Control underwear has gone mainstream, with everyone from the Kardashians to Victorias Secret jumping on the big-pants bandwagon
A couple of weekends ago, I was waiting on a sofa in a communal changing room, while my teenage daughter was trying on clothes, when the young woman who had been behind us in the queue for cubicles I had noticed the yoga mat and hardback copy of Margaret Atwoods The Testaments sticking out of her fabric tote bag championing a charity for girls education emerged barefoot in a short black dress. She stood sideways in front of the big mirror, wrinkled her nose at her reflection, sucked her tummy in hard and then, happier, smiled at me. Just needs Spanx, right? she said.
Correct answer to that, anyone? Because I was stumped. My first instinct was: of course you dont need Spanx. You are a twentysomething peach, you are perfect exactly as you are and thats enough of that nonsense. But then I thought: maybe its kind of great that you can talk openly about wearing whichever big, sturdy knickers work for you and not feel as if you have to pretend to be wearing lace lingerie all the time. Then I thought: hang on a minute. Why am I plotting this young woman on an imaginary feminism graph with books read on the X-axis and knickers worn on the Y-axis?
You know that feminism graph oh, yes you do. It may be made up, but it is, at the same time, very much a real thing. We map womens progressive credentials against the height of their heels (too high being unsisterly) or the length of their eyelashes (fake, ditto). The coordinates dont always involve fashion but they frequently do. And underwear, being the point where womens bodies meet the outside world, is very often a flashpoint.
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