Like lots of women, I have used shapewear over the years to "smooth out" my belly bulge and any cellulite that might peak through a fitted garment. I have worn corsets, girdles, control top pantyhose and Spanx Booty-Booster Shorts. I always wanted to look sleeker and more toned because everyone knows that lumps and bumps are the anti-Christ (insert sarcasm here). God forbid I should look like the average woman. The idea that I could fool people into thinking that I do 100 squats a day seemed so easy and so, well, powerful. I was screaming from the rooftops, "Look at my flat tummy and perfectly round glutes. Ain't I awesome?" without ever having to say a word. There was something safe about leaving the house and not worrying that a rogue body part might jiggle at the wrong time (i.e.anywhere other people roam). I literally feared and loathed my fat. And that, my friends, is the sad truth.
In a society that worships thin women, I, for many years, believed that I had no other choice but to squeeze my body into uncomfortable contraptions, which would cut off my circulation and leave deep marks in my skin. Taking off a girdle at the end of a long day is by far one of the most freeing feelings ever (that and taking off your bra). I was sort of addicted to looking thinner. But underneath all that, I think what I felt was bondage -- not just physical bondage, but psychological too.
That is exactly the sentiment I feel when struggling to get my thighs into a pair of Spanx. I am obeying our culture's decree that my body is inherently bad, and that a restrictive medieval contraption is the solution to body woes and low self-esteem.
Have you ever seen an ad for a man's girdle? I think I've seen one in my life, and I know plenty of men with large bellies, flabby arms and wide asses. But they are somehow exempt from the same scrutiny that women endure. Imagine if men had to wear "Slim-Cognito" briefs. We would never hear the end of of their complaints. But women have been altering their normal proportions for centuries in order to adhere to an unrealistic Barbie-like physique, and often at the expense of their health.
For the past few weeks I have been wearing clothes in varying degrees of fitted-ness without shapewear, and it's felt incredibly liberating. Yes, my ass jiggles when I move and I can feel my ample stomach poking through my faux leather leggings, but at least I'm comfortable. Oddly enough, I've actually started feeling better about myself since I deserted the Girdle Society. What's more is that my fat is cute! I even started this hashtag on Instagram:
With all that being said, I think as women we are entitled to do what feels best for us. I may not abandon my tummy-tamer just yet, but I'm learning to live without it. If wearing shapewear makes you feel good, then go for it. But if it irritates the fuck out of you, trying going without and see how you feel physically and emotionally. You might be surprised.