With party season here, I’m proud to tell you that I, with my less-than-perfect body, attended a wedding celebration in a slinky black dress without any shapewear underneath it. Excuse me while I give myself a high-five.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with shapewear — and by those of you, I mean most straight men and skinny women who realize they are skinny — it’s underwear designed with one holy purpose: to make you look thinner than you are.
In reality, shapewear (also known as Spanx, but like Kleenex, Spanx is just a brand name) is a euphemism for a torture device that compresses your fat along with your stomach, colon and other organs so tightly you feel like they might explode out of your ears or other non-shapewearable body orifices. Think 21st-century super-girdle.
When I put on shapewear, deep breathing is not an option. Nor is consuming more than a few morsels of food. All I can think about while squished into shapewear is how I might die from wearing it — and how that might be a blessing. Seriously, shapewear could be highly useful to the military if they forced bad guys to put it on.
In all fairness, over the last few years, shapewear brands have finally gotten the hint and now offer less constricting models, too. I don’t really see the point, however, because constricting is the point.
How did I come to Just Say No to shapewear? I’d like to tell you I finally became a woman who doesn’t give a crap about how she looks. But here’s the thing: That would be a big, fat (no pun intended) lie. The wedding was a spectacular affair held at a spectacular locale. The bride was the daughter of a special, longtime friend. I wanted to look my best. Yet in spite of all that, somehow comfort won out over vanity.
Although I didn’t think so at the time, some would say I once had a decent enough figure. My friends today might say l still do. But the truth is, somewhere along the line, time, gravity, social media, chocolate-hazelnut gelato, and binge-watching multiple seasons of “Orange is the New Black” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” got in the way of possessing a slim, trim body.
I had purchased the slinky black dress over a year ago when I stood up at my sister Nancy’s wedding. As soon as I tried it on in the Lord & Taylor dressing room, I knew it was exactly what I wanted. Still, I knew I had to squeeze my lower half into shapewear first. Otherwise, I was sure I’d look eight months pregnant.
Although I was thrilled to be standing up at Nancy’s wedding, I was definitely not thrilled to be wearing shapewear. True story: I peeled the literal sucker off on the way home. (No, I was not driving.) Looking back, I was lucky I didn’t end up in the clinker for indecent exposure — although the instant relief I had felt then would have made it worth it.
As soon as I learned I was invited to my friend’s daughter’s wedding, I once again knew I would wear the black dress and, of course, shapewear. But minutes before my husband and I were ready to leave, all dolled up and ready to rock and roll, I had an epiphany: Maybe I could wear the dress sans shapewear.
I tried it on. When I glanced in the mirror, I saw a slight bulge around my midsection (4-6 weeks preggers, tops), but it wasn’t horrendous. Besides, who would care other than me? I left the house feeling lighter (though I didn’t look that way), even downright giddy.
The wedding was flawless. Me? Not flawless, but just fine. The beautiful bride, her adoring new husband — in fact, everyone in the bridal party — radiated happiness. Shapewearless, so did I.
On “Saturday Night Live” back in the ’80s, Billy Crystal did a parody of Fernando Lamas in which he would say, “It’s better to look good than to feel good.” My younger, vainer self would laugh, and laugh at the truth of the statement. I’ve finally figured out he had it wrong. Nothing, and I mean nothing, replaces feeling good.
Have I reached the point of no return to shapewear? Not quite. Thanks to Spanx and its latest invention, “Arm Tights,” now there’s another body part I can feel bad about.