I thought shapewear was supposed to be awkward and invasive, how is this exactly opposite?

By Laura Reilly
Aug 06, 2019 @ 10:30 am
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Instagram/Spanx

I had a mental block against shapewear for a long time. The same societal pressure to be both perfect and effortless that drives celebrities to deny plastic surgery was the very voice whispering in my ear that openly wearing Spanx was out of the question. I never let myself entertain the thought of slipping into a pair, let alone advertising the fact.

While I’d like to say that I love my body as it is, end of story, that’s neither true nor fair. Like good and bad hair days, there are times when I am fascinated and proud of this finely tuned machine — and days when I feel totally disenchanted with all its fleshy baggage clinging on so un-elegantly.

Our generation’s ‘Love Thyself’ message is a revolutionary act of tolerance and inclusion, but what if it’s not that easy? On those days where I feel regretfully misshapen, body acceptance dogma can be a source of guilt, as though my self-consciousness is holding the culture back.

Stuck between the imagined comments and side glances of a taboo’s chokehold and the potential pity from anyone who’s mastered self-acceptance, I had all but ruled out the stretchy innerwear. And that’s before even taking into account its archaic, bodice-binding appearance and the tales of dreaded pinching, rolling, and wedgie-forming. No, I told myself, I’d never wear it.

But then, as with everything, my outlook began to change. When you write for a site like InStyle, you become acutely aware that all those ‘Hollywood secrets’ are not so secret after all. Cleavage stays put behind plunging necklines with the help of tape — and gets posted about on Instagram; lips get plump with fillers, and then talked about on cable TV; and guess what? Shapewear — specifically Spanx — is like death and taxes to the upper echelon.

So, after a year of covering everything Spanx-related — from celebrities wearing it on the red carpet, to Nordstrom customers swearing by it en masse — I was offered the opportunity to test out a pair for myself (the very ones Karlie Kloss wore to the Met Gala, no less), and surprised myself by accepting.

Courtesy

To buy: $148; spanx.com

Spanx’s Suit Your Fancy Strapless Cupped Mid-Thigh Bodysuit isn’t just shapewear, it’s everything I thought I’d hate about shapewear: Running from bust to mid-thigh, this all-over suit takes over at least half of your body. The padded cups were nothing like the unlined bras I preferred, and the, how shall I put this...crotch flap...struck me as undignified.

Even after I agreed to test the bodysuit, it still sat in my underwear drawer untouched for at least a month. I was intimidated, but then I got the most absolutely perfect white, midi Realisation Par dress, with its delicate straps and clingy fabric, and it was too fitting an opportunity to pass up.

I wriggled into the suit easily. Whatever impression Bridget Jones Diary had left on me was clearly overstated. The soft fabric felt silky across my thighs, and nothing squeezed more than it should, just a gentle hug across my entire torso and thighs. Even the bra cups, which seemed stiff and obvious when the garment was folded up disappeared naturally into my bustline, providing just the right lift.

With the dress on top, I’m not sure how else to put it — I looked absolutely snatched. Everything was miraculously in its right place, my curves were elongated, dimples and dips were smoothed out, and my boobs floated in place. It was my body, just redistributed in such a way that made it look like I was holding my arms up over my head, taut from top to bottom. Unless I pressed the fabric down into the seam at the end of the shorts, it was completely undetectable.

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Stepping out of my room, then my house, then into the company of people I knew was a challenge. I was afraid I’d get called out for my ‘concealed weapon,’ but naturally, that didn’t happen. Instead, the response I got played like an overwritten TV ad for Spanx. My closest friends complimented my body and asked if I was wearing a bra — the downpour of positive reinforcement was unexpected and invigorating.

All night I wore the Spanx and barely thought about them. They lent the familiarity of a pair of favorite high-waisted jeans, the comfort of around-the-house leggings, and the confidence of wearing the prettiest dress in the room (which, in my opinion, I was).

When I think about those Spanx, it’s with a sense of total wonder. To me, it’s still a complete mystery how they accomplished everything they did — I thought shapewear was supposed to be awkward and invasive, how are these exactly opposite?

Am I perfect? No. Effortless? Also no. But if I can look and feel good, and break taboos along the way, I call that a win for the culture.

Shop the shapewear that changed my mind about shapewear for $148 at Spanx.com.

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