By Aline Weiller
I got the Spanx catalog in the mail today. Yes, there is an actual Spanx catalog, showcasing every variation on this magic, modern-day girdle. I’m not sure who tipped off the cellulite police, but there it was, that catalog, in my mailbox, waiting for me to order some form-fitting device made to disguise any hint of motherhood or mid-life. Talk about an AH-HA moment.
Am I at the Spanx stage of my life? Really? Is it not enough that I’m in the throes of peri-menopausal power nesting? Must I be reminded of unfit thighs to boot? Maybe it was a mail mishap, I rationalized. But, no, my name spanned the label in all its glory. Apparently, I was the intended recipient, the proverbial target market. Ugh. I peeled out of the driveway.
It took a King Size Hershey Bar and mani/pedi to lift me from my funk. The salon walls were a cheery pink, but the lighting dim with irony. Younger women at my sides — friends in tennis attire — spoke right through me, their perky words a contrast to my predicament. “I’ve got a great new girl who does my brows, I’ll text you her name,” the blonde with dark roots chirped. “Terrif,” her freckled friend replied.
Suddenly polished, I decided my mailbox epiphany was a positive sign, a gentle reminder I was embarking on a new life chapter. Nails buffed and painted, I stood ready to take on the world, tissue between my toes and all.
Until at a doctor’s office later that day, when once again I was reminded of my mature phase. “Insurance card, please. Is everything the same?” asked the busy receptionist. Yes, except that I’ve entered the Spanx demographic, I thought, then confirmed my information, clipboard in hand. The nurse kindly said I didn’t look my age, while the doctor gave me the ole’, “Now’s the time to come into your own.” Though an unlikely setting for this clichéd advice, I embraced it and mapped out goals for the potential Spanx-sporting me.
As for my catalog, it’s bedside bound, on-call should I need to give it a gander. I haven’t been moved to make a purchase, but there it’s perched — part stylist, part lifeline, urging me to stay active. Did I mention I scheduled an extra session with my trainer this week? I scan it nightly as the choices abound — bras, leggings, apparel and activewear that all promise “On-the-Go-Flattery” and come in different “Power Levels” — medium or hardcore, a control freak’s nirvana. You can even “Shop by Body Part,” no joke.
But, wait, it doesn’t stop there. Spanx swimwear (a.k.a. the “Miracle Suit”) exists and creates a more palatable beach body. Maybe not Baywatch results, but passable for spring break with the fam. Men, too, can sport Spanx as there are “Shapewear” and “Compression Shirt” offerings for the flabby set. There’s even a go-to “Starter Kit” for the ever-economical guy. The selection is endless. Kudos must go out to Spanx founder, Sara Blakely, who Forbes named the youngest self-made billionaire, for dreaming up the Best. Idea. Ever.
My brush with Spanx has served a dual purpose: a helpful reminder not to “pack-in-it” and reason to celebrate the modern-day me. Who says I can’t wear skinny jeans, Converse sneakers, and the occasional bedazzled tee? It’s who I am, despite my birthday. If need be, I’ve got a back-up wardrobe in my trusty catalog. I’ve even been eyeing a Spanx-infused LBD (little black dress) named the “Bod-A-Bing,” I’d don, if need be. My perspective, and mid-section, were on the brink of change.
With newfound vigor, I made Type A to-do lists. Work out more. Check. Launch my own business. Check. Have more “me time.” On the horizon. Buy Spanx. Done. Change was a good thing I thought, contemplating a “Carpe Diem” bumper sticker. In fact, reinvention rocks (thank-you Madonna).
Let this be a shout-out to fortysomethings everywhere, it’s really okay to have a Spanx calling. Let it spur you to start anew, as it’s done me. Join the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Spanx,” why don’t you? Repeat after me, “Spanx is my friend.” We all need a little help from our friends, right?
Aline Weiller is a freelance writer/journalist whose work has been featured in print/online publications and blogs. She is also the founder of the public relations firm, Wordsmith, LLC, based in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and two sons.
Illustration by Christine Juneau