There are many things you can do to show someone you love them. You can write a heartfelt letter. You can hold their hand while they’re getting the flu shot, even if they’re almost 40 and are way past the age of needing to be consoled for a little pinch. You can cook a meal that doesn’t involve the use of a microwave.
You can also wear Spanx.
When I received the invitation for my brother’s wedding, I was filled with happiness — here he was getting ready to start his life with the woman of his dreams. But then I noticed something on the invitation that changed that feeling of happiness to a feeling of sheer panic — the dress code read, “Cocktail Attire.”
I’ve never been very good at the typical female stuff. At 34 years old, I still can’t apply mascara correctly, no matter how many tutorials I watch online, my cooking skills often leave my family fleeing for the nearest McDonald’s, and I couldn’t walk in high heels if my life depended on it. As such, I don’t wear dresses, hence that feeling of panic when I saw that cocktail attire was expected.
Since one’s baby brother only gets married once, I knew I’d have to suck it up and find something that would fall under the cocktail attire umbrella. When the wedding date got close, I spent the afternoon shopping for dresses. I found a couple that were tolerable, but I noticed something — the dresses looked rather lumpy in the stomach region. I checked out the racks and found something for tummy control: Spanx. I’ve never bought those before, so when I held it up against myself I was kind of skeptical, as it looked rather small. The tag claimed it was my size, so I bought it anyway.
When I got home, it was time to model my dresses. I wasn’t feeling terribly enthusiastic about it, but I was curious to see how smooth my tummy region would be with the addition of the Spanx. As I held it up again, I still had my doubts — how on earth were my thighs supposed to go into that thing?
It really seemed impossible, but I reminded myself that it was supposed to be my size and stepped in and started pulling it up. Slightly above my knee, things got dicey. The Spanx no longer wanted to be pulled up. I sucked my breath in — because apparently this helps with getting things over one’s thighs — and pulled. And pulled. And pulled.
I got it up over my thighs and then my hips. The belly was the easy part. One more tug and it was on — success! The feeling I got after stuffing myself in the Spanx wasn’t unlike the feeling I had after delivering my firstborn.
As tough as it was to put on the Spanx, I had to admit that it really did make a difference with how the dresses looked. After I admired myself for a few minutes, it was time to remove everything. I thought taking off the Spanx would be easier than putting it on, but no. I needed whatever the equivalent to the jaws of life was to remove it. My husband watched the train wreck with much amusement, because 11 years of marriage means you don’t have to fake concern anymore.
I briefly considered taking a picture of myself wearing the Spanx and putting it in a card and telling my brother to consider that his wedding gift, but I bought something off the registry instead.
— Erika Watts
Erika Watts is a stay-at-home-mom to two kids. When she isn’t busy refereeing screaming matches or burning supper, she works part-time as a freelance writer. She is also the creator of Dorky Mom Doodles, a humor blog that chronicles her parenting and other life experiences and is illustrated with bad doodles. Her work has been featured on Scary Mommy and WordPress Discover.