the male spanx experiment


I was so surprised to see Spanx in the men’s department at Nordstrom, I thought I would accidentally release the permanent suck from wearing Spanx of my own. 

“Is this a joke?” I blurted, as images of beer bellies and love handles morphed into super heroes shaped like a V. “Are guys buying these?”

“Spanx is a billion dollar industry,” a trim and tidy salesman explained. Maybe a billion for women, but for bulging gents with a Captain America fetish, a few pennies dribbled here and there. Real men don’t give a damn.

“Men are wearing eye shadow too” he whispered, trying not to embarrass me for being so out of touch. Then he finished his hard-sell pitch: “Not just gay men, straight men.”

With a convenient straight man at home, I decided to put this “expect more from your undershirt” hogwash to the test. If my straight man agreed to wear Spanx or Manx as the advertising goes, I’d march back in there and eat my shorts -- I mean my Spanx -- even the super-duper shapers with “butt-lets” for added “junk in the trunk.”  

I’ve spent years trying to get the guy at home to put moisturizer on his dry skin, sunscreen on his red skin, whiten his teeth, use hair gel, wear skinny European suits, and lose the un-Spanx-ness that has settled around his waist. He won’t even let me use his pocket for gooey lipstick so I don’t have to carry a purse, while he refuses to use a man bag.

Would this kind of guy wear Manx?

Spanx undershirts come in two helpful shapes, one with sleeves and one without. Since my token straight man gets hot wearing socks, I chose the hard core level 3 tank that firms the chest, narrows the waist, flattens the stomach, improves posture, and most critically, is made of breathable cotton.

If the tank can breathe, maybe he won’t notice he can’t.

There was only one reason I thought this would work. In the past week, Raybo had tried on 17 wetsuits because he’s jealous I have one. Me looking more buff than him rubs his ego like tight clothes give him a rash.  He’s been modeling these suits primping and flexing, looking like Lloyd Bridges in that old Sea Hunt show.

Trusting my “thin-stincts,” a Spanx-y term, I tried my luck.  

“So Spanx feels like a wetsuit” he uttered, playing right into my hands. The fact you wear one underwater avoiding sharks and the other in a bar sipping cocktails did not immediately occur to him.

What did occur to him is he could look five pounds thinner so I’d stop nagging him, and get a layer of warmth should he flex his pecs in Antarctica. He even called the experiment our little spank-a-thon.

With the strength of a weight lifter and the perseverance of an endurance athlete, he pulled the Manx over his head and lo and behold, I saw the V at his waist and fully expected an H on his chest:  H for hunk. “You look slim and trim whether or not you hit the gym,” I mewed, adding a little Spanx verbiage. 

Then he tried to get it off. I mean really, really tried.

First it was fun: “Did this come with insurance because I might hurt myself,” he laughed. Then this, “I can curl 45 pounds in each hand but I can’t pull this over my head.” Then this, “If I tear a rotator cuff I’ll sue their butt-lets.”And finally this, “Get me the scissors, I swear, get me the scissors.”

The results of the test? The “fit was a hit” but the “hunk flunked.”

Maybe Spanx should sell wetsuits. For that I believe he would suffer.

March 7, 2013

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