Narrow minds seeking narrow waists

Columnist Alexis Sachdev comments on the use of SlimT’s and Spanx. During a bout of insomnia Thursday night, I settled into bed with a mug of chamomile tea and a two-hour marathon of “Sex and

Columnist Alexis Sachdev comments on the use of SlimT’s and Spanx.

During a bout of insomnia Thursday night, I settled into bed with a mug of chamomile tea and a two-hour marathon of “Sex and the City” reruns. Just before Carrie’s first run-in with Mr. Big, a commercial premiered advertising a new product for men – the SlimT.

For only $19.95, men can purchase a white undershirt crafted with a slimming spandex blend to slice pounds off the beer-and-pizza guts they have been perfecting for 30-plus years once their quarterback-king reign ended after graduating college.

Products like the SlimT and its female counterpart, Spanx, are just two products in the growing world of shapewear designed to gloss over figure flaws, tighten abdomens and thighs and relieve your trunk of a little junk.

When Spanx founder Sara Blakely created her monumental product in 2000, women across the nation flocked to department stores faster than if Taylor Lautner was giving out free back rubs. Oprah Winfrey featured it on her annual “Oprah’s Favorite Things” episode in 2000, and InStyle magazine voted it to be the best body-enhancing invention ever in 2007, tied with elastic waist jeans and narrowly defeating pushup bras.

These and similar products beg the question, “Is it pragmatic to invest in one (or several)”? Sure, shapewear is available in a variety of brands and strengths for various uses (this sounds more like super glue than clothing) and at a wide range of prices, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the implications behind purchasing industrial-strength spandex tubing are honest or good.

If anything, products like the SlimT and Spanx are, if not contributing to, at least condoning the increasing levels of obesity in our nation. The average American male weighs just under 195 pounds, and women weigh in at approximately 165 pounds. Unfortunately, these numbers and our waistlines are growing steadily.

Throughout the 1990s, weight loss pills such as Hoodia and Trimspa gained popularity. The promise of losing weight encouraged Americans to get off their corduroy La-Z-Boy-recliners and maintain healthy diets and exercise regimes in addition to the supplements. When “Joe the Couch Potato” eventually lost some inches off his spare tire – Hallelujah! Clearly, the supplements and not maintaining a balanced diet and cardio routine did this.

Then Anna Nicole Smith died.

Former weight loss supplement devotees found themselves without a blonde and bronze savior who overcame obesity. Instead of realizing the scam behind drugs such as Ephedra and Hoodia, which supposedly decrease appetite, overweight Americans searched once more for a new beacon of light around which to rally instead of the refrigerator.

Welcome to my greatest grievance against shapewear.

The SlimT’s slogan, “you have nothing to lose but inches,” is only marginally misleading. You don’t actually lose inches, but you can give the appearance of doing so. Apparently, appearances are more important than achievement.

Buying into weight loss panaceas is stupid – all you will end up losing is money. You might also sacrifice some pride, but hell, who cares about that these days?

As with everything in life, it’s all about balance. Real people don’t have “perfect figures,” mostly because that aloof notion doesn’t exist. Real people have real bodies, and for that reason, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to gloss over the aftermath of your recent chocolate binge after an emotional breakdown. But it has to be balanced.

Go ahead, eat that bacon cheeseburger – I know I want to. Just remember to work a little harder in your Zumba class on Friday. I’m also not recommending becoming a juiced-up gym junkie, which in my eyes is psychologically damaging. I’m not as skinny as a twig, but I’m not Shamu either. I’m happy with myself and my body, and that’s all that matters.

It’s just like that lipstick-on-a-pig diatribe I gave last year: Squeezing your body into ghastly spandex tubing doesn’t make you skinny, sexy or confident. Underneath it all, you’re still insecure. But loving yourself and being good to your body – your real body – that’s from where true beauty and confidence emanate.

Besides, no dress, dude or date is worth depriving your brain and legs of oxygen. For those who disagree, I think you have bigger problems than your weight.

Alexis Sachdev can be reached at

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