Thursday, November 29, 2007

You're a bad girl - you need a spanx-ing

Via Jezebel, I loved this article about foundation garments from the Guardian, and I just wanted to add my two cents.

When I first saw that girdle-maker Spanx offers a tummy-tucking, butt lifting, thigh smooshing product called "power panties," I rolled my eyes so hard that I might have achieved the coveted 360-degree eyeroll. No one would accuse me of thinking my body beyond criticism, and I can dig makeup and bras, or hobble around in stilettos with the best of them. That doesn't dissuade me from being totally creeped out by body-smooshing underpants being sold as empowering. I find tight clothing painful and humiliating (it makes me feel like every pinch and tug is the fault of my heft, and not the fact that I should have tossed these pants months ago), and while my tummy and thighs aren't anything I'm especially proud of, I'm just not going to do it.

I do have reasons more high-minded than "oof," even if I do think that comfort is pretty important. It depresses me how unrealistically women are portrayed in the media, how the heavily-photoshopped and made up and theatrically-lit woman has become the standard by which people walking down the street feel they are being judged. And hell, I've submitted to the idea that my body is too bumpy and fat and dimpled and hairy (yet, decorum-destroyingly-sexy, if laws against public nudity are any indication) to be exposed in broad daylight, and I wear my tank tops under v-necked tops and skirts usually at the knee. I'm not ready to concede that the way my body looks even when clothed isn't "shaped" and "smoothed" enough. Screw that. I have a shape, and I don't want to train myself to be more uncomfortable with it than I already am. It's the same reason that I don't wear makeup every day - I'll take a break for a few days if I find myself thinking that I look terrible without it. I don't want to think that I naturally look terrible!

And if you're a Spanx fan, I do understand. Beauty is a very damned if you do, damned if you don't issue for women. Whether you reject or embrace a certain beauty practice, you're going to be spending a significant amount of energy on it, energy that could probably be better spent on other pursuits. I finally had to face the fact that my body issues made me much more miserable than being fat ever could, and it's been a huge weight off of my shoulders. Usually. Self-acceptance is a lot more durable reaction to a society that demands something your body just can't deliver, but it also comes with the loss of the acceptance of others - and it's tough to achieve and tough to maintain.

Sometimes, it's just easier to shave off the leg hair, admire your smooth calves in all their unnatural glory, and get back to kicking asses.
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