What’s Your “Bridge Too Far?”

One of my favorite bloggers, That’s Not My Age, featured a new (to me) undergarment on her blog today: shapewear for arms. Yes, for arms! As TNMA herself said, ” . . . I prefer to let it all hang out. That’s Not My Age Mansions is a Spanx-free zone.” Hooray and love you for saying so, TNMA.

You can buy this version via HSN. The model looks pretty delighted.

The post got me thinking about how far we’ll go to “perfect” our faces and bodies, to make them more palatable to the world at large (no pun intended!). We all have our Bridge Too Far, I think, that place we will not go, that discomfort we will not bear for the sake of conventional beauty.

I don’t own a single compression garment, for example. No control-top hose or Spanx or middle-slimmers. But I am pretty thin, so I realize I don’t have a dog in that fight. If I had a little more flesh on me, would I endure those squeezy things? Probably not; I usually tear off my regular tights, along with shoes, watch, earrings, belt, and rings within sixty seconds of walking through the door.

But I’ll suffer other discomforts for “beauty”: I have bleached my teeth, plucked my brows, lasered some brown spots and (once upon a time) straightened my hair. For me, these completely unnecessary procedures seem/ed worth the pain and expense. So I clearly buy into the advertising-fueled belief that “natural” isn’t acceptable. I pay to color the gray in my hair (financial pain counts!) because I believe my natural gray isn’t as attractive.

We’ve all got our limits, our Bridges Too Far. For me, it’s constrictive underwear. For you, it may be expensive hair color. I’d love to hear what you think. No wrong answers, we’re all working this out.

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  1. I've had my teeth whitened (they were stained) and I have no problem with the occasional Spanx to hold the pooch in place. I know my waxer by name and I have a punch card for the threading salon. 

    The bridge I'm currently refusing to cross, however, is haircolor–despite my ever-growing grays. I colored all through my 20s to become a redhead, but I'm totally conflicted about it now. (And have been since I hit 40. Here's a post I wrote 2 years ago: http://www.closet-coach.com/2010/10/05/gray-hair-should-i-cover-it-or-not/)

  2. I've actually gotten abdominal cramps from tight contol-top stockings! I have wondered about some back-fat squashers, though!

  3. Contouring  garments like  Spanx are often   recommended for women over  40, but its turns out that medically it can be a poor idea.  As the years go by, the muscles in the stomach weaken and we tend to ge tmore reflux and heartburn.  Compressing this area with Spanx actually increases reflux and discomfort.  I'm all for looking better as long as it doesn't impact on health.  

  4. I've had surgery for breast cancer (all gone now!) and I don't currently have lymphedema, but I'm at risk for it.  The standard treatment for someone with bona-fied lymphedema is a compression sleeve.  It's a bit like what you show on the model, but tighter.

    Sometimes when I travel by air I have arm issues. The change in air pressure leaves my surgery side arm feeling a little heavy.  If I were to see a top like this, on sale, I might pick one up for when I'm feeling a bit swollen.

    I'm guessing someone with full-blown lymphedema wouldn't find this supplies enough compression.  I'll have to check on my fav cancer board and see what they think.

  5. interesting question and interesting comments. i prefer it natural with the help of tweezers and a shaver. some times i had my hair dyed maybe i will do it again. one time i had artificial nails but i did not like it and will never have it again. never thought of constrictive underwear and never will. fine food and some exercise will do it also.

  6. I do own spanx but I wear it mainly to smooth things out.  I am normal size and hate to see bumps and lumps on my back or muffin top with skinny jeans.  I am not sure I would do compression arms – they seem a bit constricting.  And the model is a bit on the small side to need compression anything.

    Like you, I do color my hair (every 6 weeks) and I do use Latisse religiously to have full set of lashes.  Why do I do it?  Because it makes me feel good and that's makes it all worth it 🙂

    Great topic!


  7. I won't color my hair. My hair is dark brown and I have natural frosting at the temples and  around the bangs. The more my hair turns the more I like it. I'm working on being a silver fox.

  8. Hi Patti, that picture reminds me of Final Destination 5. Seeings as how you are afraid of the Leprechaun though it's probably not your kind of movie! lol I, however, loved it :o)

    About a year ago I purchased a legg's shaper at CVS and I actually love it. Less than $10. I don't wear it everyday, just days when I have on something which showcases my waist. Takes away any sign of a muffin top or little bulge and it's comfortable. The arm thing is a bit much but I'll never say never.

    I don't think I could wear those ridiculously high heels to save me but I do think they are very pretty! I've been wanting to strip my hair just to see what color it is these days :o) I do my own nails and just rely on creams for wrinkles but have thought about trying something facial like the fillers or some such but probably never will. I should probably put in a bit more effort daily but sometimes it just seems like work. I'm like the pinterest cartoon…I hate wasting a great outfit on an insignificant day! lol  

  9.  I'm with Connie in that I plan to let Nature run her course. I don't pluck, dye, whiten or anything, although I did have braces when I was younger.  Never say never though; I think I would try Spanx if the occasion arose.  Oh, and I think the ad for the jiggly arm shapewear would be more convincing if worn by someone who sported actual jiggly arms!

  10. I have tried shape wear twice and lasted about 10 minutes each time. Last time, I managed to remove it in the car on the way to a wedding. I could barely sit in the horrid thing! I just don't get the lure. They are so uncomfortable and can't possibly be good for the wearer's organs and blood flow. 
    I do color my hair and have bleached my teeth before, though I stopped doing that because I would rather have yellowish healthy teeth than crumbling white teeth. But being physically uncomfortable/in pain in order to look a few pounds lighter is not for me. 

  11. Hmmm.  No, I don't think I would wear this shaper but I have been thinking more and more about corsets lately.  Not sure why.  

  12. Great discussion! I've bleached teeth, groom my eyebrows like a pet Bonsai tree, and shave the legs. I can't wear the shapers- too uncomfortable and hot for me, but I'm all for 'em if it makes one feel better about themselves. My bridge too far? Boob job. Wouldn't ever do it unless for medical reasons. And cheek implants, and weird butt fat to lips insertion. But again, for me. Other people- have fun and have at it. 

  13. Same as you constrictive underwear – I tried once – not anymore, not confortable at all and collagen in the lips – it never looks natural –

    Have a good weekend Patti

    Ariane xxxx

  14. I have one pair and only wear them for "dress up"  Otherwise it's suck it on or let it roll!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. For me it's all about personal circumstances. It's easy to say "I would NEVER get cosmetic surgery," because I am unemployed and my last pennies pretty much go to meals and mortgage payments. And it's easy to say "I would never wear compression garments," because between the 100-degree days and my hot flashes, I would be stewing in my own juices if I was squeezed into something like that.
    But given the opportunity/wealth/climate, I might change my tune. So I try not to make too many pronouncements that might come back and bite me (like if someone points out that I do color my hair).

  16. I'm ok with stockings and bras, and Spanx are fine (particularly since they smooth out the Visible Panty Line).  But anything else? No thanks.   And my beauty regimen doesn't include hair dye or styling, extreme plucking (or any waxing), etc..  It's got to be quick, easy and relatively natural and if it takes longer than 5-10min daily, it's out.

  17.  Can I just piggy back on to your comment because I feel the same way?  The only difference is that I have red hair which I will put some demi-permenant color in.  Hair dyed red always looks fake and there is no good way to really go about coloring it.  When I go natural, no one even realizes it. 

  18. Well, I do want to look my best….naturally! haha
    I confess, I do spend $ to color my gray.  I don't have the beautiful gray like some women do.I also bleach my teeth on occasion b/c I drink too much coffee and tea. 
    For now, this is it, but who know?  I would love to think that I would grow old gracefully and naturally, but I'll give myself the right to change my mind. I am a woman after all. 
    Great topic!  Happy weekend to you! 

  19. Thank for the mention Patti! I'm so pleased I inspired you. I'm all for growing old as naturally as possible – and as someone said on my Facebook page 'Worrying is the most ageing thing of all.'

  20. I just wear shapewear knickers because as Curtise said they improve the way clothes fit on me, that's about al, of course the cheaper supermarket brands..one thing I would never do is whiten my teeth, when they are too white they look fake, too shining white and then here in Italy many dentists refuse to do it because they think whitening damages tooth enamel 

  21. Great post, Patti. Personally I'd rather get up earlier and exercise for half-an-hour every day rather than cram myself into that monstrosity. I'm all for making the best of myself but if it involves huge discomfort then forget it. I rarely even bother with a bra. x

  22. That shape wear top looks particularly odd, cut around the boobs like that! I love my big shape wear knickers, they aren't Spanx but a much cheaper brand, and although they don't exactly hold much in, they smooth out the lines under tighter fitting dresses, which is what I use them for. I find them very comfortable, and no VPL!
    Yes I dye my hair, I don't feel ready to be grey. I wear make up, my boobs don't fare well without an underwire, and I sometimes wear heels that make my feet ache. That's about it though, nothing invasive or permanent, and they seem like harmless enough strategies. I often wonder if I would have work done if money and time were no object… Given that it is completely out of the question financially, it is easy to say never, but I don't know…
    Love seeing the Forth bridge disappearing into the fog, btw! xxxx

  23. Even before the hot flashes I would have found Spanx to be too hot – I don't do well with synthetics. I'm vain but not too fussy and I want to look natural, so I just kind of do the minimum. I quit dying my hair and was happy that the gray came in beautifully, and I actually get more compliments than before! The thing I probably will do is get some dark spots removed from my face.

  24. Dearest Patti,
    Like you described yourself; no need for compressing our body. But it is hilarious in a way. First they start enlarging their boobs and next they Spanx the entire REST of the body… Not a very healthy way, not great for the blood flow but at least, they try to sell one more illusion! Glad I can escape the SPANXING…
    Hugs to you,

  25. Patti: I like the natural look – no makeup, no spanx, no contact lenses, it's hard to dye black hair … I would love to be rid of my tummy bulge, but would never consider surgery.  But you know,  if someone does want to perfect herself via makeup, spanx, surgery etc that's okay too.

  26. Compression wear for arms? How about compression wear for long noses, for too-large ears, for one's neck (but not too tight!). Corsets for ankles anyone? Okay, how about compression wear for my big mouth! LOL.

  27. I can't believe that model is smiling wearing that.  I have to have comfort and that just looks miserable.

  28. If I can afford it ill probably do it! I don't wear spanx that often, but I have them for the moments that are appropriate. Now I'd say no to the arm spanx, but in the future? Never say never! I'm thinking about a facelift, I should get some dark spots removed, I dye my hair. Yes, to all of it. I want to be beautiful. I can't help myself.

  29. Well never say never but I plan to just let nature takes its couse. I actually love to see older women who are completely unaltered and dress their age with elegant scarves and sweet cardigan sweaters and lovely low heeled shoes. I took a continuing education class recently and there was a woman of a certain age in the class. Beautiful gray hair and red lip stick and antique earrings and plenty of well earned lines on her face. She was so gorgeous. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She made the younger girls in class look unfinished. If you're lucky enough to live a long life you should celebrate it and not hide it. No Spanx for me!

  30. I'm about at your level, Patti. I refuse to wear shapewear, and I'm even going to the point of unlined/wireless bras when I can. I haven't put the full financial investment into making the switch, but I'm replacing everything one at a time. It has caused a change in my 'shape' I think, but it feels more natural to me than sculpted mounds of foam board stuck to my chest. 

    I remember it started while watching Friends – I kept wondering when the circle-boob became standard because Monica and Rachel were the IT girls when I was young.I dye my hair, not because my own color isn't attractive, but it's way for me to express myself in a semi-permanent way. I can't stand a lot of pressure on my skin these days. Chronic pain has taken away high heels. I wear my belts a lot less, all my clothes have to have some give or fit juuust right. Some days I can't take the weight of a scarf or necklace around my neck. But I try to find ways to indulge in what can make me look better and feel better.I spend a lot more money on healthier food options these days than I used to. Instead of buying make-up or alcohol, I buy socks and foods from the frou-frou section of the grocery store. Considering my sheer terror of ever needing to go to the hospital, you'll never see me with elective cosmetic surgery (without a major disaster). 

  31. I've had my teeth whitened too, but have had braces on for nearly two years so once they come off my smile is going to be in dire need of whitening again.  I stopped having my nails done professionally since that was something I can do myself, not quite as well… but it works for me.  If I thought I could spend thousands of dollars I would have an eye lift surgery because I have such heavy bags beneath my eyes.  I would never do lyposuction anywhere on my body… I think eating properly and exercise should be the way to handle the shape of my body.  I get my hair hilited but have started going to a lesser expensive salon.  Wore Spanx one time… not even sure what the occasion was though.  Compression garments make me sweat!

  32. I think, and my husband totally agrees, that a women with a bit of jiggle is a lot more sexy than one without. I hate that stuffed sausage look and it is so dang uncomfortable. I have lumps and bumps. Not many at my age don't but be danged if I am going to stuff my muffin unecessarily. As they say in New Hampshire, "Live Free or Die". 

  33. Great topic, Patti!  So thought-provoking.  I cross all of the same bridges as you, and perhaps I SHOULD try the compression garments.  I've gained quite a bit of weight in the last few years, and I hate that I can't fit into a lot of clothes that I like.  But I tried some compression garments once, and HATED them.  They were so uncomfortable.  I haven't tried Spanx yet, and I've heard they're more comfortable than others.  For now, though, I just keep hoping that I can lose the weight.

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