The Problem That Spanx Covers Up

Spanx before and after. Credit: CottonTrendy

Spanx before and after. Credit: CottonTrendy

Spanx, the body-shaping undergarment brand, opened its first storefront at the end of November in McLean, Virginia. Spanx and similar garments have primarily been sold in department and clothing stores. Now, the company hopes to compete with Victoria’s Secret to become a brand for the “everywoman.” Hooray! Right?

Spanx has been famously used by women to shape their bodies by smothering flab and slimming unwanted bulge. That’s not to say it’s used primarily by heavy women; even some normal-bodied women enjoy Spanx to shape curves.

I’m all for a brand that boosts the self-confidence and body image of women. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. And in a nice move, Spanx has positioned itself as the more everyday competitor to Victoria’s Secret.

But here’s the problem with Spanx: it encourages the everyday woman to think she needs body-shaping. It still nonetheless reinforces the idea that her natural body isn’t quite good enough. She may not be able to attain the angel ideal of Victoria’s Secret, but she still needs something to fix those body flaws.

Remember the Dove ad campaign that promotes “real” women and uses models that are not of the industry’s thin standards? The Dove Campaign for Real Women, as it’s called, “started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable,” according to Dove’s website.

While Spanx takes the time to broaden that definition by inviting everyday women into its stores, the brand may still makes them think they’re not quite up to standard.

As the BusinessWeek article states,

“The sale here isn’t sexiness. Rather it’s about looking healthy and fit—even for those who are neither—and self-affirmation.”

Well. As long as ladies continue to look the part, right?


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