Why Is Nobody Talking About Option C?

Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.

It’s last call on Saturday night, and the lights come on. You and your soon-to-be partner in the bedroom lock eyes from across the bar. His shirt is untucked, his hair a little ruffled, the mug of beer in his hand almost empty. But under the circumstances — it being 3:45 a.m. and all — he looks good. You, on the other hand, look fantastic. Your pre-dinner blowout is still in full volume, last time you checked there was no lipstick on your teeth, and most importantly, the Spanx you’re wearing underneath your sheath of a dress has you looking tight, perky, and toned.
With a wink, he approaches you, words are exchanged, and you decide to go back to his place. As he begins to take off your clothes, you:

A) Ask him to turn off all the lights and shut his eyes so that you can remove your Spanx without him seeing anything.

B) Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom, where you hide your Spanx in the cabinet below the sink.

C) Take your dress off to reveal your nude shorts, complete with suspenders and a pee hole, because this guy is lucky to be hooking up with you.

In the past, I have almost always gone with Option B, using a trashcan, my fist, or a roommate’s dopp kit in place of the under-the-sink cabinet. I was embarrassed about wearing Spanx because, as commonplace as they are in both men's and women's wardrobes, they’re considered as deleterious to a partner’s libido as a pre-coital fart.

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In the past, I have almost always gone with Option B, using a trashcan, my fist, or a roommate’s dopp kit in place of the under-the-sink cabinet.

No matter the design, no matter the color — both of which there are many — there is nothing I find sexy about Spanx. It’s a workout to put them on, they resemble an ACE bandage when you’re wearing them, and taking them off is a slow, peeling process that can sometimes require the help of another person. But the point isn’t to look sexy in them. The point is to squeeze our bodies into smooth, sexy silhouettes and dupe the rest of the world into believing we were — cue the Lady Gaga — Born This Way.

But before Spanx were Spanx, they were girdles: an undergarment dating back to the 1920s designed to enhance a woman’s figure. They were so popular that by the '60s, they had superseded pantyhose and became the intimate of choice for most women, including the era’s preeminent sex icon, Marilyn Monroe. And while even then girdles were everything but sexy — my grandfather used to describe watching my grandmother put on her girdle as “trying to put a hardboiled egg into a milk bottle” — they were also everything but taboo in the bedroom.

Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.


So why now, in an age when the topic of sex is so acceptable, does it still feel so unacceptable to wear Spanx before we get down to business in the bedroom?

A Google search for “Sex and Spanx” yields thousands of results, most of which involve women wondering how to go about getting frisky when their nether regions are ensconced in compression shorts.

Related: Are You Aware Of Your 360?

The Internet's response? Leave your Spanx at home if you think you’re going to be having sex that night, or go with Option B! Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom, where you hide your Spanx in the cabinet below the sink. Other results offer stories of women trying to have sex in Spanx, but feeling the need to warn their partner first about the kind of underwear they’re wearing. And of course, there are references to that infamous moment in Bridget Jones’s Diary when Daniel Cleaver goes to perform cunnilingus on Bridget, only to discover that she’s wearing “enormous panties.”

When I told my boyfriend I was working on a piece about sex and Spanx, his immediate response was, 'Great! Should we have sex while you’re wearing them?'

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Nowhere in my search did I find an article that advocated for Option C: To take off your dress and reveal your nude shorts, complete with suspenders and pee hole, because the man or woman you're with is lucky to be hooking up with you.

When I told my boyfriend I was working on a piece about sex and Spanx, his immediate response was, “Great! Should we have sex while you’re wearing them?” I declined his offer, mainly because we already had — I was wearing a nude Spanx bra the first night we spent together. He had no idea until I told him, just now, because seriously, in the heat of the moment, an unflattering undergarment is the last thing on a man's (or woman’s) mind. He or she is concerned about what’s underneath and, one hopes, what’s going on in your mind.

While it’s entirely subjective whether or not you want your partner to see you in Spanx, all I can say is that if Marilyn Monroe could woo John F. Kennedy while wearing a girdle, and I can secure a boyfriend while wearing a bra suitably fit for Mrs. Doubtfire, then we really should feel nothing but empowerment when standing before our partners in the bedroom wearing control-top panties.

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