Did I ever tell you guys about the time I hooked up with a guy while wearing a fake butt?
I imagine that it's probably a pretty common thing, given the amount of women who wear shapewear and how good a fake butt looks on everybody. The nice people at BootyPop sent me a pair at my old job, and I wore them out to karaoke underneath a ridiculously tiny jean skirt, expressly to make my friends uncomfortable. I have a round butt to begin with and this just took things to what my nemeses, The Eagles, might call "the limit."
I'm not sure whether it was the moon, the sounds of my sonorous baritone, or the massive fake butt, but I ended up back at my apartment with a gentleman that night. Mid-make out, he reached for my ass and froze completely when confronted with two brimming palmfuls of prosthesis. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I probably did what I always do when something weird happens during sex: I whispered, "Shhhh, it's OK, I'm a journalist," while stroking his nose like a pony.
Did he feel cheated? Deceived into doing me? You know what? I don't care.
This CNN article worried that powerful women are still relying on shapewear to feel confident. Adele apparently admitted to wearing four pairs of Spanx under her clothing, and the author of the post thought that the idea of mainstreaming shapewear was dangerously retrograde.
But when women think that they can have both their Spanx and their paychecks, they miss the big picture. The culture that gave us Spanx holds us to impossible standards of beauty that even the sveltest women cannot meet (just think of all the Hollywood stars who are always trying to slim down). And it provides us with an impoverished sense of empowerment.
Uh, hm. Isn't part of being a powerful woman getting to pick out your own underwear? Look, I bought the above "smoothing slip" (read: girdle) for a wedding and while I certainly enjoy the no-lunges-necessary nipping effect, it doesn't make me feel any more "empowered" than anything I think I look okay in. That also includes my overalls, which may not have the same cultural associations, but they don't mean that I'm danger of becoming an Okie.
I think perhaps we're conflating "feeling confident in an outfit" with "empowerment." They're cousins, but they're not the same thing. A part of accepting that other women are allowed to make different choices about their bodies is staying out of their underwear drawers. Yes, okay, some of my underwear may be horrible and from the Eisenhower days, but that doesn't mean my politics are.
I don't wear Spanx every day, because I'm lazy and committed to terrible posture. I usually wear jeans and jorts and T-shirts and it's just not necessary. But if I have a special occasion like being on TV or meeting Bon Jovi, you can bet I'm going to wear some Spanx.
I don't think that means I hate my body or that I'm going back to pre-suffragette times. I just like to be smoothed out. And besides, if you are built like me, I think you are allowed an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys. If I couldn't adjust my center of gravity a little, I probably wouldn't be so sweet at skateboarding or tricking people into having sex with me.
The paradox of shapewear is supposed to be that yes, it will get you laid, but then you have to take it off and BE YOU again. To this I say: When you're alone, there's nothing quite like the feeling of whipping off your bra. And if you're with someone else, there's nothing quite like the feeling of whipping off your bra.
If you're that embarrassed to wiggle out of your high-rise control top tights in front of somebody, just go to the ladies and shove that shit in a bag. Whether it's a push up bra or a truss, I don't think shapewear is "lying" or I don't think that it's conforming to unfair body standards any more than belting something to "create a waist" is deceptive.
I don't think there's anybody, male or female, that doesn't appreciate the extra confidence boost being sligggggghtly more wind resistant can engender. Ultimately, what is under my clothing is between me and whoever is sexily yanking them off.