Body shapers are good for a laugh 2014.07.02



That’s what I said to my daughter-in-law and her mom when I emerged from my stall of the swankiest Porta Potty I have ever seen—somewhat on the order of a motorhome. 

We were at the outdoor wedding of Sarah’s sister and the accommodations were deluxe: a three-seater complete with a mirror, a sink and running water, paper towels, and room to maneuver. “Spanx” was my one-word explanation for why it had taken me so long to emerge from the stall. 

I don’t know why I bother with the struggle and theatrics of pulling Spanx up and subsequently unrolling them down my legs. I always imagine a camera running, following my progress. It never fails to make me laugh and recall the time I got trapped in a more powerful undergarment while shopping with Rosie. It’s one of those scenes that conjures instant laughter when I recall it. 

I wrote about it in 2008, the year both Rosie and Ben were married. I referred to the mother-of-the-bride dress I had purchased even though it showed the prominent dent between my hips and buttocks. I thought I would exercise and shape up during the six months between purchase and wedding—or at least find a more flattering dress...but neither of those things happened. Here’s a repeat of some of that column. 

Six months have come and gone and now this dress is really mine. My dent still shows prominently because I’d rather eat and watch “The Wire” than exercise; I figured I could body shape the dent away. I was unsuccessful in my first undergarment shopping trip—none of the items I tried on altered my body to smooth out the dent.

It’s the effect of gravity, what causes my dent. If I could permanently lift my buttocks I would be quite shapely below the waist. I thought body shaper dealies were designed to move all the fat around, but they didn’t do diddley for me.

So when Rozee was home a couple of weekends ago we went to Macy’s in search of a miracle. The saleswoman suggested several kinds of bodyshapers, including the Miraclesuit, which according to the packaging, “will make a woman look 10 pounds lighter in 10 seconds.”

I shimmied and I struggled, and I tugged and I sucked, and I huffed and I puffed, but I still could not get that thing to go past my upper thigh. Flesh oozed out over the waistband in quantities I didn’t even know existed. I was stuck at half mast, laughing uncontrollably at my predicament, thankful that the bathroom had been our first stop.

Rozee was laughing just as hard—until other customers entered the otherwise empty changing room. And then she went into silent laughter mode which just made me laugh harder every time I looked at her. 

The sight of myself in the mirror was even funnier—half-naked cross-legged woman struggling to pull up an impossibly tight straight jacket device—and then Rozee came from behind and yanked it up, breaking the logjam.

“The package says it’ll make you 10 pounds lighter in 10 seconds, but I think it took you a lot longer,” she said.

That just made me laugh all the more, and it was a while longer before I could regain my composure and try on the variety of other shapers in both medium and large. At some point I realized that trying these things on requires something I lack—great upper body strength. I couldn’t have shimmied into any of them without Rozee yanking them up from the back.

And, it was quite frustrating, since size medium was almost impossible to get on, while the large, once on, didn’t seem to do much of anything—the dent remained. 

I finally asked the saleswoman to measure me to see what size I ought to take according to the package guidelines. She produced her tape measure, did her thing, and declared, “You’re a perfect large!” 

It’s been six years since the saleswoman made that announcement and, although I don’t do much in the exercise and diet department to change my physique, I still haven’t quite accepted my transformed body. I wish I could learn from my grandkids Caroline and Ryland who blithely shed their clothing and run off uninhibitedly shrieking with joy. 

OK, that might not be a pretty sight.