When I saw this post on Jezebel about Athletic Spanx that cost more than $100, my first thought was, WTF? Except it was not just WTF, but a WTF in big, blinking neon lights the approximate size and shape of the Luxor.
You mean to tell me that I could buy long foundation garments to wear to the gym? And I can spend approximately two months worth of my water bill to do so? And then I can get them all sweaty and grody, too? SWEET.
I was about five minutes into a mental rant about the ridiculous expectations put on women to look good at all times, and how we are always expected to pay stupid amounts of money just to look “presentable,” and how if we don’t look “presentable” people think we are depressed or sad, like we are cats who stop grooming ourselves because we got sick….
…and then I remembered my running bra. My beautiful running bra, which keeps my girls in place no matter how long or how hard I run, and which keeps the headlights from turning on full-blast when I’m inside an air conditioned gym.
I tried a bunch of the less-expensive ones for a while, but they only worked when I strapped on two of them, which always had the effect of making me feel like a horse with a bondage fetish. So finally one day I said the hell with it, and I shelled out for an expensive Nike running bra from a specialty running story.
That thing cost me $60. Sixty dollars! But oh my god, was it worth it.
I returned to the $118 pair of Spanx today while I was at the gym. I was on the incline bench doing dumbbell presses when I had a little flash of gratitude for wearing one of my longer, looser running singlets to the gym. I always get so distracted with irritation when I lift while wearing a slightly snug shirt that crawls up and shows what might be my least favorite part of my body. It yanks me right out of my workout, no matter how well it’s been going or how badass I feel.
It was at this point that I decided to stop being so judge-y about the $118 pair of Spanx and the women who choose to wear them. (Even if Spanx does call them the Bagel-Busters. Seriously, Spanx marketers? Seriously?)
But it doesn’t mean I’m completely okay with it. (And not just because they are so damn expensive, either.)
Putting aside the questions about impossible beauty standards and the severe anxiety they inspire, can we talk about the practicality of these things?
I’ve never worn Spanx before, but I have worn generic Target-brand shapewear, and having a piece of industrial-strength spandex-nylon wrapped around your waist and stomach really is not conducive to the kind of deep-breathing necessary to keep you going through a serious workout. Plus, the fabric isn’t exactly breathable. All I can think of is sweat pooling in the crotch of the pants, then dribbling down my leg as I try to run.
Plus, is it even healthy? According to this NPR article, some doctors say wearing Spanx while playing sports can cause problems:
The startling report comes from Dr. Orly Avitzur, medical adviser to Consumer Reports on Health. She saw a 15-year-old girl last week who had been suffering numbness, pain and tingling in her thigh for several months. A worried orthopedist had sent the girl to Avitzur, a neurologist in Tarrytown, N.Y.
Avitzur knew that tight garments can cause pain and numbness in the thigh if they squeeze the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which runs down the abdomen just below the hipbone. The condition’s called meralgia paresthetica.
And she knew that Spanx are today’s wildly popular answer to the girdle of yesteryear. (Read all about the “It” undergarments in the latest New Yorker.) But she looked at the slender soccer player in front of her and thought, “I’m not going to even ask about Spanx. It seemed ludicrous to think of a young girl wearing Spanx.”
Ludicrous, but right. It turned out that not only was this girl wearing Spanx under her soccer uniform, so was the entire team.
That’s right. An entire high-school soccer team was wearing Spanx under their uniforms.
Compression garments are one thing, but I don’t think Spanx was intending their gear to be used as therapeutic wear as much as it was meant to be “make my butt look good” wear.
So while I can totally understand why a woman might feel like wearing Spanx athletic wear can only help her by making her feel more comfortable and confident in the gym, I would be wary of doing so when trying to do a serious workout.
What do you think? Would you ever wear Spanx while working out? Even if they were athletic versions of Spanx? Or is the price tag way too steep?