I have been contained. I have been Spanxed.
Unto us a store is born. The very first Spanx store in the country opened in Tysons Corner last month, right on the heels of Hurricane Sandy (“The Spanx must go on,” the news release read, even if, perhaps, the power was off). Just in time for us to address the endless platters of Christmas snacks that have affixed the holiday season to our rear ends.
Since the Tysons Corner debut, two more stores have appeared — one at the King of Prussia Mall in the Philadelphia exurbs, and one in Paramus, N.J. If these stores do well, others will follow. And Spanx always does well. Forbes magazine estimated its 2011 revenue at $250 million and crowned the company’s founder as the youngest self-made woman on its annual list of billionaires. Time magazine named her one of its 100 most influential people of 2012.
For Spanx is — what is Spanx?
Short answer: The brand is one of dozens that specialize in corralling moving parts.
Long answer: Somewhere along the way (maybe when Oprah anointed them one of her “favorite things”?) Spanx became, like Xerox or Kleenex, the specific that stands for the generic, the Thing that stands for the thing. In industry speak, Spanx is “shapewear” or “foundational garments.” But it’s sassy shapewear. Playful, like something worn or administered in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Spanx! Zing!
They “really do make my stomach look flatter, keeping the bulges in and stopping them from wobbling unattractively,” writes one Spanx reviewer on the girly site MakeupAlley.com. “I’ve also noticed that thanks to the longer shape extending to mid-thigh my thighs don’t splay out as much when I sit down.”
“I was really in the mood to shop, and I really wanted to try Spanx,” writes a poster on another site. “I was feeling particularly brave today.”
This poster is a man. A cross-dressing man, joyful over his first public foray into trying on women’s undergarments. “The Spanx camisole is really comfortable,” he writes, and of the overall shopping expedition: “Best experience ever.”
It’s a touching story.
It’s a funny story.
It’s a story that suggests that purchasing Spanx gets at some very visceral notion of what it means, today, to be a woman.
Lord, this holiday season, rid me of jiggle. Make me smooth.
Fact: In America, if you can fit into a Size 4 — even if you have to wriggle, squeeze, bind, paint and pray yourself into it (even if the seams strain and threaten to burst) — you are a Size 4.