“Normal” Bodies: Is Shape Wear Squeezing Teens The Wrong Way?

One of the best things about the trajectory of feminism is that we've developed the language and practice of being able to wear what we like. From the rib-squishing Elizabethan corset to bloomers to blue jeans (the latter wasn't readily available to women until the earlier part of the 20th century), the fight to determine our own method of dress — while simultaneously divorcing it from the male gaze — is an ongoing one.
So, how do we feel about the rise of shape wear? On one hand, the flattening, form-defining undergarment boosts confidence and can make a red-carpet gown look seamless. But on the other, you've got a burgeoning generation turning to these tightening products so they don't "stand out for the wrong reasons." In fact, "Spankies," teenage versions of the once-for-mature-ladies-only line, are apparently a rising trend.
Yet, and not to state the obvious, the reason why Spanx works is because it squeezes the body, smooshing internal organs. Good Morning America claims to have spoken to a New York doctor who has treated girls for bladder infections, nerve damage, and gastrointestinal issues. (Plus, whatever host of psychological damage creating body illusions might cause).
The notion of "normalizing" a body and creating a perfect figure suddenly sends us back to that scene in Titanic where Rose gets painfully laced up in a suffocating corset (Behold: a metaphor!). Are these just modern girdles? Or, do Spanx provide a little help where needed, like a push-up bra? Sure, the right to wear what you want, be it Spanx or steel-toed combat boots, is a part of modern feminism. But, it is never fashionable when pain and physical restriction becomes a part of what's "normal." (Jezebel)
Is teenage shape wear a real health issue, or is this just sensationalism?

Photo: Courtesy of BareNecessities

More from College

R29 Original Series