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Laverne H. Bardy Headshot

My Imperfect Body

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I watched the Academy Awards the other evening and was in awe of all the beautiful faces and bodies. I swear, those people never age. Well... maybe they do but, after all, how tacky would it be to show up in a new, $15,000 designer gown, wearing yesterday's face and breasts?

I was especially alert to the fact that nobody jiggled or bounced, until one of the pre-show interviewers revealed that virtually everyone's body was harnessed and held in place by Spanx and various other body shapers. Everyone's body, that is, but Jennifer Lopez's. Her perky breasts appeared to have minds of their own, with no intention of being upstaged by the lovely gown that was fencing them in. They refused to be covered, confined or overlooked, as they fought to break lose from textile restraints. My husband and I took bets on which one would break lose and win the race for freedom. We both agreed that had she been on stage a few minutes longer, the left one would have won. It had already begun showing signs of upstaging the right one. We were happy that we have TiVo because when Lopez and her girls left the stage, we suddenly realized we never even saw the actress who was presenting with her.

Everyone who cares about looking as good as possible, wears Spanx. For those of you living under a mushroom, Spanx is a thin, tight-fitting second skin kind of underpants, that pulls you in and smooths out all traces of unwanted flab. It comes in various styles and lengths, and can make you look as much as 10 pounds slimmer.

I bought my first pair of Spanx immediately after seeing the shock and revulsion on the face of the size six exhibitionist standing not five feet from me in the public dressing room at Loehmann's. She was pirouetting in front of a three way mirror, in a red string bikini, when she caught sight of my hard-to-conceal fully-packed body.

"Ya' know," she said in a Valley Girl way that had her statement sounding like a question, "you don't have to look like that."

"Like what?" I asked, trying hard to pretend I wasn't aware of her insulting implication.

"Like that." And she pointed to my semi naked, scarred, been-around-the-block-a-few-times, rippled torso.

"You can wear Spanx and look much slimmer," she said, "and none of those lumps will show."

I looked down at my stomach, remembering the last time I had seen my feet was in 1981.

"I used to have a body just like yours," I said. "It never occurred to me that it would change. But this is the result of four pregnancies, 17 surgeries, 70 years and an intense hatred of the gym. This is your future, sweetie. See it and weep."

Apparently I am the only living person unable to wear Spanx. I purchased three pairs, in various styles and sizes, and I don't know how to get into any of them. I'm far slimmer than some of the hugely overweight people I know who wear them. I don't understand how they get into them and walk. And breathe, too.

What I do is slip one leg into the Spanx leg, then my other leg into the other Spanx leg, fall back onto my bed, with my legs in the air, and pull, wiggle, struggle and sweat. Only once did I manage to pull them over my thighs and up to my rib cage. Then I stood in front of a full length mirror and gasped. Everything I had ever heard was true. My shape had been amazingly altered. My belly was flat. No lumps. No bumps.

But, the fat had to go some place. Consequently, I had a second set of breasts and my thighs looked like torpedoes.

I'm learning to appreciate my imperfect shape. As I was lying in bed watching the Academy Awards, I realized I felt sorry for all those women with breast implants. Most of them are unable to see the television screen when they lie on their backs, in bed. I, on the other hand, have no problem at all. When I lie on my back, my girls rest comfortably in each armpit, exactly as God intended.