teen athletes to stop wearing Spanx because tight garments can cause pain and numbness in the thigh if they squeeze the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which runs down the abdomen just below the hipbone. This article is from “Shots” which is the health blog for NPR.

Unfortunately the last line says “Shot’s Advice: Kids, leave the Spandex to us middle-aged women, who really need it.” I’m calling bullshit. First because we all have a lateral femoral cutaneous nerve –- it doesn’t go away after our teen years so adult women are at the same risk. More importantly, I’m going to say that nobody NEEDS Spanx, and I think that a health blog telling middle-aged women that they need Spanx is disgusting. And the fact that the author included herself doesn’t make that better. I’m curious if they got paid for that endorsement. (For a really interesting ancillary article about the differences between uniforms of male and female athletes, check this out.)

If you want to wear Spanx, then awesome –- rock those bitches. But don’t try to make it an issue of my self-esteem by attempting to convince me that I will somehow be better or, even more ludicrously, make the WORLD a better place if I use super-tight underwear to temporarily change the size and shape of my body. You can sell a false sense of self-esteem somewhere else, I’m all stocked up with the real stuff here.

This post originally appeared on Dances With Fat. Republished with permission.

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