When I was young, watching my mother put on a girdle was a source of high comedy for my sister and me. She’d wriggle and tug, and hop and strain, and do a suburban matron’s version of a hoochie dance. We’d giggle and she’d scold us in between tugs. “Just….wait….until….you’re….old….enough…and…have to…wear…one of…THESE!.. It’s….not….FUNNY!”
Every woman wore girdles back then, at least if they didn’t want to “jiggle” and risk being branded a Harlot. I swore I would never wear a girdle, and the times granted my wish; by the time I hit my teen years in the early 70’s, girdles were pretty much an anachronism. Bras too were considered by many of my peers to be something only the Patricia Nixons of the world wore, but I’d developed early and fast, and wearing a bra was more comfortable than not for me. (By the time I was in my 20’s, I was an underwire gal all the way.)
But I did avoid the Girdle Dance.
Fast forward about 35 years, and une femme has been noticing that even the lined trousers are looking a bit, well…lumpy. Were those panty lines always there? Those saddlebags? I’ve had to accept that I’m getting a bit squishier with age, even if my size remains the same.
I still have the same aversion to the idea of a girdle, but I’d been hearing rave reviews about Spanx and decided to give them a try. I’m a convert. These babies work miracles and do wonders for une femme’s body image, yet are comfortable and don’t dig or bind. (My suggestion for maximum comfort: buy one size bigger than the chart says you need.) I’ve tried both the regular “Power Panties” and also the “Higher Power” which goes all the way up to the bra, and is fabulous under clingy knits. And you only have to dance just a little bit to get them on. 😉
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  1. citizen spot
    September 14, 2007 / 4:53 am

    Why? You are beautiful as you are.

  2. September 14, 2007 / 8:53 am

    I’m in the stage where I can still get by with a good pair of jeans, or control top hose, but I’m headed Spanx-ward fast. Thanks for the tips!

  3. September 14, 2007 / 12:46 pm

    spot: aww, thanks!

    shefaly: oh yeah, it’s totally about the outside world in my case. I was raised to care about how I appeared to others, and still am not evolved enough to let go of that. For me, it doesn’t feel so much like “lying” as just putting my best face forward. And yes,”best” as defined by a culture that’s still uncomfortable with real women’s bodies.

  4. Sharon
    September 14, 2007 / 12:48 pm

    I wear Spanx for the same reason I wear the shoes and clothes I wear. I like to look nice, according to my own aesthetic, which is connected to but not entirely dominated by the dialogue with others that we call fashion. When my body is smoother, my clothes look better, and I enjoy the way I feel in them. When my gardens are well tended, or my house nicely decorated, they also look better, although it would be possible to say that there is something artificial or too attentive to others in the way I tend or decorate them. Spanx are comfortable and they are almost as effective as a girdle. I’m wearing them too.

  5. September 14, 2007 / 2:01 pm

    Dejapseu: Thanks. The cultural roots of acceptable or aspirational body image are fascinating. It is a pity too much anthropological work is focused on modern times and mostly western societies.

    I think in any culture, it also depends on WHO socialised a child. In my case, where my mother – by all accounts, a very stylish woman who designed her own jewellery and intricate embroidered shawls and silk sarees – died when I was 4, my socialisation did not happen at her hands. So naturally all this stuff is fascinating to hear out of pure curiosity, which as an adult is probably odd (even irksome, going by your note).


  6. September 14, 2007 / 2:22 pm

    shefaly, tomorrow I’m going to re-post something that should explain a lot. 😉

  7. September 14, 2007 / 2:50 pm

    And I’m sorry you lost your mom so young.

  8. Shefaly
    September 14, 2007 / 3:17 pm

    Thank you, though I have to say that I know in a Zen-like way that people are saddened by memories and residual attachment. A very young child remembers little and is attached to much less. In toto, it sounds more awful than it is 🙂 But, thank you for your kind words.

  9. Shefaly Yogendra
    September 14, 2007 / 10:43 am

    Between yesterday’s post and today’s, I wonder if the body image thing is more for the benefit of the outside world than for a person’s own benefit. Why do people dislike being fat, jiggly, not shapely etc. except for fear of disapproval from faceless masses? After all once we are out of the house, we rarely see a mirror to assess ourselves critically. It is the others, who are mostly looking at us.

    So the girdle and Spanx products and the end-product – the nicely tucked in body – etc are mostly for others to see, right?

    But when they are removed, it is not as if the body changed for the shapelier. So we are left with the truth, having flogged/ flaunted a lie all day. Does it make us feel better or worse, or are we too tired to care by the end of the day?

    I just wonder what purpose is served by these products except mass-scale deception both of our own and of others…

    Part of this curiosity comes from products such as padded underwear for both men and women. The main purpose from an evolutionary perspective is to find a mate. Now if the mate is particularly keen on the ‘amended’ vital statistics, will the lie not soon be evident?

    Or am I making too philosophical an objection to something meant as a boost to individual confidence, dented first by media articles and then the same media flogs us ‘solutions’ to a problem that really isn’t one?


  10. Shefaly Yogendra
    September 14, 2007 / 2:30 pm

    Ah, ok, thank you! I shall return. This afternoon is consumed with the thesis chapter, that should have been done yesterday or last week 🙁

  11. Anonymous
    January 28, 2008 / 9:02 pm

    Spanx – this is a good starter girdle, the problem is that Spanx is not firm and supportive enough.

    One will find that after a few months and getting use to being in Spanx that they will need to be in a much firmer and more supportive girdle.

  12. April 28, 2008 / 2:25 pm

    Like the J. Crew navy jacket (and the yellow too- it’s so fresh. Definitely Paris worthy.)Would look great with one of your Hermes scarves.

    I will never buy a woman’s jacket whose cut is indistinguishable from a man’s.

  13. March 31, 2012 / 4:59 pm

    I wear a girdle all the time. The body gets so used to it after a while that in fact you miss it when it’s off. But you simply must get fitted carefully , then it’s real comfortable once you get used to all the tightness all around you.
    I feel that the way it supports and holds me up is fabulous. It makes a tight skirt or dress look absolutely stunning, but it gets to feel real snug and hugs you after a while. You have to sit up straight though, you have to learn to bend at the knees, and you move very elegantly in a different way. Really it’s another way of life.
    After a while you don’t think about it at all and take it for granted. Then it doesn’t squeeze or feel tight anymore, rather it makes you feel very different in a nice way, a firmness takes over, it can be nice when you reach that stage. As I say it’s a different way of life.
    I usually wear an open-bottom girdle with suspenders and stockings in a dress/skirt and a firm panty girdle in trousers/jeans, or over pantyhose.
    Thus I feel that if more women gave a girdle a chance more would wear them. Soo some ladies here who didn’t like it at first I advise strongly to give it a chance over a period of a couple of weeks.You’ll never regret the effort, wearing a girdle puts you in a class apart. And, hey, be proud of it 🙂

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