By Monica S. Meyer
Close your eyes. Remember when you were in your 20’s and early 30’s, and you saw your body as an elegantly-shaped hourglass? You had full, perky breasts, a tiny waist, and voluptuous hips – a figure sought after by the opposite sex. Maybe you’ve been lucky. Maybe you’ve worked hard. Maybe you still have that same shape today. Unfortunately, for most of us who are 35 and older, that idealized image of the hourglass isn’t visible when we open our eyes and look at ourselves today. Instead, we see breasts that are sagging, waists that have expanded, and hips – heaven forbid – that are narrower than our waists.
Back in the day, I can remember my grandmothers each having a beautiful hourglass shape. I often thought to myself, “I hope I have that same shape at their age.” Of course, I didn’t realize that their shapes, which had been created in their primes by their natural attributes alone, later became illusions maintained only through the torture of corsets and girdles.
Not only did those garments look scary, but my grandmothers explained that for corsets to work properly someone else had to lace them up to ensure they’d be sufficiently tight to shrink their waists. They told me that when their corsets were laced to their tightest, they felt like they were holding their breath all day long. Though envious of the results, I would wonder, “Why do women have to suffer so much to look so good?”
As I got older I became more curious about my grandmothers’ corsets and girdles, and kept wondering why such intelligent women would wear such things. When I asked them about it, they always said, “Because when we wear girdles, it gives us the illusion of having that hourglass shape we lost with age.” I remember thinking that if somehow the corset became unlaced, or the girdle split apart, a button or two could be launched with great speed from their clothing and injure an innocent by-stander. Then, the whole world would find out that their shapes were just illusions.
Now I find myself trying to do the same thing – create for myself an illusion of a younger woman with an hourglass figure. Of course, I’ve been trying to find garments that are more comfortable than the girdles and corsets my grandmothers wore.
Fortunately, the intimate apparel industry has changed a lot over the years, and makes products today that are very different from those belonging to our grandmothers’ era. Back then, harsh-sounding terms like “girdle” were used. Today, the terms have softened to match the comfort of newer products like briefs, hi-waist long legs, bodybriefers, camis, torsettes, and more. Not only have the fabrics and construction techniques been softened, but other innovations have been developed that, for example, allow garments to adjust in the rise to fit women of differing torso lengths, enable waistlines and leg openings to stay in place without producing lines that show through clothes, and make possible great control with the use of only one ply of fabric.
Suddenly, all my fears about wearing control garments have faded. Innovations have made shapewear much more comfortable, and at the same time added significant variety to the products available. We have a greater choice than ever of fabrics, silhouettes, and levels of control.
Wow! I can have an hourglass figure without having to enlist the help of my husband to get my garment on, or feeling like I can’t breathe when I’m wearing the shapewear silhouette of my choice.
Come on ladies, what more can we ask for? We now have panties that won’t ride up and won’t create lines, and shapewear that’s both functional and comfortable. Maybe, with a lot of innovation and a little bit of luck, some company out there just might finally do the impossible – make high heels that are comfortable! Wouldn’t that be just delicious?