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 freshpair.com [and ToB affiliate partner BareNecessities.com, 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.