Hubs and I recently decided to schedule a date night. We’ve both been crazy busy lately, and we were feeling overdue for some romance time. We chose a date, then he booked the reservation for two at our favorite child-free restaurant. The only thing left to decide was what to wear. Hubs grabbed his one pair of black slacks, a clean shirt, and black loafers, and he was ready to go. Easy-peasy.
Yeah, that wasn’t going to work for me.
Digging through the spare closet in my office, where I keep out-of-season or dressy pieces, I pulled out several choices, but nothing seemed right. One final, persistent search uncovered a fabulous little black dress that I forgot I still had. It looked promising, but it occurred to me that maybe I should try it on “just to check.”
Tossing my yoga pants, I gently stepped into the dress. Well, crap. Apparently, twelve months can make a huge difference in our body shape, because the body in that dress now didn’t look anything like the body that wore that dress last year. I managed to wiggle into it until it reached my hips, at which point it refused to budge another inch. I gave it a bigger wiggle. Nope. Not an millimeter further. I jumped up and down while pulling it up. Still stuck. It was obviously time for a clothing intervention.
Ransacking my lingerie drawer, I found for my “longline” Spanx, and spent the next 25 minutes struggling to get them on. Finally victorious, but now exhausted and sweaty, I was mortified to discover that while they shrink-wrapped my waist, hips and thighs into the next size down, they stopped short at my boobs, which had lost the war on gravity sometime in my late 40s.
Burrowing through the drawer, I found my push-up bra, with side panels and steel underwires, guaranteed to get the girls back up where Nature originally put them. Swaddled in Spanx and Kevlar, but managing to get the dress over my post-menopausal body bumps, I looked in the mirror. It might work if I could walk normally while wearing a full-body compression stocking. I waddled over to the chair, but couldn’t sit down without the dress sliding up my thighs and flashing my girdled body parts that had the appeal of trampy butt cracks from low-rider jeans. I finally peeled the whole mess off into a pile on the floor and kicked it into the closer. Back into my comfy, forgiving yoga pants, I headed out the door to find a dress that didn’t require encasing my body like a beer sausage at Oktoberfest to get into it.
That morning got me thinking about the vast array of products specifically designed to improve our self-esteem and increase our confidence by hiding, correcting, fixing, or even temporarily eliminating our flaws. For virtually every un-perfect body part, there are products that promise to transport recalcitrant, middle-age body parts back in time. With a little research (and wads of disposable income), we can find products that push up our bosoms, tighten our buttocks, reduce cellulite in our thighs, hide redness in our cheeks, de-bloat our bellies, de-puff our eyes, lengthen our lashes, plump our lips, smooth our wrinkles, and change our hair color from blah to bombshell in just 30 minutes. Awesome.
I confess, I’m a big fan of many of these products. Being a sucker for anything that promises youthful beauty without have to join a gym or give up Pop Tarts and Cheez-in-a-Can, I tend to whip out my Visa on the first promise. Some work beautifully. Some don’t work at all. But the ideas are bold and might be worth a try.
- Spanx. Designed to firm and smooth everything from boobs to ankles. Our mothers called them “girdles.” Be warned. They only work if you buy a size that takes you at least twenty minutes to get into and you’re not opposed to breaking a sweat before the big event. And pee before. If you’re dashing to the porta-potty at the Country Music Festival during the closing song, you’ll miss all three encores.
- The Wonder Bra. Shoves the sisters up to there, with water inserts to make them realistically bouncy. Works great until you take it off and he realizes your real ones resemble the ears on your sister’s twelve-year-old basset hound. It’s best to remove this one in the dark.
- The 5-Way Convertible Bra. One bra, five different styles, including halter, strapless, and cross-over. Invented by a man whose fantasy woman is obviously a double-jointed circus contortionist. Bought one and spent half an hour trying to figure out the damn straps, another half-hour trying to get it on, then finally threw it out the window into the neighbor’s arborvitae. He’s never asked.
- Butt pads. Very few things leave me speechless. Intentionally attaching something to your ass, specifically designed to make it look bigger… Nope, can’t speak.
- Bosom Max. Promises to “lift and enhance bust size” with an electromagnetic pulse massaging bra. Even without the visual of the pulse action that would look like two ferrets humping inside your bra, it’ll magically make your boobs bigger and higher, “without surgery”?? The person who buys this probably also bought the Ab Roller and the Shake Weights. I can’t drink enough wine to buy this one. I’ve tried.
- “Cleansing” Kits. Raved about by Hollywood celebrities, these teas and tablets promise to “cleanse toxins, reduce water retention, and flatten the tummy.” Our parents called these “laxatives.” Save on shipping. They’re available at any drugstore.
- Lip Augmentation. Possibly the stupidest trend ever. Channeling Daisy Duck is likely to result in friends and family questioning your decision-making processes on virtually every other issue in your life.
And so it seems that confidence is best achieved by putting as much distance as possible between how we appear and what we actually look like. Having said that, I’m not quite ready to go natural. Maybe Victoria’s Secret could come out with a “Bite-Me-I’m-60” bra that replaces wispy lace with industrial strength strapping? I’ll take one in Nude and one in Black, please.