We Don’t Have “Problem Areas”


Oh boy, this is a pet peeve. I hear it mostly on the home shopping channels (gulp, if I ever, um, happen to have the TV tuned to one of them while I am, errr, polishing up an article for the New York Times). The cheery host or model points to the latest tunic top (two easy payments!) and delivers the good news: it covers all those problem areas!

I know they mean our midriffs, in this case. Other garments mercifully cover over our problem hips, “derrieres”, thighs and upper arms. Sometimes the salespeople make little unhappy faces as they mention the offending body region, or they smile ruefully and pat their own (perfectly nice) hips.

Of course, I don’t want to expose all my body secrets to the waking public. What a world it would be. I like to drape garments over my body to make a pleasing line. Because I have a relatively small waist, I like to wear clothes with waists, and/or I add a belt. I don’t wear clothing that clutches on to my hips and thighs because it’s 1) uncomfortable and 2) unprofessional in my workplace.

My thighs are not a “problem” however! Sometimes my finances are a problem, my cat having allergies can be a problem, and new construction making me late for work is a  . . problem. My pale, slightly dimpled thighs are just mine. My upper arms have lost a bit of their struggle vs. gravity but they are not a problem. They are  . . . interesting. I choose to show them or not, and for work I choose not.

I rarely hear any garments for men, of any size or shape, touted as covering up their troublesome bits. “This polo shirt will not cling to that problem tummy, guys, so grab two!”

We want to dress to look better, or we wouldn’t be reading and posting on fashion blogs. It’s natural to want to look good, we’re built that way. Do I sound grumpy? I’m not. I am a happy woman who objects to the problem-ification of my body parts. Does that mean I have a . . . problem?

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  1. You're absolutely right about this. Rather than fretting about the 'problems', we should wear things that make the most of our favourite bits. And I'd never thought about it but it's true: I've never heard anybody referring to men's clothes as 'hiding problem areas'.

  2. Love this article! So true. Can't bear it when people in my industry make women to be flawed all the time. Everything is an asset, just some assets you prefer to flaunt and others not. Nothing is wrong with you. You are perfect as you are.

  3. Patti, I can't believe I missed this! Absolutely brilliant and well written! My body's been too good to me to start labeling certain areas as "problems". It's not a problem, it's a body! Hugs to you! ~Serene

  4. I really like this post. So true. The "world" gives us the idea from when we are born that it is expected of us to "look good" while males should be "smart, strong and powerful." I'm a greedy b!tch > I want to look good, be smart, strong and powerful too!! My problem area is one portion of my flowergarden that insists on growing proliferous weeds despite efforts to thwart them. Oh that I could "camoflauge" them instead!

  5. Actually, I suspect that men do have problem areas–note how they begin to wear elasticized waists in their "dotage"…it just isn't publicized as much.

  6. I guess evrey part of us is a "problem area". Ugh.
    My pet peeve of the week is the gender bias with old women vs old men. "men look better old"….NOT TRUE!!!!! dont get me going~
    Enjoyed this post immensely~ Love, Paula

  7. I totally agree with you!
    and what bugs me the most is that guys seem to be able to get away with anything! It's so not fair.

    And i laughed out loud when you said "of course I don't want to expose my body secrets to the walking public!" haha, yeah me neither 😉

    Notes She Wrote

  8. I'm not trying to hide problem areas… except for the part of my dining room where the paint got chipped off from my daughter throwing her Dora doll across the room!

    I love what you said, and it is so true. Men don't hide their bodies, and we shouldn't either. Just as men decide to wear the short length or shirt style that they think is best for them and they like, so should we. We are blessed to have this body, we should celebrate it, not punish it and call it bad names.

  9. Somehow covers up problem areas sounds better than covers up jiggly bits.

    Nevertheless, I'm not trading in my skirted swim suit!

  10. Patti, Thanks for mentioning the gender bias. I have to hide my midriff, but guys can just let it all hang out?
    I agree, too, with anonymous…don't you just hate that word. I just say underwear. It's neutral!
    This is a thought provoking post and I love your positive slant and looks like you've got the conversation going!
    Debbie http://thriftygirlvintage.com

  11. You're perfectly right. I can't say this is a revelation to me, but I'm glad you're discussing it.

    Part of the problem is that from an early age, females are encouraged to display their bodies in a way that men aren't. The female body exists for the delectation of men.

    Can you imagine a little dog pulling down the pants of a baby Coppertone *boy*?

    Of course not. Because that would be undignified and prurient, even with a three-year-old male. But with a girl, it's fine.

    It may sound silly, but even the names of women's undergarments are silly. Men would never wear something called "panties." It sounds stupid, evokes smirks and conjures up sex. Yet it's a basic, everyday piece of women's clothing.

    Unfortunately, a lot of women don't care about undermining themselves and other women. Then when they're older and can't rely on their physical attractions, suddenly they have a slight clue what other women — those dreadful feminists — were talking about.

  12. How about if I wear something that covers my fat parts. I'd need a mumuu/tent. I guess it's time to come to grips with reality and show my legs sometime. It makes me gag but pics really do tell me about things to work on. They are not problems, they are projects.

  13. Patti i enjoyed reading this post, everything you say is SO TRUE.
    We are told that we have problems and sometimes we are made to think we have them, when we don't 🙁

  14. Well said! This reminded me of a friends comment whilst discussing feminism and sexism. Her rule of thumb to determine, in her words, whether there is sexist claptrap afoot is to ask "Are men doing it" And you're right men are not buying or being sold polo shirts to hide their 'problem' areas. For myself I know this, mentally and logically but I'm not all the way there in implementing it, I still think, I can't wear this my arms look squishy or my hips look too much. But small steps.

  15. I almost photo cropped my belly out of the Visible Monday photo…but flat refused to let myself be insane about my body shape! LOL Part of the reason for me doing those is to accept and love my fluffier self, not crop it out!

    Something my yoga instructor once said stuck with me through the years.

    "Be not the first to cut yourself up".

    I think of that every time I think a disparaging thought about myself!


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