Being Broadtail: Body shaping
Last week, a close friend asked me "What do you do when you are about to get intimate with your partner and you have on a girdle?"
Well, she asked the right person because I own seven girdles. I have one for each day of the work week. I even have one I call my ‘Beyoncé’ girdle. When I wear it, I actually strut like Beyoncé and, because it keeps me so well tucked-in, my back is straight, my "broadtail" is rounder and my breasts stand at attention!
I also have a flesh-toned thong girdle—which is sheer torture but very necessary for outfits that need that type of covert coverage.
My girdles range in cost from J$2,500 (big up to mi girdle lady in Half Way Tree) to about J$12,000 for my “Yoncé” girdle with its hooks, zip and extra tuck. I know you’re probably already doing the math, but…can you really put a price on confidence?
The other day I actually had a series of mini-heart attacks because I had to go to a soca cruise ‘girdle-less.' The dress I wanted to wear was crochet and a girdle underneath it would have absolutely killed the sexiness. I had to don a two-piece swimsuit and, yes, the belly was going to be out!!! I had horrible flashes of my belly hitting my lap in the middle of an epic soca wine and I honestly felt uncomfortable.
It was so bad that Dr Debi-Ann Newell (my co-designer a.k.a. the "Design Doctor" at Broadtail Designs) had to take a photo of me (with the FLASH!) just to show me that I still looked sexy. Crisis averted and all was well in the world of "free bellies."
I can almost feel the judgment coming. Am I really comfortable with my body if I need a girdle for each day/occasion? Well, are you uncomfortable with your natural hair just because you wear box braids?
For full-figured women to get the best fit in most outfits, it starts with the undergarments. That wise advice was given to me by Trudi-Ann Hersdman, owner of Kurvity (a clothing store for full-figured women) about a decade ago.
The best way to achieve that desired smooth look in a bodycon dress or a high waisted pantsuit in the absence of "washboard abs" is with shapewear. Believe me, if it didn't work, companies such as Spanx would not have the international market share that they enjoy.
Wearing girdles or shapewear is not just a full-figured woman trend. Women of all sizes are wearing shapewear for that coveted smooth, contoured body to look and feel their very best. And, don't be alarmed, but "mirdles" (shapewear for men) are also quite popular among men who want that same smooth finish under their outfits. I actually wouldn't be surprised if some of our Jamaican men were wearing "mirdles" as they pose for their very manly photos on "the 'Gram"...but I digress.
In my observation, the growing trend in Jamaica is to put out a plethora of sponsored posts on the most popular social media platforms and even advertisements in traditional media (mostly radio) for "fat freezing," "breast and bottom plumping" and getting that ever elusive post-birth "snapback." I haven't actually tried any of those methods but I have seen the "before and after" photos posted and some seem quite impressive.
My brush with the girdle-less life taught me a valuable lesson. Whatever your insecurities may be, they're usually not as bad as you think. Sometimes you may want someone else to reiterate just how awesome you actually are. Sometimes you may want to let your belly hang out. I am not suggesting you throw out your shapewear and let your belly perpetually hang out. Neither am I suggesting you go on a crazy girdle shopping spree.
My advice? Do whatever makes you feel confident, healthy and truly happy because we never body shame…we body shape!
So, to answer my friend's question: "I slip into the bathroom, wiggle out of the shapewear (if it is the ‘Yoncé girdle', that one has clips so it is actually much easier to get out of) pretend to be "freshening up" and strut out ready to rumble…or cuddle.
Dania Beckford is the Managing Director of BroadTail Designs, a full-figured apparel company in Jamaica that specializes in resort wear. She is also a Brand Communication Consultant.