My Tummy Doesn’t Need Technology

Doug 15
Photo by Doug Spearman

I was in ye old fat girl store trying on a dress.  I was in the open part of the dressing room checking out the pleasing way that the dress hit my ass when a store clerk came in and this happened:

Store Clerk: Don’t worry, some spanx will smooth that right out.
Me: The FUCK?!
SC:  Wide eyes, slow blink.
Me:  Please tell me that I am not in a store that specifically caters to my size, being told that my body would be better if it were squished into some other shape.  Please tell me that you haven’t been told by your superiors to give that message to fat women.  Please tell me THAT IS NOT HAPPENING!
SC:  Sorry, I thought that you weren’t happy the way the dress looked.
Me:  Boy did you read that one wrong.

If you are someone who wears shapewear then please hear me when I say that I totally and completely support you in doing that- this is just about my feelings about my body and the shopping experience that I want – I have no interest in telling anybody else how to live.  I will fight to the death for your right to wear whatever you want, I would ask if you are willing to get on board with stores that cater to fat people creating a shopping experience that is a little less easy to construe as body shaming.

In that vein, allow me to say this:

Dear stores that sell clothes to fat people,

My top is not out of control, my tush doesn’t need to be trimmed or toned, nor, while I appreciate alliteration, do I require Tighter Tummy Technology.  I don’t need lift or definition in a sports bra – I need to finish my run without two black eyes. I do not need the people who work at your stores to suggest shapewear to help me “look my best” wearing the dress that I’m no longer buying because the person working at your store suggested that I don’t look my best in it right this minute.  I am unwilling to trade my ability to take full breaths for super-duper slimming zoned compression of any kind. I would, in fact, be happy to die without ever again hearing or reading the phrases super-duper slimming, or zoned compression unless it is a new basketball defense.  I came here to shop for clothes at one of the very few stores that caters to people my size.  I did not come here to be bombarded with advertisements that suggest I should try to use the “miracle” of Spandex to smush my body into some other form – if I wanted to feel like crap about my body I would go to every other store that exists, turn on the television, read the comment thread in almost any article on the internet, or read my hatemail.

I am aware that other women want these products and I celebrate their right to purchase them, but it seems to me that if they want that, they’ll be looking for them so you could tone it the hell down because right now your campaign to tone, tuck, tighten, and trim me really puts the “b” in subtle if you know what I mean.

I’ve already talked about my feelings regarding the concept of “flattering. I wear clothes for a lot of different reasons – to cover my body, to decorate my body, to keep my boobs smashed down while I workout, and for many, many other reasons. I do not wear clothes to make my body look like a different body, I do not believe that I need to mold my fat into some different size and shape.  I am not asking you to stop selling these items, I am asking for the ability to find clothes that don’t try to “control” any part of my body, and I am asking for a shopping experience that seems a little less like the constant body shaming I get from people and businesses that aren’t trying to get my money.

Thank you.

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38 thoughts on “My Tummy Doesn’t Need Technology

  1. It’s a shame they don’t make Spanx for the mouth. It would sure help the idiots to hold back their ignorant statements.

  2. “I don’t need lift or definition in a sports bra – I need to finish my run without two black eyes.”

    Preach on! I don’t care if they look “perky” in my sports bra, I want it to strap those puppies down so they don’t hurt someone! LOL

  3. The thing about Spanx is you only look slightly thinner, but you get to be miserable the whole day you wear them. They should be forced to advertise them that way.

  4. Amen! I’ve always hated any kind of shape wear, girdles, “look thinner” pants (with the panel that’s supposed to squish your belly in), and on and on. I like to put on my clothes and forget about them unless I’m admiring them in some way. Any dress that doesn’t make me happy exactly the way I am does not get bought, and any store that doesn’t treat me with respect (both in its selection and in its sales staff) doesn’t get my business.

  5. What I find hilarious with the Catalina swimwear line is their catch-phrase of “Suddenly Slim.” Bitch, please! I weigh 275 pounds. No amount of Spandex is going to make me look “suddenly slim.”
    The funny thing is, I actually look slimmer (not that I give any actual fucks about this) when I wear a swimsuit that fits comfortably rather than one that I had to shoehorn myself into.
    Don’t hate me for buying the damn Catalina swimwear. My budget is super tight and they’re the only ones that are affordable, at least that I know of.

  6. vh, love your comment and it’s conjuring up great images! Though there must be people, workers in clothers places, who buy into the body shaping, hiding/flattering etc., and just get on with it? In my experience and sadly I think many others, they won’t just do that and leave it at that, they have to “force it” on others, while justifying that they’re “trying to help”, pathetic excuse in my view. I went to an Irish female author event at a Swedish women’s clothes shop in London recently and the author was wearing some of their clothes. I noted that mant guests said how great she looked and she implied it was the clothes. Now I wasn’t sure what her body looked like before, but I’d guess she was average-small sized and she looked on that day, smaller than average. I then made the error of going on her twitter feed the next day and saw someone had “complemented” how “slim” she looked and she replied “its the Gudrun Sjoden clothes” and added #skinny! So there is no getting away from it and though this clothes company doesn’t solely do larger size clothing, it does a fair amount of it and even shows older and larger models in some shoots.

    Marion, UK

  7. I’m down with shapewear being available to those who want it (I wear corsets), but the current marketing strategy is messed up beyond belief. I reject the idea that I, as a fat person, am or “should” be buying their product to *try to not look like a fat person.* On top of being insulting- fashion is supposed to be about displaying who you are inside on the outside, so why am *I* supposed to be aiming to look as little like me and as much like someone else as possible?- it’s ineffectual; for some reason I’m just really skeptical about the idea that squishing my rolls into a stereotypical “thin body” shape would actually fool anyone into thinking I’m thin.

    1. Hear, hear, Lady Rhaphthorne! Wear it if you want it, but don’t tell us we need it! That’s awful marketing.

      I actually do enjoy the feeling of a WELL-FITTED corset. I have to emphasize that the corset has to really fit well. Not too small, not squishing me round the middle or any of that. As a large-breasted woman, I like having my breasts get their support from the bottom, rather than from a couple of straps digging into my shoulders and causing me headaches. If a corset is laced up snugly, but not tightly, it feels great.

      Give me some well-fitted undergarments, that actually conform to my size and shape, as well as support what needs supporting, and I’m in clothing heaven. Underwire bras are no good, because they dig into me in all the wrong (and sensitive) places. Boning up and down, then curving out at the flare of my hips, on the other hand, never pokes me, but gives me comfortable support. It’s great!

      And if I want it, I have to make it myself, unfortunately.

      You know, some singers swear by their corsets, because if they are properly fitted, they can allow the singer to take deep breaths, and then give extra support to the diaphragm, allowing for firmer notes and longer phrases. But no singer worth their salt will wear tight-lacing in any form.

      It’s sort of like compression stockings – snug enough to give support to the veins and arteries in the legs, but not so tight to cut off the circulation. *Support garments* can be very useful, indeed, but not if they are tight enough to actually change the body’s shape. “Shape wear” is just too darned tight, and physically damaging.

      Also, if you like the look of a corset, you can enjoy the fashion, without the horrors of body-shaping by getting a large size, and removing the boning. Corsets can be quite lovely, after all, and some people even incorporate them into their outerwear, because of the look. I once saw a really nifty one (probably home-made) with a stiff leather front, and cloth around the sides and back, and no boning, at all. It looked really comfortable, as well as giving good support for the diaphragm (a singer was wearing it), and the leatherwork was beautiful, too.

      1. “I once saw a really nifty one (probably home-made) with a stiff leather front, and cloth around the sides and back, and no boning, at all.”

        Ooh, I like the sound of that.

      2. I’m half-way to just deciding that corsets are what I have to wear.

        I’ve got big, saggy breasts and nice chubby tummy. I hate underwire because it is digging in to both my belly and my breasts. And the bands are never wide enough- to have a “properly supported” bra (read: scaffolding to launch my nipples up 3 inches) they always end up leaving lines in my back and shoulders and under my breasts.

        Right now, I wear bras like genie and aah bras because they don’t hurt. They also don’t lift, separate or “support” but I’m going with “clothes that don’t hurt me” over “clothes that hurt me but ‘look nice'”. I had a costumer once get super annoyed at me because, as she put it “your bra isn’t doing ANYTHING for you!”.

        I’m in karate, and I NEED a sports bra that can keep me from bouncing. Right now, I’m doing a sports bra- fitted camisole combo just to keep them at some level of not hitting me in the face. It doesn’t work. But I don’t trust buying things online and ESPECIALLY not for bras.

        1. I haven’t done any sporty-type stuff since my accident, so it’s not a problem for me any more. However, there have been times when I seriously considered just getting really long bandages, and strapping those suckers down, like smaller women can do when they are trying to dress as men.

          If the sports bra industry doesn’t want to take your money in exchange for something that fits you, don’t give them your money, but find something that works.

          I wonder if a combo of fitted corset and bandaging could be effective sport-support wear. I know my belly bounces uncomfortably, as well as my breasts, when I jump or run, so if I were to take it up again, I’d probably want both.

          I read once that a bra should give all its support from the bottom, and the straps are unnecessary, and purely there for psychological reasons. If that’s so, why is that every bra I ever got with a strap thinner than 1 1/2 inches cut into my shoulders and left lines of red and pain? Apparently, the bra manufacturers never read that article.

        2. I love my corsets, they are also nice back support on top of looking pretty, however if you need to bend at the waist at all it’s impossible. For that same reason putting shoes on is quite difficult so you have to plan on putting on your shoes before the corset.

          Can’t help with the sports bra dilemma, I have almost nothing to support.

      3. I too have been looking into purchasing a corset. I am quite lumpy so things don’t sit at the right position. Unfortunately, I think if I didn’t look the stereotypical fat person, I’d have better luck with getting another job, except the corsets I’ve been looking at would cost me around $700, but it would be made for me.

        1. If you take good care of it, it could last you a long time, and be a good investment.

          Also, if it fits great and works for you, and you don’t change sizes, then when it does wear out, you could use it for a pattern to make your own replacement. That is, if you can sew.

          $700 is really expensive, though. If you can afford it, more power to you. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who isn’t a super-star paying that much for one item of clothing.

          Do you know someone who could sew it for you, for much less, and perhaps you could pay for that person’s time and effort by swapping something you can do for them? Like “I’ll clean your house, if you sew this corset” sort of swap?

          1. I am hoping it will last a long time. I’ve looked into some other corsets and they don’t seem to made of the same quality. Some are even just polyester that you throw in the washing machine. Doesn’t make sense to me.

            The shop is absolutecorsets dot com. I emailed them and asked if they still functioned and didn’t contribute frostbite with the metal boning, and they said it would still work fine and not hurt me.

            1. There’s definitely a wide range of quality in corsets. There’s basically three levels of corsets: cheap mass produced off the rack corsets, small manufacture off the rack corsets, and custom made corsets. The mass produced ones are basically for costume wear and aren’t great (though some are decent if they have steel boning). The small manufacturer off the racks from good corseters are good if you have a budget but still want quality. Custom made is usually the best because they fit perfectly but you pay for the extra fitting. My corsets range from $80 off the rack to $200 custom made.

      1. There’s quite a bit of good buzz about Hips and Curves (dot com); it carries up to a 6X, has mostly good customer ratings, and a reasonable price range.

  8. One of the things that I find disappointing about Dressbarn is that I can’t seem to find work slacks there in my size that don’t have built-in shapewear panels of some kind. If I want to wear shapewear, I will wear shapewear. It’s a once in a blue moon occasion for me, like for job interviews. I don’t need my daily wear clothes to have it built in. I need them to actually fit. If they only work with the squeezy panels built in, then by definition, they don’t fit me. Otherwise, I love Dressbarn. Half the store caters to my size, most of the styles from the smaller size section are duplicated in my section, and they have a lot of great tops, skirts & dresses that work for me. WITHOUT SHAPEWEAR. But, yeah. I had to find another retailer for slacks.

      1. Panels, underwires, they all come out when I get home.

        The problem with cutting out the panels, though, is that the pants that hang well on you with the panels, might look like a tight squeeze without the panels, so you might need to go up a size, and you won’t know for sure, until you’ve removed the panels. It’s a Catch-22, isn’t it?

        Better to just find them without the panels.

        When I find a pair of slacks I like, I buy as many as I can get, at once, because really, it is SO HARD to find the right slacks.

        1. Same here, every time I find something, I have to buy all of them because they ain’t comin’ back! Most things are “this season” but they fit better than anything, and won’t be there again any other time.

  9. Ugh – yes! If a piece of clothing requires buying undergarments other than the ones I have and love, I’m not buying it. I don’t care if those pants would be amazing with a thong, or that dress would look awesome with a spanx bodysuit under it. Not doing it. I’ve worn those before and I don’t feel thinner, smoother, or more confident. I feel bulky and self-conscious and going to the bathroom is a terrifying, sweaty experience.

    Also, I’m super irritated that so many clothing companies are using such thin, cheap materials. They show everything and often require another shirt underneath. I know they do this to sell more undershirts and spanx-type products, but I hate it! I just want to wear one shirt at a time.

  10. The problem with shapewear, aside from preventing people from breathing properly, and potentially causing fainting spells, is that it only squidges the fat to new places.

    Sure, your tummy may be tucked, and your backside may be “beautiful,” but suddenly your thighs are twice as big as they were before. Or maybe your bust is all perfectly shaped, but now you have these annoying bulges right under your armpits, and find yourself standing, arms akimbo, and saying, “I can’t put my arms down.”

    If you enjoy the feeling and look of shapewear, more power to you. Some of us, however, do not want to be told that we are too lumpy to love, but that moving the lumps from one locale to another will somehow make us more attractive, even if we do turn blue and pass out on the floor.

    By all means, stock the Spanx and other assorted shapewear. Display it prominently. If people ask, give them all the help they need and want to choose the right shapewear for them. But never, Never, NEVER assume that we want it, or worse, tell us that we need it.

    Good for you, Ragen, and I hope they re-train their customer service employees to avoid that, in future.

  11. Yeah!

    I mean, I wear shape-wear sometimes. Mostly because of a combination of me being super-jiggly and finding it more comfortable to be active when my diaphragm isn’t being pulled every which way by the motion of my extremities. But also partly because I really like the way my breasts look when smooshed up and together and shape-wear does that for my JJ cups better than any bra I can afford.

    But seriously. I go looking for it. I am perfectly capable of finding and asking for stuff that smooshes me. And sometimes I *don’t* want to be smooshed. Like, I want the support stuff to smoosh me, but not the actual clothes themselves.

    Mostly though, regardless of whether or not I want to be smooshed, I most definitely DON’T want someone coming up to me and suggesting my body is a problem that must be solved. Especially not in the context of me buying clothes, which be made to fit me and not the other way around. And especially not said as a means to…. encourage me to buy something I apparently look less-than-awesome in and then also spend more money to maybe look more okay? What?

  12. I like properly fitted shapewear because these days it’s hard to find clothes that don’t show the exact edges of your underwear without a smoother in between. But I still don’t like most shapewear. Or shirts that don’t work without the correct bra underneath, and of course there is no tag explaining what the correct bra would be.

    Speaking of bras, I have chronic migraines that start with muscle spasms in my upper back, plus something spectrum-y (never officially diagnosed) that makes wearing certain garments problematic–even more so when I don’t feel well. The only soft lower garment that’s clean just now is a skirt, and I woke up with a migraine. Swift treatment got me through the hit-me-with-a-hammer-because-at-least-I’ll-be-unconscious stage and into the my-head-is-OK-but-everything-else-is-tender stage in time to run some errands. But decent people with big breasts don’t go outside without bras! And fat ladies like me have to wear hose!

    I used to put up with the pain of a bra, not to mention the chance of retriggering the muscle spasms, on days like this. Today, for the first time ever, I went out in my fuzziest, softest sweatshirt and least pinchy skirt, with soft wool socks and multiple soft petticoats. And no red-mark-making hose. “Anybody wants to stare at my chest or legs,” I thought, “they can keep their comments to themselves.”

    And it’s thanks largely to this blog that I had the gumption. So thanks!

  13. I love my spanx. They’re much cheaper than whatever back support I really need, because when I wear them my back hurts less.

    Don’t give two flying ratfucks what it does for the size of my belly and ass, but …. my back. I hate when it hurts. LOL

    1. I love “support clothing.” I hate “shape wear.”

      If it works for your back, then that is fantastic! It’s hard to find affordable back support.

      Unfortunately, I throw my back out trying to put the darned things on, so the last pair I bought, shortly before my accident, have remained unused in my drawer since then, along with anything resembling pantyhose or tights. But I feel good to know that someone gets some positive support from those things. Maybe I’ll give my spanx to a friend or relative with back pain.

      Is it lower, middle, or upper back pain that it helps?

      Would it help, do you think, with core muscle spasms? My sister has been having those, lately, and if it will help her, then I can give them to her, and save her the awful medication with the “I keep forgetting to breathe” side effect.

      Hehehehe. I just pictured a re-vamped picture of things you can do in spanx. Instead of “put out a fire” or “run a marathon,” you could “remember to breathe” and “walk upright.”

      Whatever works.

  14. Is that the dress you are wearing in the picture? If so, I love it! Looks fabulous! My ass wouldn’t look that good in a dress, any dress, even if I DID wear Spanx. Or one of those derrière enhancing panties you can buy with silicone inserts in them to make your booty look more firm, and shapelier.

    1. Ass-beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, I’m sure that somewhere in the world is somebody who would find beauty in your un-altered ass. Someday, I hope, that somebody will include you.

      1. It’s not that I don’t love it or that it’s not beautiful in it’s own way. 😉 It’s more that there is simply just not all that much of it to love or hate, and it’s strong points do not include the ability to fill out clothing as well as some people’s butts and other body parts can. Unlike my big broad shoulders, which I am particularly fond of. As you can see in the avatar of me, taken about a year ago, my shoulders are far and away the broadest part of my body. They do a spectacular job of filling out clothing. So well that I used to rip out the ginormous shoulder pads so popular in the 1980s that they were in every single piece of female top clothing on offer for sale in a size past a child’s 6x. Otherwise I tended to look like an NFL Linebacker in miniature. Was most pleased when that era of clothing fashion finally ended, and that it has not made a comeback.

        1. Oh, my gosh, those shoulder pads! Yes, I remember them. My shoulders did not fill out the clothes, so you have reason to be proud of yours.

          As to your bottom, if you can afford (or have the skill for, or can swap with a friend who has skill for) tailored clothes, then your pants and skirts will fit properly, and you don’t have to worry about “not filling them out,” because they will be pulled in to fit you, and never be loose or baggy. Well-fitted clothes always look better, regardless of the actual shape.

          1. That’s actually a goal of mine, to learn to do my own, and maybe other peoples alterations. Lots going on in my personal and work life right now though, and none of it good, so the goal is on a back burner for now.

  15. I was in Ye Olde FLS (Fat Lady Store) a couple of years ago. My then-13-year-old son was waiting quietly for me, sitting off to the side. He walked up to the cash register to verify that I was *finally* paying. I saw his eyes darting around the items for sale near the cash register, and as we were walking out the door, he said: “Okay. What the hell kind if a sexist-assed thing is a ‘Spanx’?”

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