Does Shapewear Contribute to Body Snark?
Today’s guest post is by Petra Bellejambes, hosiery editor and regular contributor to the lingerie blog, Guilty Pleasures. In today’s guest post for The Lingerie Addict, Petra asks if shapewear’s popularity helps create a body snark prone climate. I thought the essay was extremely thought-provoking, and I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. ~ Treacle
I love it when Treacle posts something a little contentious and an avalanche of reader comments follow, tumbling all the way down the page, scrolling and sprawling and sometimes brawling. Lingerie can inspire all sorts of passions, and passionate opinions too.
Things really light up here on The Lingerie Addict when the chitchat gets around to discrimination. This comes, I suspect, from Treacle’s simple conviction that women are beautiful, full stop. No ifs, ands, or commentary on the size of our butts about it. I share this conviction. You too I hope.
Discrimination comes in many subtle and slap-in-the-face forms here in Lingerie World. Models lack diversity in size, shade and shape. They are primped and preened and photoshopped into hyper-idealized settings. They seem to live in mansions and penthouses always within tottering distance of a canopy bed. And for the most part they are thin, pale and young (and too often incapable of smiling).
When we don’t see people that look or live remotely like us, how are we supposed to feel about … us? Unimportant? Unattractive? Undesirable? Invisible? All of the above?
The discrimination creeps on to the shop racks. Small band/big cup, big band/small cup girls have a devil of a time finding pieces that fit, last, and feel beautiful. The rest of us are encouraged to abandon our natural silhouette and pad up or minimize down a size or two. And what on earth is nude? Nude to who? A perfect nude on me would have random breakouts, blotches, and blemishes, and come complete with bad tan lines.
Great environment for Body Snark. The world throws it at us. We bounce it on to others. Mirrors reflect it back at us. And the Snark never sleeps. If you are not all up to speed on The Lingerie Addicts views on Body Snark, take a fast master class here. And then hurry back here for my little question for all of us.
Is shapewear Body Snarky?
I am waging a battle against a growing waistline lately and pouring myself into nippers, cinchers, control slips, and full body briefers to hold the line. I walk the dogs and try to eat right, but time has time on its side. All of us face our body battles sooner or later, hips and thighs, pooch and bum, boobs and back, you name it. The assortment of miracle shapewear “solutions” seems to grow daily and promise to help us push the line back.
The very word solution presumes a problem though, yes? So again, I ask: When we suit up with the Spandex Squadron are we helping out Team Snark?
I will quickly take pro and con positions here:
Pro: I have a wardrobe that I want to wear to death. A pinched inch or two helps keep borderline small skirts and pants ready to wear. I save money. Hurray! Moreover, many of these things hang better and look more like they are designed to with a smooth, uniform coat of paint on my lumpy frame. Some of my more structured shaping pieces straighten me up and remind me to keep my shoulders back. I walk a little taller, and good posture is good manners in its own way, yes? Lastly, in defense of Shapewear, I have to admit that a good piece makes me believe that I look better.
Better than what I suppose is the question. Now over to the prosecution.
Con: It is hot in here dammit, and if I move too fast my glands will kick in and ruin another blouse. And comfort… well this one is more comfy than that one, this other wicks well, and that one digs in where is shouldn’t, but regardless of how good the piece feels, the two best moments of the day come before it goes on and the second it comes off. And all the fuss in the bathroom, straps and clasps and putting yourself back together after a quick pee. Too much body armor and you can be tempted to just hold it in and run the risk of another UTI.
Beyond these inconveniences though lurks the bigger issue. Who are we fooling and why do we try?
By going the extra distance to “fix” our figures and look better (again, better than what??) do we contribute to the idealization and objectification of women? Do we subtly weigh in on the with discriminatory forces? Does the new packaging not faithfully describe our beautiful contents? And do we, you and me, find in these garments a barrier to better recognize and appreciate beauty in all of its gorgeously, naturally, womanly forms?
Much of what we look like is inherited, and the rest of it comes from how we behave or misbehave. And the longer we live, the more things change. Our shapes too. When we obscure those changes and fight futilely against them do we close our minds just a little bit to the beauty we all have?
And does that make the world a little Body Snarkier than it could be, should be?
Hopefully we will all get some new thoughts from your much desired comments here.