By Adam Welsch
In the world of shapewear advertising, no device is more common than the “before-and-after” comparison. Whether in newspaper or magazine advertisements, late night infomercials, lingerie pieces on news programs and talk shows, or segments on television shopping networks, those trying to sell shapewear love to demonstrate the effectiveness of their products by showing what women look like both before putting on the garments and after. Of course, this type of “fit test” is a great way for a consumer to judge the quality of a garment herself when in a fitting room of a store. Since she’s the one trying on the garment, she can control the experiment and make sure it’s a fair comparison. That, of course, isn’t the case when the demonstration is carried out by others through an advertising medium. There are five before-and-after tricks that can be used in print, or on the small screen, to overstate the performance of shapewear on the body, and apparently the temptation to employ these is sometimes irresistible.
So, what should you be on the lookout for?
The emotions of others can have a strong affect on us. Walk into a room full of happy people and their sunny dispositions are quite likely to rub off on you. A shapewear advertiser knows that and knows that if you see a happy model wearing its product, you’re more likely to have a positive impression of that product. Often in ads, not only will the model be all smiles and giggles after putting a garment on, she’s likely to be downright morose beforehand. The key here is to avoid being influenced by someone else’s emotions, especially when they’ve likely been coached to act a certain way. Concentrate on the performance of the shapewear, not on the performance of the model.
2. The Slippery Slope
In almost every before-and-after demonstration using shapewear, the clever advertiser tries to prove the effectiveness of the product by showing how many inches the garment subtracts from a model’s measurement. There’s nothing wrong with doing this – it’s a great way to illustrate performance. The problem is that for the before-and-after measurement comparison to be meaningful, the same part of the body has to be measured both times. Too often, the model’s measurement is first taken at a thicker part of her body (say the upper hips), only to be followed, after emerging from the fitting room, by a measurement around a thinner part of her body in close proximity to the first (the waist, for example). Make sure to keep your eye on exactly where that tape measure is placed both before and after the garment is donned.
3. The Tight Squeeze
Moving the tape measure isn’t the only way to play with before-and-after measurements. An easy way to make a shapewear garment seem more effective is to place the tape measure more loosely around the model before she puts the item on, and more tightly around her when she’s wearing it. This trick may be harder to pick up than The Slippery Slope. An indication that it may be occurring is the appearance of a couple of false starts by the measurer when placing the tape around the model’s body.
4. The Slouch
Just like your mom always told you, nothing’s more unflattering than a slouch. When viewing an ad, make sure to pay attention to the posture of the model. Most of the time, especially when the ad involves a still photo, she’ll stand with her shoulders forward and her stomach out before she tries on the product. This, of course, accentuates any rolls she may have around her middle, and may overstate the apparent effect of gravity on her bust. After putting on the garment, she’ll display a stance that any drill sergeant would be proud of – shoulders back, stomach in, and head held high. Not only will the model appear happier, but her boobs will look perkier and her waist will appear smaller.
5. Shirt Slack
When looking at a model before, and after, she puts on her shapewear, pay close attention to the way in which her shirt or blouse lays on her upper body. Invariably, before going into the fitting room, her top will have lots of slack in it so that every inch is in contact with the contour of her torso. Nothing will be hidden. After putting on the shapewear, however, the blouse will most likely be pulled down as tautly as possible, hiding many of her midsection rolls and giving her a taller, leaner appearance. Though there’s nothing wrong with the neater look, the true performance of the shapewear will be obscured.
Naturally, not all advertising is misleading, and many shapewear products on the market today do a great job of smoothing, shaping, and shrinking various parts of the body. The point to take away is not that you should avoid wearing shapewear; rather, that when considering the purchase of a new style, you should always try it on so that you can see for yourself whether it can transform your unsatisfactory “before” into a shout-from-the-mountain-tops “after .”