Thursday, October 25, 2012

Waist-nipper Review

The thing about having a baby is that it changes your body in ways that you might not expect.  Two weeks after giving birth to Cate, I was at my pre-pregnancy weight but not my pre-pregnancy waistline.  I assumed that this was because I had a grapefruit-sized fibroid still in my uterus, but after having had that removed, my waistline actually didn't change (which is really odd when you think about it).  Having a baby seems to have given me a permanent pooch.

Everybody's body changes with time.  The effects of gravity on the bustline are fairly well-known, for instance.  And don't get me started on the dark spots on my face that seemed to have just shown up one day out of the blue.  And, I've gained 40 lbs since high school (most of it in grad school which tends to have that effect on people; the freshman fifteen has nothing on the grad school thirty).  But, I have to say I find the pooch the most disturbing change of all.  I think it's because it's not something that happened gradually over time and it is absolutely counter to my pre-pregnancy body type.

Everyone accumulates fat weight in different places but each individual person usually has a standard place added weight shows up on their body.  I have, ever since I was aware of the concept of putting on weight, put on weight in my thighs and butt.  Sure, it accumulates in other regions but always proportionately to everywhere else (except, of course, when it goes straight to my thighs).  I have always had what may politely be called athletic thighs even though I have never, ever been athletic.  But, I have never, ever had a stomach pooch until now.  Frankly, it's upsetting.  It just makes my body look wrong to me.  My body is now fundamentally a different shape than it was before.  In all my years, my body may have gotten bigger around, but the proportions have stayed the same.  Now it is off, weird.

As far as I can determine, the pooch is due to a loosening of muscles that occurs during pregnancy as a way to allow your belly to make room for your baby.  It is often worse in women with twins and triplets and, while I only had one baby, I also had a very large fibroid in there with her which may have contributed to this pooch business.

Lord this is getting long.  At any rate, it seems that the right set of exercises can help minimize the pooch, but what do I do until then? 

A lot of the sewing blogs that I read are written by people who like and often wear vintage (or repro-vintage) style.  And, of course, Mad Men has made certain vintage style more popular.  And, if you read about vintage style long enough, eventually you are going to read something about vintage foundation garments.  It seems that, in times past, if you didn't have the right body shape to fit in the fashions of the time, you buckled yourself into enough shapewear garments until you did.  Then, times progressed and we did away with restrictive foundation garments and that has come to be seen as a way of declaring our freedom of the restrictions of the past.  Now, we are infinitely more progressive and in order to fit into the fashions of the time, we shame people about their bodies so they will attempt to lose weight so that they will have the right body shape and in the process become neurotic, stressed, and unhealthy.

It may just be me, but I think shapewear was probably a kinder solution.

ANYWAY (will she ever come to the point? you wonder), in the 1950s, if you wanted to be fashionable, you needed to have a tiny waist.  If you were not blessed with a tiny waist, then you wore a waist-nipper or a waspie.

So, I decided to try one of these out and purchased a Flexees waist-nipper and wore it all day today.  My activities today included taking care of an infant, shopping at target, and a nap.  It was comfortable enough that I did all of those things while wearing it and never thought, "Dear God, how did women in the 50s do it?" (the thought that I might feel like I was being tortured all day was one of the reasons I had never tried a waist-nipper until now).  Most of the time, I forgot it was there.

Now, another reason I wanted to try the waist-nipper was that I have been having a problem with my lower back and I thought it might provide some extra support (I mean, a waist-nipper is really just a nicer-looking version of one of those supportive back belts, when you come to think of it).  I am happy to say that my back did feel better at the end of today than it has felt at the end of most days.

So, all in all, I think it was a good investment.  It was comfortable, helped with my back, and of course it contained the pooch (also, I think it may have helped keep might tights from falling down, always a good thing).  I'm not sure I want to wear one every single day, mind you (in the summer it would be far too hot to be wearing that sort of thing all the time), but it was comfortable enough and beneficial enough to my back to want to wear one most days during the fall and winter.  I'll just have to hope that the pooch is moderated by the time next summer rolls around!

(Edited to add:  Gertie of Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing has talked about foundation garments in many of her posts.  This one is the one that really made me start thinking about how women have tried to achieve a desirable shape in the past vs the present. )

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