The year was 2003 and I was walking down the aisle for the 6th time. I felt trapped and restricted, dizzy with all eyes on me. Sweat beaded upon my upper lip and I struggled to breathe.
I just didn’t think I could go through with this. Again.
I was a bridesmaid, being strangled by a support garment in front of a crowd of smiling family and friends.
I got through that ceremony, but only just.
After the formalities were over, I dashed to the toilet to relieve myself in more ways than one. And that was where a near-fatally embarrassing event occurred. I had unpeeled myself out of my black, sweaty scuba suit, which was sweet, sweet relief, when the problem made itself fairly evident.
I could not get those bike pants back on.
I was stuck in a toilet cubicle at a fairly fancy restaurant listening to guests’ come and go. I did not recognize anyone’s voices to appeal for some assistance.
Until, I heard the bride.
And she found me, in a toilet cubicle begging for her help. With sheer determination and a little urgency, for the photographer was waiting outside with the rest of the bridal party, she helped me back into the pants of doom and told me that we shall never mention the incident again.
I totally get it. I mean, she was the bride and she had no business hoiking up someone else’s underpants during her wedding in the dunny. It is very un-bride like behavior. She advised me not to drink too much and swept out the door in a cloud of white and crystal, as I stood there thinking, “Well how the f*ck is that going to work…”
Isn’t it a bridesmaid’s duty to get shitfaced and dance the Macarena on a table somewhere?
I had successfully pushed this incident out of my head until it resurfaced, when my attention turned to the latest trend in support wear. The rise of the post-baby girdle.
Girdles, used mostly for postoperative wear by recovering liposuction patients to ensure that the skin tightens properly, are now being embraced by new mothers.
Thanks to celebrities like Jessica Alba, who recently admitted to using corsets to regain her post-baby figure, an increasing number of women are wriggling into the constrictive undergarments.
Brands like Belly Bandit, Bellefit and Hourglass Angel all promise to help shrink the belly, waist and hips; help minimize stretch marks, accelerate the healing process, and decrease bloating and swelling.
Manufacturers advise that for maximum results, you are best off wearing your corset for 24 hours a day, starting from the day you are released from hospital.
Now, when I think back to the day I left hospital, if someone had handed me one of these garments, I think I might have forced it, quite literally, down their throat.
The post-maternity girdle is not dissimilar to the hook and eye numbers of the 1920s, but by the time the 60s rolled around, these girdles got tossed in favour of the under-panty bike short types that come up to your bra strap, much like the ones that tried to kill me back during that wedding.
My main issue with this new trend is simple.
HAVEN’T YOU JUST PUT YOURSELF THROUGH ENOUGH?
One leading support garment manufacturer, Spanx, was born when creator Sara Blakely cut the legs off a bottom of pantyhose one evening, to create a smoother line under her dress. That was back in 2000, and now her company is valued at more than a billion dollars.
That is a lot of wobbly bits being looked after!
But Sara didn’t stop there. In 2010, she launched a men’s line, that she naturally called MANX. This range includes a physique-improving undershirt, which promises “He’ll look sharper, stand taller and feel stronger in his clothes.”
And there is also a range of garments now available for our men friends who have managed to sprout a fine set.
The thing about this whole industry is that it is providing options for those of us with parts of our body that jiggle instead of wiggle. If it makes you feel better, and more confident, I say go for it.
But there are some tips that I will share with you that I have learnt from my own experiences that will avoid you being in the same situation that I was in, which was like trying to shove sausage meat back into it’s casing.
- Try it on before you purchase it. This is where I fell down.
- If you are considering buying a Singlet type garment, beware that mono-boob can become an issue.
- Do not buy bike-panty type support hose if you intend to wear a knee length floaty skirt or dress. Especially if there is even only the slightest hint of breeze in the air.
- Shop around. The most expensive option is not necessarily the best.
- And finally, if you are a novice wearer, consider taking a pair of normal undies in your bag when you go out. It is a bit like eating steak tartar. You are not going to know if it is going to agree with you until you try it.
When it comes to these slight forms of torture, are you in or are you out? Have you ever been injured by something you wore?