NORMAN — Could you be talked into purchasing a foundation undergarment so restrictive, so unyielding and so draconian it makes a wetsuit look like a nightgown?
This is why I ask: There’s been a pop-up ad appearing in the lower right-hand screen of my computer, which at first seemed only persistent; it turns out, however, to have been irresistible.
It offered me a product that would, through cunning and science, give me a better figure.
This week, I relented. Casting my integrity to the winds, I clicked on the link.
What I saw made me gasp, then wince, then toss my head and offer the hollow laughter of film sirens who’ve discovered their boyfriends were no-good, gun-slinging liars.
The website was selling girdles. They didn’t call them that, but that’s what they were.
A girdle is a girdle is a girdle.
I grew up watching early women’s-rights activists burn their bras and girdles. Now times have changed and women are putting their undergarments into the flames for a different reason: They’re doing it to forge the steel infrastructure more thoroughly by placing them in the refiner’s fire.
That’s why they’re called foundation garments — they’re made of metal and concrete. They’re supposed to support the whole structure.
These new products differ from the girdles worn by women of my mother’s generation only insofar as there are now girdles for the legs, girdles for the arms and girdles for an adult’s entire body. Turns out you don’t just have to flatten your stomach anymore. You have to flatten your whole self.
I started looking at various other links for women’s foundation garments — there are more than 28 million entries — so I narrowed my search to the first 75,000 — and it seems as if the most popular brand at the moment is called Spanx.