Spanx, the world's most problematic undergarment

Posted at 1:29 PM Oct 22, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

It's bad enough when you're mugging down with someone knowing that they will soon discover you are not wearing your sexy drawers. So it must be even worse knowing that they will soon discover you are wearing control garments a la Spanx. This recently happened to Salon's Sarah Hepola, who wrote about her Spanx make-out thusly:

And so what do you do in that instance? When the male in question slips his hand underneath that clingy red fabric, his hand edging ever closer to an unmistakable elastic roadblock somewhere around mid-thigh? What do you do? Do you play the tease and swat his hand away? Do you make up an excuse -- my goodness, look at the time! -- pretending to be some kind of proper lady? Do you rip off those Spanx, taking this moment from soft-core make-out into a triple-X delight? Do you pretend it's normal, say nothing, as though all the girls are wearing restrictive bicycle shorts these days?
To her credit, Hepola did not anticipate the make-out, and hence didn't think to not wear embarrassing underwear items. But the question that comes to my mind about Spanx is not What do you do? but Why wear them at all?

I mean, I get why we wear them. Because they're slimming. And slim is, at the moment, a kind of popular thing to be. But Spanx feel like a lie.

Of course, most of what we wear is a lie, especially as ladies: makeup to hide pimples and elongate lashes, high heels to lengthen legs, bras to push up our breasts. But Spanx take the fiction to a place I am not comfortable with. If we can't wear an outfit without girdling ourselves up underneath, shouldn't we find a different outfit to wear?

And the question of the Spanx sex is not an irrelevant one: is it fair to potential partners to advertise a slimmer figure? Is wearing Spanx the same thing as claiming to have a Ph.D. or a penthouse uptown? These are fictions you might be able to get away with for a time. But when it's time to get down to business, the control top has to come off.

If men wore codpieces--lord help us--I'd feel similarly about them. I'd see a guy with a nice bulge and think, "Yes, this thing is about the size of something I'd like to have sex with," but when we get to the bedroom, he's packing a roll of Lifesavers. Wearing Spanx and then taking them off only to reveal jiggly bits and rolls would make me more self-conscious about my body, not less. Staying Spanx-free means that if a guy takes a shine to me, he likes what I've got going on, jiggly bits and all.


mj said:

I totally agree with you for once. If you're not comfortable with your body then go to the gym and stop eating like crap. We as americans are lazy. And I hate to say it but "slim" is healthy. Much like "average" or "curvy" mean overwieght or fat in todays online dating lingo.

I'm not just talking to the ladies here. Guys also. I'm 6'2" and weigh 199, I look athletic. However my Wii fit still tells me that I'm a fat ass, and I'm only a few pounds below the militaries upper weight limit for my height. I'm more inclined to believe fitness folks telling me I need to lose weight then some fashionista asshole (oradvertiser). But, ladies....hit the gym and stop making idiotic excuses why your fat.

stephanie said:

There are some people who are "average" "curvy" and even overweight who can't help being the way they are so why don't you stop and get to know our stories before you call us "lazy Americans." I am a vegetarian who can only eat one meal a day because I can't digest like a "normal" person. I am very active and yet I am overweight. I am sick of people assuming that I'm overweight because I'm too lazy to hit the gym. Let's stop judging people before you know their story because we are all different.

afalker said:

My fiance wears Spanx from time to time, but only under dresses and such to prevent upskirts from the wind or something. Or maybe, since we're committed, all bets are off since we're pretty familiar with each other?

Jenny said:

MJ- 199? I bet it is that kind of precision that makes you a ton of fun to be with.

On Wanda Sykes' new special, she talks about wearing Spanx when she is on TV. She has a solid five minutes on her gut. Funny stuff.

mj said:

The amount of people who are in fact overweight who have a plausible issue compared to the amount who are just overweight and think that they have an issue iis minimal at best. And by minimal we are probably talking 1-2% of fatties here.

I think you need to get off your high and mighty pretentious whateverwavefeminist hipster horse you're on and see reality. I have a problem with our current moral evolutionary compass. Being at the top of thing (apex preditor if you will) we are running out of resources caring and babying those who would normally die off. Now, I'm not saying kill anyone here, but I'm all for "thinning" the herd (damn I'm funny). If our species is going to survive through time and figure things out we must let go of the "weak" (and yes, it is very possible you are one of these) and strive forward. Now, before you start comparing me to some dictator or some shit go change your tampon and bake a cake. Then write a reply.

Sarah said:

Please, people, do not feed the troll.

Red said:

We are all doomed.

Lavode said:

Hmm. I don't see how wearing "Spanx" to hide your cellulite is any worse than wearing makeup to cover up your pimples (but then, I'm too lazy to wear either.)

jack said:

As a red-blooded male, if I was making out with a female and had a hand on her thigh, a pair of Spanx wouldn't phase me in the least. Not for a second. Yay curves (and boo trolls)!

Big Callie said:

Personally, I wear spanx so my clothes will fit better, as my wabbly bits can get a little unwieldly at times. Also, they're a necessity, when your thighs tend to rash due to rubbing against each other. They also prevent the definetly un-elegant undewear marks.
So I'm going to keep wearing those for the time being, without feeling like a fraud, if you don't mind.

Nima said:

I'm married adn from time to time, if i am wearing a dress, i'll wear something like that, just to help out a little. its not like i'm squeesing into a corset 1800's style. (pull those strings tighter~!) But my husband doesnt mind. he knows its only for special occasion. God knows I wouldn't wear it all the time, or when I was looking for a date. (Ever tried to use the restroom while wearing one of those things?) Besides, with my bone structures, i'll never get below a size 16. big girl or not, i can still kick your butt, and if you dont believe me, I have a roundhouse kick that would love to meet your face. ^_^

Disa Johnson said:

I take it stride. Certain outfits are going to rock better with Spanx. I don't wear them all the time. Yes, I consider the type of night I'm going to have before choosing, or choosing to not wear Spanx. I consider the weather. It is all carefully calculated by my brain in a fraction of a second. Little will dissuade me from wearing Spanx, least of all embarrassment. I don't really care at all about what happens in the moment if I tear them off and enjoy myself. The guy doesn't either. I was only slightly more squeamish about it when I was heavier and used a corset or was working the Spanx harder. They're shaping in a complimentary way. That's all there is to it in my mind. There is no deception unless you count all the clothes. Do we date naked? I don't think so. Spanx rule.


your man said:

speaking honestly, if it's tight, shiny, and slippery, than a guy will probably still see it as feminine or even sexy. Where you women are thinking about the control aspect of the garment, we are simply seeing a funky pair of smooth pantyhose or stockings. I love spandexy nylon material both aesthetically and physically. Most men who are comfortable touching a woman's body have come to expect some sort of unusual undergarment at some point or another.

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