Ever hear that ancient Spanx supposedly cast a spell? Back in the day – we’re talking mythological and biblical times – girdles, actually cinching belts that accentuated the feminine shape, were known to offer protection, fertility and even magical powers. Hercules battled the Amazon queen Hippolyta for hers in his ninth labor, and Babylonian goddess Ishtar donned one that when removed turned the universe barren. The discovery piqued my interest considering that our culture, one that historically gave power to apparel emphasizing the female form, flipped in the 1980s to one giving power to apparel that made us look more masculine. (Think shoulder pads.)
Today we seem to strike a balance – cinched waists with strong shoulders – and, in fact, the girdle hasn’t disappeared entirely. It’s back in 21st century form with the rise of body shapers, an industry gaining momentum with more feminine and flattering styles than ever.
Intrigued by how shapewear can be sexy? Stay tuned for the lowdown in WAG’s February “Voluptuaries” issue. – Andrea Kennedy