What the "false advertising" Spanx?!
By Danielle Hrachovec
Ever heard of Spanx? If you haven’t, you must live underneath a rock in a Hollywood-less Utopia where women have no pressure to suck in their “weak areas.” Celebrities from Tina Fey to Adele have admitted to wearing as many as 5 pairs of these glorified girdles to look red carpet ready. Alas, it seems to little surprise that Sara Blakely, the entrepreneur who launched the product, would now be a billionaire, getting paid for other women’s--and now men’s, insecurities (may I present manx?). However, when E! did a report on this woman’s current status as the youngest female multimillionaire, the male reporter did let out a few complaints about how unfair the use of shapewear is because it makes women “look so good,” when they assumedly have normal bodies with imperfections… because perfection is a lie.
A few days before that, I watched a video on Women’s Health about “false advertising,” like push-up bras, compression death shorts/girdles in disguise, and padded panties. Apparently, it’s not right that women pretend that their bodies are these awesome proportions that gift about 8% of the population naturally. The other 92% of the population should show their “dumpy” imperfect bodies so that men can make informed decisions before they make them their booty call. Men are in revolt!
This uproar over “false advertising” is a load of hot, steamy, valueless crap. However, just like how crap can be turned into manure to make things grow, these claims over alleged misrepresentation can be used to foster and sprout better understanding of the enormous amount of pressure our society places on women to have unrealistic body measurements.
As long as women and men have accepted their sexuality, women have been told that their bodies must look a certain way. Social customs in the Victorian-era Western world accommodated women that were greatly restricted by their suffocating whalebone corsets. Women danced less, did not run, and they were always fainting. As women entered the workplace beginning in WWI, we saw less of that restriction, although it was still pretty ubiquitous through the form of half corsets and girdles until the 1970s, when an era of feminism began to reign. Not until the invention and distribution of Spanx in the late 90s/early millennium did “shapewear” begin to launch in popularity again (yes, it existed before, but there wasn’t necessarily the vast diversity in choices and massive publicity).
Why have women always tried to force their bodies into little human-sized sausage casings or sheddable exoskeletons? Surely the explanation is simple. Women desire to transform their bodies into the shapes that media and society tell them they need. Whether this is the non-existent waist praised by Victorian papers or the new “big butts” made popular by Sir Mix-a-lot and other rappers. Women have ALWAYS been told how they need to look. And now, perfectly airbrushed women remind us that the worst thing that could possibly happen to us is showing a muffin top or panty line underneath our dresses, ergo, the necessity of Spanx and other varied shapewear.
So men (and other women) please, get off of this whole “stop pretending your body’s shaped a way it really isn’t” kick. It’s annoying because IT IS ALL MEDIA’S FAULT! If, as a whole, society wants women to stop going by the means to look a certain way, it should stop telling them they should look like that. Because imagine this, hearing Nelly say that he wants a girl “36-25-34,” may make girls try to attain those measurements.
So, I’m posing an ultimatum. We could continue funding Sara Blakely’s fat wallet with our own sheer desperation to look “hot” or we can learn enough media literacy to understand why we shouldn’t have to fit a certain profile.
The world has a beautiful variety of people and women should not feel like they have to be shaped a particular way. Regardless, there is something beautiful about how they are proportioned. Not to make an overly corny analogy, but women are like snowflakes, no two are remotely the same. However, I understand why women feel they need to have less fat on their tummy, hips, chest, or that awkward back thing that the Genie Bra is supposed to fix. Because in a world where we are bombarded with false images (hear that FALSE images, like, NOT EVEN REAL), the slightest imperfection seems gargantuan.
This so called “false advertising” is going to exist as long as there are disgusting expectations of women. So, society will either have to step up to the fact that they can’t force human bodies to do something that their metabolism and heritage will not allow them to do, or it will have to continue being full of filthy hypocrites who are demanding bodies look ways they will NEVER look. Also, in demanding that, society and media are continuing to create unhealthy body image ideals in both men and women, and increase depression rates and decrease self-esteem. Wouldn’t it be nice if the former would prevail?