Salon‘s Sarah Hepola writes in “The Surprise Spanx Makeout Session” about the Catch-22 of so-called “shapewear,” a product so necessary yet hideous that I summarize it thusly: it only works if you can’t see it.
Hepola’s story of her control top undergarment and the panic that ensued when a gentleman caller’s hand started creeping ever nearer toward them reminded me of my own Spanx anxiety (Spanx-iety?).
I’m a married woman with kids, but I, too, was recently in the position of having the hand of a man who I had only just met come within inches of the Spanx.
While Hepola confessed her Spanx to the makeout guy immediately, I put a stop to the approaching hand. You see, at the time, I was pregnant and wearing the least appealing Spanx on the market — maternity ones.
I had put on my Power Mama mid-thigh shaper not for tummy control — ahh, the luxury of pregnancy! — but to keep my thin, thin, clingy and thin fabric Old Navy maternity dress from adhering to unshapely bits of my haunches. But the mechanics of Spanx are such — no VPLs! — that you need a lot of coverage to remedy small-scope problems areas. So basically everything from below my bra to above the hemline was bound in, as Hepola puts it, beige elastic.
At a little writers mixer, a friend introduced me to Joe, a father of two, who, when realizing I was pregnant, started charging over with his hand held out in that certain way — specific distance from his body, 45-degree angle, only a woman who has been pregnant knows this exact gesture. I’m not big on the touching of my pregnant bellies, but by this third pregnancy I had learned to tolerate it. Problem was, I was wearing Spanx, the maternity version of which reaches way up over the belly and kind of sits on the edge of that dip between your belly and boobs. The target area of belly touchers. I couldn’t let Joe touch my belly, because he’d be touching — possibly feeling — the edge of my Spanx.
Unlike Hepola, I didn’t acknowledge the Spanx, I just put my hands up, palms out and yelled, “No touching!”
“No touching?” Joe was crushed.
“No touching, Joe. No. Touching.”
Things were uncomfortable for a moment and then Joe slinked off to get another drink and now, when I see Joe at the park with his kids — and this happens surprisingly often! — Joe and I do not speak to each other. I swing my son, who’s no longer getting squeezed under the Spanx. Joe swings his daughter. There is no acknowledging, no touching. And as long as there are maternity Spanx in this world, there should not be.