What Spanx Taught Me About Parenting

In the lingerie department fitting room, I squeezed into the tight, stretchy bodysuits. Wow, were they effective. Everything was all sucked in and smoothed out. No more lumps—not even that one under the bra line. But I was so uncomfortable. I could probably deal with Spanx under a slim-fitting dress for one date night, but definitely not as a regular part of my wardrobe.

I was also uncomfortable with the message it would send to my daughters if I wore—let’s be honest—a girdle. They’d see me contort my body to pull this thing up and over my shoulders. At the end of the day, they’d watch me throw the thing on the ground with a deep sigh—probably my first full breath since I put the Spanx on that morning.


I can practically hear my two-year-old ask, “What’s that, Mama?” Sure, I could get away by saying, “It’s an undershirt” for a while, but eventually she’d figure out that I was wearing it because I was insecure about the natural shape of my body.

As someone who battled anorexia and bulimia in my late teens and early 20s, I am hyper-aware of the importance of teaching my daughters to have healthy relationships with their bodies. It starts with modeling healthy, moderate eating and exercise habits for them. I also can’t be putting myself down by saying stuff like, “I feel fat.” (Side note: “Fat” is not a feeling! How many times did I hear that in eating disorder treatment?) Nor can I wear uncomfortable shapewear in order to distort my body. Sorry, Spanx. You’re an impressive product, but not for me.

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