Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Girdles are back; I was just getting comfortable

They’re baaaack.

No, not poltergeists. I’m talking about a binding tighter than a boa constrictor’s squeeze.

I’m talking about girdles.

This discovery was made one bright Sunday morning. My cereal bowl was jockeying for position with the newspaper sprawled across the counter when, right there, in not one but two circulars, were ads for girdles.

I kid you not.

Many will remember these popular vice-like garments of the 1950s and ’60s that squished everyday female fat into a curvy, voluptuous bombshell figure making tummy and hips as smooth as a television screen. It mattered not the poor dears couldn’t breathe; what mattered was image.

In the 1953 movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell boosted best-girlfriend ideology to the nines but their wardrobes were an eye-popping 10 that accentuated each woman’s oh là là attributes. These women were no skinny minis, but their figures were enviably curvy thanks, in part, to girdles.

Somewhere along the line, women opted to breathe and eat while wearing clothes giving girdles the heave-ho, but today’s tide of stick-skinny femme fatales strutting across stage, screen and fashion magazine remains an image most women can’t achieve.

A few years back, “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” hit the airwaves and featured average women with real bumps and blemishes in commercials. I was surprised, not because of the truth behind the message but because it was the first time I didn’t have a compelling urge to change all of me.

Still, body perceptions die slowly and the “love your body” message continues to fight tooth and nail with the raging too-fat inferno bubbling beneath. But just when I thought I had a handle on the positive, a sliver of negative appears in, of all things, the Sunday newspaper.

Now, marketing people are cool operators. They know girdles are as enticing to women as a fat-free, sugar free, frosting-free cupcake, so yesterday’s gear is now marketed in today’s lacey come-hither spandex under appealing feminine friendly names like slim control pantyhose and tights, mid-thigh shapers and tummy-toning camisoles and briefs.

Don’t let these clever ploys fool you. They’re girdles all right and modeled by skinny people who couldn’t comprehend a vice-like binding if it cinched them.

Which begs the question, how did men get off the girdle hook? I mean has anyone ever seen an ad for a he-girdle? Anyone? Of course not. Men wouldn’t wear these contraptions unless it had a TV controller hanging from it and then they’d rip the controller off and use the spandex undies as a slingshot.

Women should be more like men in this respect. We should let the bombshell image go … but we do like the attention, don’t we? Saying we don’t is like saying ice cream doesn’t melt. The admiring glances and wow factor produced by curvaceous curves is gratifying.

But at the end of the day, when the tummy-tucking, hip slimming, and breast enhancing attire pools to the floor in a heap and we face ourselves, once again, in that blasted mirror, the hard, cold reality of who we are is looking back.

It shouldn’t be so hard and cold. It should be comforting and OK.

There’s nothing wrong with feminine prerogative, after all it’s one of the nicer perks of being female and comes in handy for a night on the town or when mood swings hit, but when you come home and step out of the fluff, the real-you reflection should be reassuring and calming like a warm summer breeze, a pair of comfy jammies, a hot toddy, an abiding love that says you’re great the way you are … well, that and anything chocolate.

That’s where women should be.

Contact Spokane Valley resident correspondent Sandra Babcock by e-mail at

Tags: girdles