Sometimes, I glance at my reflection and think “Ugh, woman. Get thee to the gym and put on some makeup.” Sometimes, I’ll look at myself and think, “You sexy bitch MILF cougar,” (or leopard, or whatever cat-word people use to describe hotsy-totsy women of a certain age). Like many of us, I’m my own worst critic, wanting to look younger, thinner, or smoother.

I recently had occasion to wear a slinky dress–the kind of thing that looks great if you don’t have any lumpy, bumpy, or jiggly bits. And, listen up bitches, if you don’t have at least one unwanted jiggly spot, we can’t be friends. Truthfully, I think most of my figure problems live in my own mind, but that said, I decided the answer to my jiggle issues could be found in the ladies lingerie department. Spandex would be my friend.

I darted through the gauntlet of matchy-matchy bras and panties, past the man-pleaser frillies (and those weird little rubber stick-on thingies that women with no boobs wear when they want to achieve the braless look), and into the no-nonsense corner with the discreet “shapewear” sign.

Shapewear is a polite word for girdle, right? We can say bodyshaper all day long but we all know it’s a freakin’ girdle. No pretty colors here, just nude, white, basic black. The message was loud and clear: we mean business with your underwear.

Once I convinced the lady with three tape measures looped around her various body parts that, no, I didn’t need a complimentary fitting for “foundation garments” thankyouverymuch, I pawed through the selection of spandex designed to lift, separate and suck in your various problem areas. I decided a support tank was the ticket. It looked innocent enough, like a normal tank (although picking it up might count as a workout; this shit was made of some serious armor).

All the better to compress your back fat, my dear.

I bought my fat armor without road testing it, mostly because tape measure lady was eyeballing me in a way that freaked me out a little. She looked like she couldn’t wait to get her measuring tapes on me, and I have enough body anxiety without raising my hand to be prodded by a stranger whose goal was to custom fit me for sensible over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders.  The idea of having my squishy bits poked and measured in the harsh dressing room light made me a little twitchy, so I whipped out the plastic and sealed the deal.  I was now the proud owner of a girdle.  Err… shapewear.

I took my new support tank home and threw it in the drawer until launch day. Naturally, I was in a hurry and sweaty when it came time to suit up. Rushed and damp are not good things to be when you are trying to wiggle your jelly into squeezy armor. Or a support tank. Or a girdle.

There were some serious contortions going on behind the bathroom floor. Getting into this thing required moves worthy of a 13-year-old double-jointed gymnast.

I spotted a bottle of hand lotion on my vanity and seriously considered greasing myself up to make this thing slide on easier. I remembered the tube of stuff that starts with “K” and ends with “Y” in the drawer beside my bed and wondered if that might work better. Yes, I really thought about this. I was late and getting a little desperate.

My husband was impatiently waiting on the other side of the locked door, asking “what the hell’s going on in there” about every 3o seconds. I am not a bathroom door locker but there was no way he was getting an eyeful of this. “For better or worse” be damned… I knew the effect just wouldn’t be the same if my dearly beloved saw my sweaty ass trying to shimmy into this tank top that would surely make me look fabulous. And yeah…the label said “Made in Bangladesh” but that shit wasn’t fooling me. There was only one place this thing could have come from and it’s considerably further south.

Imagine squeezing extra-small sweatpants over a size large ass. The laws of physics say possible. The law of Jill says don’t try it at home.

I managed to get this garment of Satan on without dislocating my shoulder, which is a small miracle. I was completely covered with sweat. I needed a blow dryer, more deodorant, fresh make-up, and a shot of vodka. Maybe two shots.  The party I’d been looking forward to all week held about as much appeal as a pap smear.  I was exhausted and disheveled and beating myself up about the cookies I’d had for lunch.

Now safely ensconced, I admired my Lycra encased midsection and thought “hmm, not bad”…then I decided to breathe. Big mistake. The bottom of the tank snapped up like a window shade, coming to a sudden and alarming stop underneath my rib.  This malfunction left a squishy ball of stomach flab desperately looking for a home. I tugged my errant top back into position. There. It looked great until I moved…then my fat armour rolled back up even higher this time and landed under my ta-tas, not serving the purpose of making me look smooth and shapely.  At all.

I tried everything to make the damn thing stay put, stopping short of using a safety pin to connect it to my underwear or crafting some sort harness out of duct tape. Come on, I have my limits, people.

In the end, I ditched the shapewear in favor of some supportive granny panties. Maybe they didn’t hold it all in, but I was able to breathe, smile, dance and most importantly, to rock my frock–jiggly bits and all.

My takeaways: One, you can’t have fun if you’re overly worried about your underwear getting twisted – literally or figuratively. And two, spandex is the devil’s fabric.

Spandex monster – 0. Jill – 1.


Jill writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. She has a degree in social psychology that she uses to try and make sense out of the behavior of her husband and three children but it hasn't really helped so far. She enjoys dry humor and has a love/hate relationship with running. Her writing has also been featured on Huffington Post, Babble, Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, and Mamalode. Jill is a BlogHer 2015 Voice of the Year and willingly answers any questions that end with “and would you like wine with that?” Hang out with Jill on Facebook. and Twitter.


  1. Ohh girl, you know from my book title how I feel about spandex! Pretty much EVERYTHING in my wardrobe has 80% spandex in it. I LOVE your description of the tank top snapping back up like a window shade! Brilliant!

    • Thank you! I really should throw that thing away…I found it in my drawer the other day. It mocks me….

  2. lol. This is a good one, Jill! I have been there. I shimmied and contorted myself into a pair of Spanx one time. I lasted about 2 minutes in them when I felt compelled to say, out loud: “fuck this!” I really couldn’t handle the constrictive nature of them. Yuck. It would ruin my night having to wear them. I can’t suffer for fashion or vanity. I need comfort.

  3. Great post! Been there, sweated that. Pro-tip, never put your make up on before the spandex b/c that shit will run from all the sweating.

  4. i bought a pair of Spanx after giving birth to my daughter. My parents threw a big party to announce her birth and I wanted to look nice AND thin…which was completely unrealistic looking back. Who has a flat stomach 5 weeks after having a baby? Not me. I put those $80 Spanx bastards on and could only stand in one position: upright and uptight. I swear the only thing that ‘shape wear’ did was make for excellent posture. However, after about 15 minutes of not being able to breathe (or move/exhale/talk/eat/drink), I said screw it and ripped those fuckers off. I didn’t want to die a Spanx Death due to lack of air supply. That is NOT how I see myself going out. I need something a bit more fun than that.

  5. I make myself fit those fat suckers and then once I am out and have had at least some shots or a few beers I go to the bathroom and rip that baby off and let is jiggly because at that point.. I don’t care. Good idea w the KY!

  6. Hoo, boy. I can sympathize with this so hard. I bought one of those miracle suits (I think it was from Victoria’s Secret?) that works the same way – holds you all in and smooths everything out. It’s made from the toughest spandex I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s a one-piece so you’re squeezing your whole body through there, which takes a hell of a lot of effort. As much as I’ve considered purchasing shapewear for under certain clothing, I worry about being able to get back out of it once I’ve gotten it on.

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