Tabatha Wharton

words

{musings of an aging millennial trope}



In the Defense of ... Spanx.

I have not always loved my body.

I did not hear I was beautiful growing up. I was a sum of all of my flawed parts, if I just tried this one thing or stopped eating this other thing or stood differently or moved more but with less force maybe, maybe then I'd be something close to passable as pretty.

It is no wonder that I have wrecked this earthly vessel time and time again, putting my molecules through every test of deprivation and excess all in an effort to pass someone else's snuff.

And it is part of why it was so remarkable, that one of the two last words my grandfather spoke to me before he passed was just that.

Somewhere in the twenty(!) years I have been five feet, eight inches tall and anywhere from 110 to 218 lbs, I slowly learned to find appreciation for myself. I think it was somewhere between the aerial arts classes and the half marathons, when my body showed it was just as capable as my mind of accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks. And despite the hardship and flat out medical danger that pregnancy was for me, this body has made two remarkable human beings rather spontaneously.

It's something I work on to this day, still. Most of the time my unease comes from my perceived flaws in my appearance -- the fine lines of age etching ever-so-slightly deeper into my face, still dotted with blemishes I know I'll never escape no matter how old I get; spider veins blossoming across my calves and thighs, tricking my eyes into believing if I run the razor over that spot one more time, that "hair" just below the surface will disappear; the layers upon layers of stretch marks from growing up in painful fits and condensed spurts, on top of the sagging skin from carrying life within my very short torso (so truly, in front of me, as there was no where else for either child to go but OUT) for nearly a year at a time -- surface level things that come with age and being human. Not to mention my everchanging hair, my decreasing ability to wear contacts for the entirety of a day, the way my bones creak and take just a bit longer to acquiesce to my commands of movement. Sometimes, my body betrays me from the inside, ravaging me with temporary illness or a new permanent diagnosis to brave.

And sometimes it just won't listen to me when I want to wear something that makes me feel beautiful, save for that weird pinch there or that unfortunate fold there. So. All of that is to say that I have traveled a long and dark path to get to the place I am right now, to be able to share the things I am about to share with you.

Which is, namely, my daily Spanx.

Because, YES, I WEAR SPANX. YES, ALMOST EVERY DAY. BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEEL MORE PUT TOGETHER AND PRETTY. Also because I can be quite a sweaty human in warmer temperatures and Spanx are amazing at the moisture wicking, in case you were unaware. Perhaps it stems from the years I spent in one form of Lyrca or another for various activities, or maybe just the sensation of the compression helps me stay grounded, like my son's compression vest did for him as a toddler.

Whatever the reason, I don't want a single person who follows me on Instagram or sees me in real life to think I just throw clothes on in the morning and wear them like a mannequin with little-to-no effort because life is so easy for this purple haired skinny bitch.

NOPE. ALL OF THE NOPES.

I've actually heard, in person, some kick back when I mention wearing Spanx -- almost exclusively from other women, questioning why I would need to wear Spanx in the first place.

Because, for me namely, this:

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I like the feeling of (that stomach, above, specifically) being, to a point, contained while going through my daily tasks. And the wearing of Spanx is not relegated to the obese or straight-torsoed or older people or painfully insecure or drag queens or postpartum women whatever other crazy pigeonhole you can dream up. It's just another form of "foundation garments" -- or, you know, underwear.

Let me be clear, here, though -- I am all for body positivity, and I applaud the women (and men!) out there rocking themselves out wearing what makes them feel good no matter what anyone else may think. I try really hard to work on that, myself, while admitting I do possess a great deal of good attributes that help me fit into a more hegemonic ideal of attractiveness.

I just personally get really pissed off when the folds of skin that used to be my stomach pre-children get all caught on waistbands or pulls a dress funny so my ass ends up looking flat (or hanging out) or suddenly decides to expand with bloat and I magically look five months pregnant again because I ate three bites of white bread.

So I wear Spanx. It's not a judgement on anyone but myself and my personal level of comfort, both aesthetic and mental.

And as someone who believes in authenticity and honesty and being as real as possible online, I thought I'd show that side of this fledgling fashion blogger's closet. Because besides from a couple of celebrities during awards season (which, I feel, is a less realistic example of what shapewear was meant to accomplish because no, it's not meant to be worn in triplicate on the regular because IT'S UNCOMFY) and the occasional body-shaming viral horror story, we all crack jokes and act as if Spanx were somehow the left elbow of Satan himself.

They don't have to be. And I want to show you how they absolutely aren't, in my life.

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This is the outfit I wore to my family Thanksgiving in 2015, hence the holiday decor behind me. I've been actually working on the basics of this whole idea for a while now -- never you mind that my holiday stuff is still up as we speak.

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The Details:

Top - Forever 21 (but I got it in a clothes swap so I can't tell you more than that)

Skirt & earrings - Old Navy

Tank (under shirt) & necklace - Target

Shoes - Sam Edleman (found at Nordstrom Rack)

Spanx - Spanx Takes Off Footless Leggings

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I felt, at the time, like this outfit was kind of meh. Looking back at the pictures now, I kind of dig it, I think. The shirt has a cinched waist that kind of awkwardly hit the waistband of the skirt that meant I fussed with it a lot, so there's that. It was unseasonably warm, if I remember correctly -- I'm not even sure I wore a jacket to a 5pm meal. In Ohio. In late November. But not quite to the point of being worth shaving my legs for, so as it has been for most of this mild winter for me, leg coverage was super important. Mostly because I am lazy.

Drumroll -- here's what it took, underneath, to make this outfit work how I wanted:

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What I like about these leggings is (a) the waistband hits right above my belly button, which is the area I always want the most help with but especially in this skirt as the pleated tiers can actually add a bit of floof to that area otherwise  (b) the waistband doesn't pinch or roll down or cut into my sides and (c) they are fairly opaque black, which is great for extra coverage when wearing a mini skirt, ahem.

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AHEM. Coverage is especially important when you're a mom with two little kids at a function of almost 30 people. You know you'll be moving. You know short skirts aren't always forgiving. So, in this scenario, leggings > tights. I also have a thing about being able to wear real socks when I'm wearing boots/booties so footless leggings easily accommodate that. 

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I also opted for the leggings over, say, my usual high-waisted tights because it was mother effing Thanksgiving. Everything I wore was stretchy and styled to give my belly some breathing room. Hi, I am Midwestern and come from German, Czech, and Italian stock, mostly. Food is love. And Thanksgiving is my favorite food holiday.

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See? Movement. 'Twas important.

There you have it -- a day in the life of a real, average human being who wears Spanx to super average events like a family holiday meal to make her clothes fit the way she likes, without impeding her lifestyle. At least not any more than those shoes impede it, that is.

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This post was originially published on Tabatha, Etc., and was syndicated on BonBon Break