Spanx and the Spare Tire

by Michael on June 3, 2010 · 8 comments

I'm not so sure this guy actually needs it.

We all laughed when the makers of Spanx announced they would be shipping Spanx for Men. After all, the vanity of the girdle has always been the realm of the woman. We men have generally accepted for centuries now that a woman’s waist isn’t as narrow as it looks with clothes on, and that those bosoms likely aren’t quite as perky with no underwire to push them up.

On the other hand, men have been proud to say that what you see is what you get. Women accepted us despite (sometimes even because of) our love handles, flabby chests or spare tires. Over the past decade we’ve become quick to shave our heads at the first hint of male-pattern baldness, making toupees and combovers obsolete amongst an army of shining, barren scalps. Every time someone declares that makeup is “in” for guys, that someone generally disappears soon after, never to be heard from again.

You know who’s laughing now? The makers of Spanx. They’re laughing all the way to the bank:

“We are selling them as quickly as Spanx can make them,” said Nickelson Wooster, the men’s fashion director at Neiman Marcus, which was until recently the only department store carrying them. (This month Spanx for Men arrived in Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, and at Web sites like [and ToB affiliate partner, if you must].) “Men may not be talking about it, but they’re buying it.”

Now, I’m all for men looking better and feeling more confident. But here’s the thing: As for women, Spanx for men only really work if you have just a few extra pounds—the company admits that if you’re 50 pounds overweight they’re not for you. (Don’t tell the guy in this article, but he still has the love handles.) And if you have just a few extra pounds, you should be exercising and eating right to get rid of them, not sweeping them under the metaphorical rug.

I’ve been there, and I understand that those last 5-10 pounds are the hardest to lose. But the work will be well worth it on that first night with that awesome girl, when she peels off your shirt and your t-shirt and sees…abs.

The part of this story I found a little disturbing, though, was this:

Stephen Viscusi, a career coach, couldn’t agree more. He thinks that all men over 40 should wear Spanx to job interviews. …Although Mr. Viscusi is 39, he wears Spanx T-shirts routinely. He recently wore them to see executives from Bravo and VH1. “It gave me pecs, gave me definition, it gave me confidence,” he said.

There’s a great way to get pecs: it’s called a bench press. And men over 40 should be doing it just as often as younger men. You don’t lose your chest when you hit 40, as long as you take your exercise seriously, and if you take your health seriously, you should take your exercise…okay, okay. Look at it another way: do you remember the first time you managed to pop the bra off that totally stacked hottie, only to see her breasts sag down six inches? Would you like that to be you? I didn’t think so.

Now, there are some legitimate uses for Spanx for Men and other “mirdles”: there are men with back problems or other conditions that can be eased with a compression undergarment. But they’re not a true solution for being overweight. Underneath it all is still the real you, and the greatest way you can build confidence is to tackle the problem at its source. And unlike your height or your hair, you can always do something about your spare tire. (And you know, exercise might help your back too.)

And if you do—if you even just start—it will give you as much confidence as a whole drawer full of Spanx.

Men’s ‘Shapewear’ Is a Retail Hit [NY Times]
Goodbye moobs and muffin top! Two writers share their experience as the man girdle guinea pigs
[Daily Mail]

8 comments… read them below or add one

stephen viscusi June 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

About the part you find disturbing:
Some men who have been unemployed for a year or more, do not have the luxary of affording a gym membership to “bench-press”. Yes exercise is best…having a job is even better. Do you have any unempoyed freinds or are you living in a bubble?
Stephen Viscusi
Author: “Bulletproof Your Job”


Michael June 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for dropping by, Stephen. I know that times are tough for some people. However, no money = no problem when it comes to working out. In fact, I wrote an article with some great exercises you can do anywhere, with no equipment required:

And taking it up a notch isn’t expensive, using sandbags and homemade medicine balls for weighted exercises. Add a home chin-up bar and who needs a gym?

I hope this helps.


Schmidty - Man Vs. Style June 9, 2010 at 9:37 pm

The problem is that everyone (in today’s day and age) want an instant solution for everything. Its a little sad that we go this way. There are so many different types and style of clothing that can give the illusion of being slimmer any way, that I don’t think these are really necessary.


Pat October 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I go to the gym almost every day and I see guys all the time that work really hard and still have a gut and love handles. I guess I don’t have a problem with a little help when you want to look your best.


Michael October 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Although I question whether the guys you’re seeing might be missing something nutritionally, you make a good point, Pat: as long as they’re not using it in order to forgo fitness, a structured garment isn’t a sin.


Johnny V August 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Guys, guys, guys c’mon now. I lost my job a while back and while I began to bootstrap an idea into a business, I neither had the money to go to a gym, nor the time to get there. However, I knew I still had to exercise. So what I did was very simple. Bodyweight exercises. Six exercises that I decided I would do six days per week, (taking Sundays off). I did handstand holds, (when I started I was 252 lbs and a pack a day smoker so no excuses). Basically I kicked up into a handstand and held it there. At first I couldn’t get more than a 10 second static hold but I kept at it. Next I did bodyweight squats. I started with 25 and added 5 reps for every day I worked out. (example: day 1=25, day 2=30 day 3=35), I also did push-ups, sit-ups, horizontal rows (on the perfect pullup I had in my doorway) and supermans. I added one rep each day to each exercise, (example day1=15 push-ups, day 2=16 push-ups etc). I figured it didn’t matter how long it took me because I didn’t have a job anyway so I took my time. I also started walking everyday. Well flash forward a month and I’m up to nearly 1000 bodyweight squats, 75 push-ups, 130 sit-ups, 75 rows and I can now do 7 full handstand push-ups. Lost 20 pounds and am looking pretty incredible for just doing some bodyweight exercises in my bedroom. Been asked a few times which gym I go to. Don’t be thinking you need to waste money on a lousy gym membership. It’s overrated. As far as the spanx thing goes, I wouldn’t get all hung up on a shirt. If it makes you feel better, hey go for it.


Michael September 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I agree 100%, Johnny!

In fact, I wrote about bodyweight exercises right here, and I’ll have more soon.

But if you do have spare funds, many men find that a gym keeps them motivated. It’s about the same amount as a basic cable subscription, so there’s something you can add to your life if you decide to “cut the cord.”

shane May 7, 2015 at 5:52 am

I love spanks for men, I don’t go to the gym and I’m 5’8 and 165 with a little bit of a gut, if you think guys shouldn’t wear spandex or banks don’t wear it not all of us want to go to the gym and I think Spanx does an excellent job holding in your stomach women have been using things to make themselves look beautiful such as makeup and high heels and pantyhose for years I think it’s wonderful that men actually take some pride in their body and do what they need to do whether it is a quick fix or not to look nice there is nothing more disgusting than seeing and out of shape overweight fat man with a hanging over his belt


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