My therapist used to have a rule for me: no inviting a man to be my date to a wedding unless I had been dating him for six months. This rule, an effort to educate me on the pacing of a healthy relationship, meant that I went to a lot of weddings solo. I ate lots of banquet chicken at the “singles” table.
Back then, it was a lot of work to be a wedding guest: picking out the perfect dress, asking about the eligible male guests, and engaging in a thorough beauty routine (which no doubt included eating very light and running very hard for several days prior). I wanted the single men to covet me, and everyone else to see me and start plotting to set me up with their beloved bachelor friends.
Now, that I am a married woman, however, pre-wedding rituals have been whittled down to one: tracking down my Spanx in my underwear drawer.
But even after finding them beneath the sports and nursing bras, I face a dilemma: “Am I going to wear it or am I going to be a body-loving, shape-affirming feminist?”
The problem is that I like what Spanx does to my figure—it makes it firm and smooshes down that C-section poof. It seems like it makes my dress hang better, which makes me somehow feel better in my skin. But, I recognize it’s self-abuse to wear clothes designed to “snap” my figure into a shape it no longer naturally is. So, it also feels like a failure to peel it off my body at the end of a night.
I have lost precious time to the Spanx debate that ensues in my head before I slip on a cocktail dress.
I know if I asked my therapist, he would support me in having a no-Spanx rule. But I haven’t brought it up because I want to the leave the door open—the door that will allow me the “freedom” to stuff my giggly parts into a tiny piece of stretchy material that will make it uncomfortable to breathe after I eat that initial bite of salad.
Having a rule would make it so much easier to get dressed before a special, cocktail-y event. There would be no debate. I would just wear my mama panties with pride. Plus, those damn Spanx would quit taking up so much room in my underwear drawer.
But there is something even better than enlisting my therapist to ban Spanx like some Mississippi public school district banning To Kill A Mockingbird.
There is simply forgetting all about Spanx.
There is leaving the debate, along with the wadded up Spanx, back home in the deep recesses of my wonderfully cluttered underwear drawer.
There is dressing in my fanciest mommy panties and going to a wedding to feast on hor d’oeuvres and perfectly butter-creamed cake.
There is dancing with beloved friends to songs I haven’t heard since the Sigma Chi Fall Formal in 1991.
There is so much to remember when I forget my Spanx.
And the mirage that rules offer is a fettered freedom I grasp for when I haven’t truly let go yet.
But, the true freedom that comes from forgetting altogether shows me I already have.