Letting it all hang out…

woman in black tube top

Are you watching your weight? I am. I’m looking at it right now, bulging out there in front of me – a little tootsie roll of tummy overlapping my jeans. All that festive feasting means that I’ll soon be able to apply for my plumber’s license. And it’s not just the Christmas kilos we’re having to deal with but also all that lockdown weight. After two years of lying about noshing on nachos and mainlining mars bars, my stretch pants now have stretch marks.

But rather than swap tim tams for tofu, perhaps we could simply strap on a corset? The success of blockbuster TV series Bridgerton, The Favourite and The Great has rekindled an interest in corsetry. Red carpets are currently chocker block with the cinched in waists and heaving bosoms created by lingerie-style stays. Jennifer Lopez wore a nude corset wedding dress by Dolce and Gabbana at the American Music Awards. Adele donned a corset by Vivienne Westwood on the cover of Vogue. Even Billy Eilish swapped her regulation teen hoodie for a neon pink Alexander McQueen bustier. After Dua Lipa wore a corset in the video of her song Demeanor, the corset hashtag racked up over 2.4 billion views on TikTok .

To be honest, I’ve always had a bit of bust lust. Haven’t you ever longed to have breasts which arrive about five minutes before you do? Also keen to camouflage those excess kilos, I ventured into a lingerie department with my sister, Liz. While I held the red satin bodice over my chest, Liz tugged at the strings at the back. For extra leverage, she wedged one foot onto my posterior enabling her to yank even harder.

“I feel like Scarlett O’Hara as Mamma laced her up in Gone with the Wind,” I told her.

“Hold on an’ suck in, y’all,” Liz said in her best Southern drawl. She tugged at those strings so tightly my neck got thicker. She didn’t stop until my breasts were cantilevered skyward by the rib-crushing corsetry. But glancing into the mirror, I didn’t resemble Mae West. It just looked as though I had grown a couple of spare double chins.

I tried to share this observation, but found I was gasping for air like a stranded goldfish. Even worse, a rogue bone was digging into my bottom; which is not a sentence I ever thought I’d write. I also felt a loss of blood flow to my brain. A woozy sensation came over me. I clutched my sister’s arm, fearing a fainting fit like a Victorian damsel about to be tied to a railroad track.

“Help!” I wheezed, asthmatically. Except no sound came out. All I could do was mime frantically that my air supply was being cut off. This is what it must feel like to have a heart attack during a game of charades. When my sister finally got the message and released the strings, I whooshed about the change room like a punctured party balloon.

Yes the corset gave me an hourglass figure – but that hourglass turned back time. As I lay in a whimpering, panting heap, all I could think is – did Emily Pankhurst really tie herself to the railings for this?

Boosting, lifting, hoisting and hoiking are not verbs we’ve needed through the pandemic. During lockdown, lingerie companies report that over 60 percent of women switched to non-wired bras or simply let their boobs swing free.

So, why now contort ourselves into these agonising contraptions? None of my male friends worry about their paunches. For blokes, a beer belly is nothing more than a ‘veranda over the toy shop’. Most men I know look as though they’re mid-way through their third trimester of pregnancy, yet it’s only women who get saddled with the dreaded “muffin top” moniker and are forced to squeeze into Spanx or corsets until our internal organs run up a white flag of surrender.

A designer has just invented a men’s corset to create that coveted ice-cream-shaped torso, pushing out shoulders and nipping in waists. But I doubt this look will catch on. When it comes to fashion, men just don’t self-harm the way women do. Blokes would never totter around in toe-squashing stilettos or brave wintery nights in backless, strapless sheaths. I doubt any teenage boy ever lay down on his bedroom carpet as his mates yanked up the zipper of his skin tight jeans with a coat hanger, often performing an impromptu appendectomy on route.

So, girls, until fellas start strapping on the corsets, why don’t we just let it all hang out?

Of course, the best way to lose weight is exercise. And laughing is very aerobic. With your health in mind, may I recommend my latest novel, “Till Death – or a little light maiming – Do Us Part.

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