Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Jan 21

The Girdle. Undergarment from Hell.

The dreaded girdle.  Oh, how I hate thee.

When it was time for my mom to show my eleven year old self what to do with those weird looking, foot-long, crazy-thick pads in the pink box under the bathroom sink, she also gave me a strict word of advice: You MUST wear a girdle with these in order to keep them in place.  We’ll go out and buy you one today so you can start wearing them right away.

Me?  A girdle?  What was I, eighty?  Well, you decide for yourself because this photo is almost identical to the actual one that my mother made me wear:

Chevron Panty Girdle

I hated the girdle – and I mean, hated it. Yes, even more than the 2 inch thick Kotex I had to wear; and I balked every time my mother made me wear it. After a year or so of constant complaint she finally gave up and said, ‘Fine, don’t wear one. But you’ll be sorry because you NEED them to help keep everything in place.  But if you want things hanging out all over then I guess there’s nothing I can do about it.’ Did I mention that my mother is famous?  You know her – everyone does.  She invented the Guilt Trip. 

Challenging as it was having a celebrity for a parent, I was able to free myself from the confines of girdle-hood for many, many years. And life was good.  

Fast forward um, about….three decades, and apparently I have crossed over into the Twilight Zone because I am eating those words.  I now completely understand how important it is to keep jiggly bits from flopping around.  For a while now I’ve been trying to find the perfect form-fitting undergarment. Gravity is having its way with me; things are starting to fall further and further towards the ground and I’m finding myself actually looking for a magical underwear to stop it. So far, I have been unsuccessful.

My mail carrier must be noticing it as well because for the first time ever, I recently received an unsolicited catalog in the mail by a company called Spanx, tucked in between an Omaha Steaks brochure and this week’s flyer for reasonably priced maid service.  (Seriously, how do they know that I’m having a hard time keeping my floors free from dirt?) 

I set down the mail and picked up the catalog. I was mesmerized.  The girdles of today look NOTHING like the girdles my mother used to make me wear.  There’s one that concentrates on lifting your butt; one to smooth your legs, and one for lifting your breasts.  There’s even a whole body girdle that promises to slim and smooth all my bumpy parts at once! 

I had to find these Spanx and try them on just to see if they worked.  I jumped in my car and drove straight to the mall.

Heading for the intimate section of a store I looked specifically for Spanx but couldn’t find that particular brand, however there were plenty of other brands that had very similar styles, and so I grabbed as many as I could carry and headed to the biggest dressing room I could find. 

First up:  the full body girdle sorry…. ‘body shaper’.  (I’m so stuck in 1981). 

Getting these things on is quite the challenge.  It took me over 5 minutes to yank and pull and I was darn near out of breath by the time I pulled it up over my shoulders. Looking at myself in the mirror I wondered, ‘how exactly is this supposed to make me look better?  I can still see every roll. The only difference is, now they’re all uniformly beige in color!’

Next, I tried on the ones that look like bike shorts, except these have butt lifts in the back (no joke!).  They did make my butt look perky, but when I went to move around a bit, the waist band began to roll down my stomach a bit.  Not good. 

Finally, I tried the thigh slimmer, butt booster, waist whittler all-in-one.  This one looks like the previous one, except there’s extra fabric that comes all the way up to the ribs.  I’m assuming it’s purpose is to help eliminate that rolling I was talking about.  Hmm.  So far, so good.  I went to sit down on the bench and see how comfortable it was.  As soon as I sat down, the fabric at the bottom of my thighs began rolling UP.  *Sigh*

Okay, ladies – time to help a gal out.  So many questions…..

First:  how many of you admit that you actually wear one of these contraptions, and more importantly, are they comfortable? 

Do they work?

How do you keep these things in place?  Have you ever tried on one that won’t stay put? 

…and most importantly:  how do you know what size to get?  I have tried on my size according to the charts and it was so tight, it felt like I was being prepped for a mummy display at the Museum of Natural History. 

…stopping now…..temples throbbing. 

Pour forth any words of wisdom for this almost 43 year old woman who clearly doesn’t know how to shop in today’s world.  I’m listening. 

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  1. I got a couple of span styles several years ago when I had to dress for some weddings. They sure did help suck things in! I have no idea how to know if they fit. But I can tell you that Target carries a brand that is made by the spanx people but much cheaper, just for the store.

    • Ellen says:

      Thanks, Karen. I’ve had several people mention Target to be a good place to start. Since surgery, I have really needed a miracle body shaper to help keep things in place. I’ll be heading there this week. Hope you’re doing well :)

  2. Losing 100 pounds at the age of almost-50 left behind a bit bit of a mess, so when I’m not in my sweats, fleece, or flannel (which is about 1 day a week these days), I do wear a body shaper camisole. I like Target’s Asset brand, which is what I think Karen was referring to above. It doesn’t make anything smaller, but it does keep the jiggles under control. :)

    • Ellen says:

      Checking out this brand, Cammy. Lots of people seem to be aware of it – I must be climbing out from a cave, cause I’d never heard of it before! Fingers crossed!

  3. Brenda says:

    I only own 1 pair of ‘spanx inspired’ undies that have a strong control panel in the front that I purchased at target. I wear them when I am wearing slacks/skirts.
    I just purchased mine a few years ago (probably when I was 39 or so), you poor thing having your mom introduce you to them at 8! When I had to start using “the thick pads under the sink”, my mom handed me a ‘belt’ that went with them that held them ‘in place’..I had to show her finally at the store that they sell SLIMMER ones with adhesive strips on the bottom. This was the mid 80’s and she was still buying those huge thick monsters lol

    • Ellen says:

      Oh, geez – the dreaded ‘belt’. Boy, when we think back, it’s a wonder we were able to move at all! I think my sister got stuck wearing the belt. Thankfully I didn’t have to worry about that one. lol

  4. This is one of those instances where you get what you pay for, and Spanx is the brand you want! I’ve tried them all, because before my surgery, my skin was all over the place. The only one that worked well was Spanx brand. I liked the bike shorts-type, that went all the way up to my rib cage–and it came with little straps that you could hook to your bra if you want, to keep them up (but they stay up very well even without those). Thankfully, after my body lift, I don’t need to use them anymore–but they really do work well!

    • Ellen says:

      I was hoping to hear from you regarding this topic, Katie. I remember you mentioning that you had something like this to wear when you were dressed up. I bet you’re thrilled that you don’t have to worry about that anymore! That is truly something to celebrate :)

  5. Caron says:

    I agree with your description of the girdle even though I have never worn one. Our home economics teacher was fond of saying that “Nice girls don’t jiggle.” I am happy that my generation rebelled against girdles. Of course, some of them also stopped wearing bras which is not a good idea in my opinion. Now, that we are are older and “wiser” I see that the very people who rebelled are joining in the spanx revolution. Maybe because it isn’t called a girdle?

    When pantyhose came out, it was a love/hate relationship because I found them very hard to get on and wear but I did kind of like that they smoothed me out a bit. I own one pair of panty hose that were last worn at my daughter’s wedding in June of 2010. The home economics teacher (bless her heart) would have been so disappointed. :)

    • Ellen says:

      nice girls don’t jiggle. That is pretty funny. They’d have a coronary if they saw how many jiggly parts there are walking around now, wouldn’t they? lol
      Thank you for your comment and the walk down memory lane :)

  6. Your post reminded me of another Spanxs post: http://crappypictures.com/i-tried-on-spanx-and-almost-called-911/. HILARIOUS!

    Like with my jeans and bras, I was fitted for shapewear at Nordstrom. Those girls know what they’re doing! Mine is the all in one thing that is shorts length and goes all the way up my ribs. It is grippy around the thighs so that it prevents rolling. I’ve only worn it twice since I’ve gotten it because I enjoy breathing. Maybe you can opt for a larger size for daily use, cuz breathing is good!

    • Ellen says:

      Jenn, thank you for that link! I’m trying to find one that I think will cover all my bases at once. I didn’t know there were SO many to choose from! I might just have to go to Nordstrom and let them tell me what I need. MUCH easier that way (unless there’s free return shipping, of course!)

  7. Roxie says:

    I don’t have actual Spanx brand shapers – I call everything of that ilk Spanx, much like I call facial tissue Kleenex. I have a variety of the items – TJMAXX, Marshalls, etc is a great place to buy them. I don’t have a problem with them rolling on me but I do buy size large, even though I wear 6/8 pants.

    Yesterday was a story unto itself – I have a “slinky” dress to take to Aruba – well, without some strategically placed spandex, the view from the rear looks like two cats in a tote sack headed for the river. So I bought a one piece bra/shaper/slip contraption and made the mistake (once!) of trying to put it on OVER my head. I thought I was going to have to call a neighbor to help me extricate myself from it’s stranglehold.

    I have worn only support hose/control top panty hose since Leggs invented them. As a youth, I got safety pins – not a belt nor a girdle.

    • Ellen says:

      Ooh – I didn’t even think about TJMaxx or Marshalls. Hmm…..I may have to go there first. They always have good deals on name brand stuff. Thank you for thinking of that!

  8. I have tried SO many of these types of under garments and in the end, I hated them all. They either (as you experienced) rolled up or down in all the wrong places or they made me look…unnatural…with clothes on. Not to mention uncomfortable. I even had one that attached to my bra so it wouldn’t roll down and went all the way down my thighs. It had a supposedly “convenient” crotch opening that allowed the wearer to pee without having to take the whole thing off (which also means you have to take off the dress you’re wearing too). Yeah right.

    • Ellen says:

      Your description sounds like the type of thing I’d be faced with, Karen. Just a series of mishaps that make me pray there’s not a security camera staff watching as I fight and curse my way in and out of those monsters.

  9. tree peters says:

    You are sooo funny!!!
    Spanx… yep. I wore one on my wedding 7 years ago and that was about it.
    Stephen and I saw the woman who invented them on one of the first The Apprentice’s when it was still just real people. She had already invented them.
    Well, she didn’t need Trump. Stephen just told me that she’s the first female Billionaire!!! From holding in the jiggly bits!!
    So I’m pretty sure many, many women wear them. I think men probably do to. For sure they do in L.A. (ha ha…)
    I really wonder about those full body ones… where does it go? Have you seen those cheap crappy plastic toys that you squeeze and the eyes pop out? And then if you keep squeezing they super-pop out? That’s what I keep expecting to happen with Spanx.

    • Ellen says:

      I think I resembled one of those eye-popping toys when I was at the store trying these things on! I’ll tell you where they go – they MOVE – either up or down, but they’re there. Kind of like toothpaste in the tube. lol

  10. Beth says:

    I used to have a cheap pair that went from my rib cage down to my thighs and I hated them. They rolled up at the legs and down at the rib cage. I finally bought an expensive pair of “spanx” this fall when I bought the cutest little red dress at a “Betty Paige” store this fall in Minnesota. This dress showed EVERY roll and dimple! When I put those spanx on they all just magically smoothed out! Didn’t really flatten my stomach, but it sure did look better! I wear them with pants and skirts and no more underwear lines and no more dimples and no more rolls! And when I get home from work I can’t wait to peel those suckers off!

    • Ellen says:

      so, you have a genuine pair of Spanx? I’m glad to hear that they actually worked for you, Beth! I am on the market for one. I wish someone would just sponsor me to try one out for free so I didn’t have to go shopping for it. I think I used every curse word imaginable in that dressing room.

  11. Lisa Stalsworth says:

    Spanx made a line of maternity hosiery when I was pregnant and I bought a pair of hose made by them. They were atrociously expensive, but fit wonderfully and were so incredibly durable that I felt they were totally worth the price.
    Lucky for me I was raised by a rebel mother who refused to do what her mother asked, and I am sure my grandmother tried to get her in girdles. No girdles in my childhood, although they may have been needed. If I buy one, I’ll try a Spanx first.
    You can go to the website to find where to purchase Spanx, that’s how I found mine. They really make great products.

    • Ellen says:

      Lisa, thank you for the advice on the Spanx. Their catalog looked really impressive – just very overwhelming because of ALL the different options they have. I am on the hunt, though. Fingers crossed!

  12. Laura N says:

    Hi Ellen. Found your blog from Vickie.

    I ONLY wear dress pants/skirts/dresses with Assets. I’ve worn them for years, and before that always wore control top panty hose. A year or so ago I started wearing the high waisted ones, which stay put on me and get rid of muffin top and which I LOVE (before that I just covered up the belly roll from the regular waist band with sweaters or loose shirts). Don’t wear them with jeans or khakis. In the winter I wear the tights; in warm weather I wear footless. The thigh lenght stay put on me when I get the right size; too small and they roll up.

    I am very self conscious about my saddle bags. These things have saved my self esteem a million times over.

    • Ellen says:

      Hi, Laura! Thank you for stopping by and letting me know your thoughts on Assets. I’m glad to hear that they really do work. Now, to find my correct size and decide which one to buy!

  13. debby says:

    LOL, you are so funny. When I lost all my weight, I was very self conscious about the lumpiness. I got a ‘body shaper’ from Walmart, and I might have gotten it bigger than ‘my size.’ But it stays up (and down–no rolling) from right under my bra-line to the top of my knees. It just makes things a tiny bit smoother under my dresses.

    • Ellen says:

      I think the one you’re describing is the one most people have commented on owning. Those seem to stay in place the most, and that’s what I need. I simply hate those things that roll up or cut off the circulation. Thanks, Debby :)

  14. Norma says:

    Wait, what? Your mom is a celebrity? What’d I miss? :)

    I am unacquainted with Spanx but I do have some “body smoothing” black tights that I wear from November – March with my “holiday” or “nice” attire of clingy-knit type dresses and skirts.

    • Ellen says:

      Yes, I am the daughter of a very well known person, Norma – and I’m still very down to earth and grounded 😉
      Body smoothing is where its at in my future. I’m sure I’ll be posting when I find ‘The One’

  15. Hanlie says:

    I’m just going to go for the earth mother image and jiggle. I can’t see myself in those contraptions. Besides, I heard it’s not good for the digestion to wear such tight garments. And, i live in Africa – it’s far too hot!

    • Ellen says:

      Now, that is a comment from a woman who knows what she’s willing to put up with! I admire that, Hanlie. The ones I’ve tried really are awful. I think I’m probably getting the wrong sizes, though. Oh, I can’t imagine having on one of those things under my clothes living in Africa. Do you have brutal winters there?

  16. didi says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post. Oh, how funny. I never knew what the hell a girdle was until I was living in Sarasota, and my aunt was saying something about girdles. When she told me what girdles were, I was all “Oh, you mean Spanx. Yeah, I wear those all the time.” Haha.
    I love love love Spanx, and always wear them under skirts and dresses. I will buy the Spanx brand, or the Assets (tee hee hee) kind that is sold at Target and a few other stores. Yeah, they fit tightly, and you kinda have to just get used to ’em, or maybe buy a size up instead. They make them with attached panty hose, and I am crazy about those kind. Since the hose are attached the thighs can’t roll up ever- although I only get rolling up of the thighs once the things get really old and worn. Cheaper types aren’t worth buying. They always roll all over the place and never stay up well. I prefer the high waisted.

  17. Marion says:

    So funny! I decided some time while reading down that comments that these things aren’t for me! 😀

    :-) Marion

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