When I was in college in 1958 my dad made a comment that my generation was the worst generation ever, meaning primarily morals and music. It’s a statement most dads have probably made to sons over the millennia. My retort was, “well what about the Roaring Twenties, bathtub gin and petting parties?” After denials of his involvement in any of that, this line of conversation ceased.
Those who came of age in the fifties lived through what is now considered one of the tamest times since the Victorian era. It was the age of Doris Day, hula hoops, and dancing the jitterbug. It was the heyday of the Catholic Legion of Decency, and airbrushed body parts in Playboy center spreads.
But most of all it was the age of the girdle. Young women with great shapes felt they had to improve on Mother Nature’s perfection. The ultimate development of the girdle was the panty girdle, the modern day equivalent of the chastity belt. A gentleman caller knew instantly from a gentle pat on the fanny that the best he could hope for was a gentle kiss goodnight.
All that changed in the sixties and seventies. The boomers burned their bras and shed their girdles. Bras had a revival simply because of gravity and inevitable natural aging but the girdle went the way of the buggy whip. However the lady boomers who thought modern diets and Jane Fonda workouts would keep them forever looking 18, found fat deposits still wanted to migrate from their top parts to their tummies and rear ends.
In 2000 the mother of necessity answered the need and Spanx was invented. Now you can’t call it a girdle, it wouldn’t sell. It is a development of panty hose with a super duty fabric. And it is spreading to a younger generation. But it has its drawbacks as reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Before Jessica Kraus put on a tight-fitting frock one recent evening, she wriggled into a $76 piece of flesh-toned underwear that extended from the bottom of her bra to mid-thigh. She felt confident and svelte as she left her apartment to meet friends for cocktails. Then a few hours later, the 25-year-old Boston event planner was faced with what she says was a "horrific situation." As she was embracing a man she had met that night, Ms. Kraus got to thinking about what lurked beneath her sleek exterior. "There's no graceful way of taking the thing off," she says.
The world has come full circle. Will this dampen the sexual revolution? It’s doubtful anything can. And I hope not.