27 January 2013

suck it in

The other day I heard a great description of what I refer to as 'suck-it-in-undies'.  "It's like when you clean your house by shoving all the toys, papers and general crap into a cupboard and shut the door.  The house may look good for a little while, but eventually you're going to have to open that cupboard door and all that stuff is going to come tumbling back out."

Great analogy, right?  Unfortunately, this description was used by a man.  To his wife.  After she had just purchased her first pair of suck-it-ins.  He may as well have said, "Sweetheart, I never want to have sex again."

Euphemistically referred to as 'shapewear', women in the western world have the privilege of being able to wander into any department store and find themselves faced with a mind-boggling range of Spanx, Nancy Ganz and the like to help them in their search for physical perfection - or at least to help them fake it.  Even Big W has their Hold Me Tight range.

I am torn about the entire shapewear debate, although to be perfectly honest, it is possible that I am the only one actually debating what is essentially underwear.

There is a part of me that thinks these sort of products simply promote and capitalise on the pressure many women feel to look like a post-Photoshop image of a fifteen year-old girl.  They continue the harmful legacy of a media which shouts criticisms at every woman from billboards, websites and magazines; "You are not good enough!  Your boobs are too low!  Your thighs are too dimpled!  Your upper arms resemble the pancake I ate this morning!"  I wonder if the women behind these brands have contemplated their role in perpetuating female self-loathing.  Is Nancy Ganz in fact a hater?  Is Sara Blakely, billionaire inventor of Spanx really some evil, malevolent cackling witch playing on the insecurities of women in order to maintain her place on  the Forbes magazine's annual I'm Way, Way, Way Richer Than You List?

sara blakely - inventor of spanx and way, way, way richer than most of you
Then there is a part of me that believes anything that can help me and countless other women feel better about themselves is great.  If I feel more confident because I am donning a garment frighteningly similar to a scuba suit under my pencil skirt then I am going to have a greater chance of success on that day and will simply be in a more positive place.  True, I would be feeling more positive because in my mind at least I am looking more like that perky breasted, flat tummy fifteen-year-old in soft-focus, but the reality is, allowing my flabby gut to hang out won't solve the world's misogyny, so I may as well do what I can to feel good about myself.  Right?

Plus, yay for Sara Blakely.  She found a need and she filled it.  She did not and does not rely on daddy or hubby's moolah; surely that's a reason to wrap her in the feminist flag, isn't it?

The reality is fashion is political.  When you choose to wear something you are proclaiming to the world who you are and some of the beliefs you hold.  I guess that's what I find so engaging about the industry.

And to the hubby who shared his great analogy, don't worry Ms Blakely hasn't forgotten you!  Presenting the 'Game-Changer'.

manx - spanx for men

Perhaps the game is changing.  Perhaps men now have just as much right to feel bad about themselves as women do.

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