The shape of things to come

I normally don’t follow fashion news. With the pandemic, I have had no need of new clothes. Zoom fashion has added longevity to my business clothing.

Pop star Lizzo has launched a new line of shapewear, called Yitty, and the line will have sizing from 6X to XS. (Yes, that formatting is deliberate.)

Back in the day, when I was a youngster, shapewear was limited two items, usually a girdle and a bra that literally trussed your body like a turkey ready for Thanksgiving.

Spandex really revolutionized shapewear and instead of being focused on smoothing things out (anyone remember the horrors of the VPL, or Visible Panty Line?) and giving breasts a lift up, shapewear really moved into hyperdrive mode to force your body into a shape that could wear the available fashions, instead of fashions working with your natural shape.

Spanx, a leading shapewear brand, earned $15 million in 2002 to an astounding $400 million in 2014. Often called form-fitting, shapewear is tight and Spanx was no exception. Jokes abounded even as the company’s profits soared. Here’s one of my favourites:

I’ve written about my battles with sports bras so I empathize with the challenges of putting on shapewear. I put up with sports bras because I need the support. I’ve not often seen the need for shapewear except for those occasions when you want a seamless look to your dress or pantsuit.

But I do wonder about shapewear that squishes everything to achieve a smaller look. After all, the pre 20th-century women who cinched their waists with their corsets and stays did experience problems breathing and long-term use could not have been good.

There’s a lot of baggage to unpack in shapewear, and even if it is available in a wide size range and it reflects an ethos of agency, I feel conflicted. If you get into weights, lots of us still get messages about not getting bulky. Then you go to a store and the fashion message is buy shapewear so you don’t show your rolls, your poochy stomach, or heaven forbid, any saggy arms or thighs.

Lizzo’s been focused on body positivity, especially for the plus and super plus size set and she is known for pushing back against changing your body to fit a style or image.

Lizzo intends to make pieces that every single body can feel good in, whether that means under clothing or as clothing itself. “I’m selling a mentality that ‘I can do what I want with my body, wear what I want and feel good while doing it,” she said.

Lizzo’s tag line states it’s for every damn body, however you want to wear her clothing — inside, outside etc. I like that, given how hard it is to find fun, funky and pretty clothing above size 18. From what I’ve seen it looks lovely and who doesn’t want to wear something that makes you feel fine? I know I do. Hopefully, we will see more body-positive clothing in the future.

MarthaFitat55 lives and writes in St. John’s. She has lost every battle in taking off shapewear and finally decided ten years ago to stop.

3 thoughts on “The shape of things to come

  1. I totally hate the society we live in that says that shapeware is a great thing and allows people to smooth themselves out so they can wear clothes, instead of just wearing clothes that fit. I hate the implications that smaller is better and you’d better not be lumpy anywhere other than bum and boobs!
    However I also support people’s right and absolute agency to wear what they want and do whatever they want with your bodies. So if it is going to be a thing, I am glad it is going to be available to anyone who may want it whatever their natural shape or size.

  2. My 32 y/o size 12 daughter has fallen in love with Spanx pants ( leggings she calls them) – saying she doesn’t miss zippers and buttons in the least. For her it’s about comfort and I’m glad she has such a healthy attitude about a clothing choice that makes her feel good.

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