This morning, two intrepid Gawker journalists traveled all the way to Midtown Manhattan to peruse the new fall Fashion Week showcase of Spanx, the body-squeezing clothing-and-undergarment line for women—and men. Having done our research, we now ask: Are Spanx good, or evil?

Caity Weaver: Spanx Are Good

Animal behavior expert Temple Grandin revolutionized the livestock industry when she publicized the anxiety-quelling benefits of a firm pressure applied to the midsection for animals. Today, her legacy extends all the way from the slaughterhouse and shambles to the Thundershirt, a compression garment designed to decrease anxiety in domestic pets during thunderstorms and other stressful situations.

But why should cattle about to be ended or dogs during a thunderstorm have all the fun? Don't humans enjoy being loved and cuddled and squeezed and calmed?

Enter: Spanx. A discreet all-day embrace. A Thundershirt for your thunder thighs.

Who wouldn't want to walk around all day feeling a firm hug from their clothes?

"We love you! We're gonna hug you so tight, so tight, UGH, never let go, UGH, we love you so much!"

Spanx are underpants full of hugs. That quality alone should be enough to send them flying off the shelves, but Spanx, ever giving, do more than just provide: they also taketh away—your body fat.

Here are some things you could do if you were a little bit smaller:

  1. Fit into a pair of jeans you bought even though they were a little too small because they were on sale and you convinced yourself you could lose weight
  2. Get bypassed by a bullet that would otherwise have grazed you
  3. Wear children's clothes (COST EFFECTIVE)
  4. Sleep on a piece of bread
  5. Ride a butterfly to work

Spanx combine the appearance of a slightly trimmer body with the effort of lying on the couch eating bon-bons. In fact, that's the first thing you notice when you walk into the Fall 2013 Fashion Week Spanx suite at the Empire Hotel—a huge display of glass jars literally filled with bonbons: m&ms, jellybeans, marshmallows dipped in chocolate.

"Help yourself!" the pretty Spanx ladies say, before inviting you to run your sticky fingers over all manner of underwear. "You can have some now; you can have some after. Or both!"

And you know what? You can. You can have as many candy-coated candies as you want, because tomorrow morning, you're going to wake-up and go for a two-mile jog. Just kidding—you're going to slap on a pair of Spanx and look as if you had.

There are potential educational benefits as well. In theory, you should be able to layer Spanx on top of Spanx on top of Spanx, eventually compressing yourself down to become infinitesimally small and infinitely dense until [via the influence of some catalyst], your body explodes, skin bursting through its Spanxian prison and expanding to fill the universe. Your life will prove an invaluable to modern astronomers. Your Spanx will change the way textbooks are written.

They also come in seasonal shades.

Hamilton Nolan: Spanx Are Evil

Nothing good comes from Spanx. Spanx are fundamentally intended to deceive. They deceive not only the people they are intended to impress; they also deceive their wearers, by whispering to them, "this is fine. This is normal. This is what clothes are supposed to be like."

"Anything you can put on that will suck you in, we will make it," announced the PR lady at the Spanx showroom in the Empire Hotel. How about leeches? Will Spanx make leeches, for women to wear? Or a huge whirlpool, to drown you? I'm sure that they would. Leeches and whirlpools make your near-dead body appear smaller, which is the Spanx corporate mission, to be accomplished at all costs.

"Obviously swimwear is kind of tough," she said, as she presented a rack of bathing suits that were quite clearly made of thick, restricting foam that could likely fend off a knife attack. The Spanx-ness of the suits was concealed by layer upon layer of superfluous ruffles. "Oh, these ruffles?" you might ask as you squeezed into your sausage-casing bathing suit. "I just like how these strange, billowy ruffles look. In, you know, the water." Then you pass out, suffocated.


They also showed us their "sexy shapewear," which is what lingerie might be if it was a black sheet of rubber encasing the entire torso with a few meager cutout spaces replace with black fishnetting, for that provocative "This Garment Is Slightly Less Than 100% Restrictive Spandex" look. They are designed to send the message, "I am painfully insecure about my body, but please, by all means, fuck me."


To repay the patriarchy, there are men's versions of Spanx. Some of them are "compression," other are "non-shaping undershirts," which is to say, regular undershirts, but more expensive. There are also Spanx boxer briefs, for men. Joke joke joke joke joke. Regardless, no self-respecting real man would ever wear some Spanx compression undergarments. We have Under Armour for that, which is more masculine, somehow.

In conclusion did you know Spanx cost like $200? Take that money and join a gym.

Image by Jim Cooke.