Spanx For The Memories

12 11 2011

Aside from death and taxes, one thing is certain: Culture changes. It is fluid. Dynamic. A moving target. For those who can deal with change and ambiguity, this is not a bad thing. Societies create cultural ideal points that mold and shape gender roles and expectations, but even things we think are absolutes are in reality absolutely unfixed.

There have been many changes during my life with regard to the roles of men and women. I for one am very happy with the changes, because the old expectations were a little too nuanced with religion. Never mind that the vestiges of our agricultural and later industrial economy managed to linger on for many years.

But things are different now. Women are not tied to the house. And men are a lot less likely to be engaged in physical labor, be it on the farm and ranch, or in a factory. More than likely, 21C Man is likely to encounter 21C woman in the office. And with these changes we see that the cultural male is rapidly evolving in ways that few if any could have ever predicted.

Like the idea of men wearing body-shaping undergarments.

While many women consider Spanx to be their best friend, not many guys are familiar with the product line. In the last six months, though, I have encountered Spanx For Men in department stores like Dillard&3039;s selling Spanx For Men. Undershirts. Briefs. Basically, girdles for men.

But wait, there’s more. Now there are companies selling moisturizers and weight-loss products for men. Next thing you know it will be taking us longer to get ready. “Honey, do these jeans make me look fat? I’s been carefully allocating my Weight Watchers points for two months now.”

The problem for guys during this transition is that we’ve got two different voices in our heads. One says, “C’mon. Be a man. Beat your chest. Be a low self-monitor (read: don’t shave every day).” But then the other voice is saying, “Those jeans really do make you look fat. And your cheeks look a little gruffy. You could use a little foundation.”

Hold on a sec there.

Traditionalists will decry the incipient feminization of men. Why doesn’t Spanx just come out and package these briefs for what they are: Control Top Underwear?

Which raises the question: Who gets to determine what is right and wrong for men and women? Who says men can’t use moisturizer or wear body-shaping undergarments? Who says that vanity is reserved for the female of the species?

While I have no problem with any of this, I am not quite ready for Spanx. The old school guy in me wants to earn my fitness and physique the hard way. And I rather like being a low self-monitor, especially on the weekends and when out of town (rubs three-day growth on chin). But who am I to stand in the way of change? From what I hear, a lot of women would actually like their guy to pay a little more attention to appearance. Maybe not to the point of fighting over the mirror, but at least enough to look good and smell halfway decent.

On the flip side, I am all too happy to send the Marlboro Man packing, and everything he implicitly stood for. Riding a horse. Wearing a cowboy hat. Working hard in the outdoors. And those nasty cigarettes.

In the mean time, if any of you could refer an Avon Lady my way, it might be time to at least take a look at this change around us. It’s quite possible I may need to exfoliate something around here.

Dr “Bottom Line” Gerlich

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