Sometimes people ask how I came to be the advice maven I am today. Truth be told, a lot of the advice that shows up on askpiper comes from the land of “Don’t do what i did.” When I learn things, I learn them the hard way.
Case in point: recently I delved, for the first time, into the world of ‘shapewear.’ For those of you who do triathlons, are 12 years old or have last names ending in ‘hova,’ ‘lova’ or ‘kova,’ allow me to explain: shapewear is undergarment torture, usually fashioned from a man-made (emphasis on the man) material. Elastic, Spandex, Lycra, Teflon, Pyrex, Adamantium. Slither into one of these putty-colored body shapers and you become a walking, talking (forget about breathing) flammable femme who has transformed her body into a gravity-defying wonder. Want to boost your booty? Want to nip your waist? Want to relocate your lady lumps from your mid-section to your top-section? It’s all possible once you get your passport stamped in Shapewear Land.
Now, it wasn’t willingly that I stepped into the mysterious world of shapewear. I’m a size 4 and normally don’t care too much if a lump here or a bump there gives away my penchant for cheesecake. But, there’s this thing I have to put on in a few weeks and it changes everything–a wedding dress. Silk doesn’t hide much, and neither does a bias cut. Add to that the pressure of the runway, er, I mean aisle, and 175 of my closest friends and family all sizing up my backside and suddenly I found myself in that special department in Bloomingdale’s reserved for masochists.
So, here’s some advice for a maiden voyage to the shapewear department…don’t do what I did.
1. Don’t drink beforehand. 1.5 Bloody Marys will bloat whatever it is you’re trying to compress. They will mess with your perception of what you see in the mirror. And, more importantly, they will screw up your balance. And balance you will need, my lady friends, as you stand on one foot and contort your leg into a sausage-like encasing that’s part thigh-shaper, part tourniquet.
2. Don’t eat beforehand. If you must, maybe go for a smoothie or some miso soup. I absolutely, categorically do not recommend a swedish pancake.
3. Don’t go when it’s hotter than hell. The hotter it is, the more your body fights to avoid dehydration. So, if it’s 101-degrees outside it doesn’t matter how much water you drink, you’re gonna puff up. And you’re gonna be slimy and sweaty; elastic and slime don’t mix very well. You won’t be able to slide into a nude colored Skinny Britches as the tag encourages…you’ll have to wrestle it to the ground and have your way with, forcing it into submission within a stitch of its life.
4. Don’t watch the transition. When you struggle from one piece of shapewear to the other, don’t face the mirror. Turn around. Spare yourself the transformation. There’s nothing pretty about watching a coyote bite its leg off to escape a trap.
I did do one thing right, though. I brought along a friend who’s versed in the language of cinching, lifting, boosting, shaping, rounding, smooshing and separating. She became my Shapewear Coach, encouraging me when I thought I just couldn’t carry on. “Bend over. Pull harder. Squat. You can do it! See? Look where you ass is now!” Her support helped me make it to the finish line: aka the register. Now, if I’ll really wear this stuff come nuptial day remains to be seen.