I don’t wear Spanx. I probably should. I have plenty of lumps that could use smoothing out. I don’t know where all that fat goes when you compress it like that, but I have a hard enough time managing two sports bras when I go running. I have no desire to pour myself into and out of that much lycra.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind if you wear Spanx. I admire Sara Blakely, creator of Spanx, as an incredible entrepreneur. She’s a billionaire now! I love the words of her father who asked her every day what mistakes she made – because if you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t learning. We often have similar conversations around our dinner table.

But sometimes I feel sad that so many women feel that they need Spanx. I once said this on an Etsy team and was run out of dodge. The context of the conversation was regarding the ubiquitous bubble necklace. There was a lot of controversy that cheap, imported bubble necklaces, which were knockoffs of a J. Crew necklace, were being sold on Etsy, a handmade venue. I made a comment something to the effect that it was a shame there was so much demand for the necklaces.  Why do women jump on trends like this? (Much to my chagrin, Annie bought one and it actually looked cute!) But I had no desire for one.
The conversation veered into what we are willing to pay for. When I said I wasn’t willing to pay for bubble necklaces, Spanx, and hair coloring I had offended just about everyone on the team. Someone told me I was jealous of the success of Spanx – that if my bandanas were to take off I would be thrilled.  I suppose there is some truth in that. I am not critical of people who color their hair. I simply choose not to.

My overarching style is “practical.” I keep a tight budget on some things so I can pay for other things. I am a consumer. I choose not to color my hair for several reasons. First and foremost, I don’t want to pour chemicals on my head – deemed safe or not. Second, I don’t want to spend the money. Third, at what point do you stop? I am just choosing to “let it be.” Would I look younger if I highlighted my hair? Probably. But my sagging neck is pretty hard to hide. Am I going to have a lift? No.

In terms of fashion, I’d love to wear the classic styles of Jackie O.  I’d love to sew clothes and dress like Erica B. She is an amazing seamstress and blogger and wears the clothes she makes daily. I have always wanted to have style like that. But the reality is I spend most of my time behind a sewing machine and managing a household. I choose comfort first, which can sometimes be rather plain. (I know, I know, it doesn’t have to be.) I also believe that with good design, clothing can be flattering.

There was a controversy recently about this ad. I can see how it might offend some people. She was intending to inspire. And it hits home. I have used that excuse. I simply don’t get it. I drink wine all the time and my waist still hasn’t whittled away……   🙂

Would I like to be skinnier? Yes. Do I work hard enough at it? No. Does it bring me down? No. I try to exercise and eat for overall health. I want to feel energetic and happy and both of those play a big part in how I feel. I like to be able to enjoy walks, runs and bike rides with my kids.

When I look in the mirror I see a matronly body that wasn’t this way five or ten years ago. The body changes. Katrina Kenison’s “This is 55” is a beautiful piece that describes so much of my life right now.

I guess it all gets down to beauty – how our culture defines it and how we, ourselves, define it. It’s about how we feel about ourselves. There are plenty of feminists out there who rant about and, yet, wear Spanx. We can blame the culture, the media, etc. I know girls and women that struggle with eating disorders. How do we raise our girls?

Speaking of lycra, there is a trend of the younger girls wearing leggings/tights. Annie and I visited a college campus and girls everywhere were wearing them. These are not yoga pants. They are leggings. My skewed view of fashion thinks that butts should be covered by something other than lycra. So, that means a longer shirt. I really don’t care to see butts. Is that slut-shaming?

Speaking of butts, I sat behind this at a football game.

I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to say something to the young woman. Does she really think this looks nice? Does she really think I want to see her pimply back and thong? What IS she thinking? Because if that was my daughter, I’d be sad for her. Is this fashion? Is this exhibitionism? What? Am I allowed to have an opinion on this?

Well, I do have an opinion. I would not permit my daughter to dress like this. Nor would my husband. That doesn’t mean they won’t roll down their sweats. That doesn’t mean my girls haven’t bought clothes I don’t agree with. But how do we, as parents, as a society, as a culture, define and guide beauty and fashion? How do we raise our girls to be strong and let their inner beauty be what defines them when all they want to be is a pretty princess?

I have a pair of jeans that I am going to experiment with. I read yesterday that some designers rarely wash their jeans. That seems gross to me. But it does seem that jeans shrink. And with the ever-lowering waistlines, it is very hard to find comfortable jeans. I was thinking of taking my waistband off and creating a wider band so that I don’t have a muffin top. I might even use some lycra! I am a walking contradiction!

Ultimately, we are consumers. We are the ones buying Spanx. We are the ones buying magazines that say “Lose 10 Pounds in a Week” and “Bake These Extra-Fudgy Brownies”. We are the ones watching “news” shows that give us 24/7 covering of Kate Middleton and Hollywood celebrities. We have choices.

I simply don’t choose Spanx. Now pass me a glass of Malbec.