As we enter our senior years, it’s gravity that causes our ample flesh to begin packing its bags and heading south like “snowbirds” heading south for the winter. By the time we enter the retirement home, we resemble Shar-Pei puppies. We have rug burns on body parts that once flew so high that air traffic controllers picked them up on radar.
Eventually, we’ll meltdown like Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West. All that will be left will be a large puddle of wrinkled flesh topped by a hat.
I’m about to reveal the secret weapon in our anti-gravity arsenal: foundation garments.
It’s ironic that foundation garments that alter the shape and size of the female form were developed to attract male admiration. Inexperienced young men on a quest for first base often are stymied by the fortress of hidden snaps, hooks, elastic, and nylon which defy strategic ambush.
The corset, a tightly laced undergarment of the 1800s constructed of whalebone stays and fabric was nothing short of an instrument of torture. According to physicians of that era, corsets often deformed women’s rib cages, displaced vital internal organs, and so restricted breathing that women passed out from lack of oxygen.
Corsetted women looked as if one more tug on the laces might pinch their bodies off at the waist, causing their upper torsos to fall off and roll around on the floor like bowling pins. At that time, apparently, men desired women who were built like wasps.
It was a source of great pride if a woman’s perspective beau was able to span her tiny, tightly-bound waist with his hands. My advice would be to take off the corset and find a beau with really big hands. It wouldn’t matter if he was homely, flat broke, and an alcoholic philanderer, as long as he had hands the size of turkey platters.
By the 1960s, corsets had gone out of fashion. However, no respectable young lady would appear in public unless her hips were encased in a sturdy girdle. A woman who jiggled was a loose woman, and I mean that in every sense of the word.
We wore bras whose circles of stitching formed unnaturally pointed cones so sharp and stiff that sharing a quick hug with our boyfriends may result in a trip to the emergency room to repair two gaping holes in his chest.
In the 1980s, corsets briefly returned to the forefront. Or should I say two-front?
In the last few years, there’s been a revolution in foundation garment design. The choices are overwhelming. There are bras inflated with air, lined in wire, and filled with water. For a time, stores promoted a gel-filled bra that cost $78. At that price, it would be cheaper to hire an obedience trainer to teach those babies to sit up and pay attention. For just a few more dollars, you could hire someone to accompany you to special events and hold them up for you.
The clerk in the lingerie department told me that some expensive bras use removable “cookies” to push the breasts front and center for maximum appeal. I decided that it would be cheaper to adapt one of my own cheap bras to duplicate the bosom-enhancing features of more expensive bras. It didn’t work well. My bra was full of Oreo crumbs and it was itchy and uncomfortable. When I undressed in the evening, the cookies were mushy and didn’t taste very good.
I found out that the “cookies” the clerk referred to were actually removable cotton pads. Those worked much better, but tasted terrible, even after I dunked them in hot chocolate.
I’ve decided that having survived this long entitles me to accept the scourge of gravity. I don’t intend to grow old gracefully, the way my grandmas did. I plan to forgo the bra and high heels and opt for comfort. I’m “letting myself go.” If you see me out and about, I’ll be the one wearing sensible shoes, stockings rolled to the knees, a housedress, and pink plastic curlers. Be sure to say hi, and I’ll return the greeting with a big toothless smile and a loose bosom-swaying wave.