body image outfits summer

on being body positive and wearing spanx

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shirt: Old Navy // skirt: c/o ModCloth // espadrilles: Soludos c/o Shopbop // purse: Forever 21
As you might expect, this is a post I’ve waffled on writing for some time now. Deciding to call myself a body positive blogger put me in an interesting position because the buzzword can mean something a little different to everyone. Am I body positive if I don’t always love what I see in the mirror? Am I body positive if I dress to accentuate my favorite parts rather than my less-than-favorites? Am I body positive if I sometimes slip into shapewear before I put on the rest of my clothes?
After gradually gaining weight for the last few years (read about my eating disorder recovery here), this is the first summer I’ve had to deal with the dreaded chub rub in a real way. It’s no secret that I have an affinity for skirts and dresses, and I started this season feeling helpless to the summer heat rubbing between my thighs. A new-to-me style dilemma, but one that many women have faced since the beginning of time. I set out to find a solution. I started researching shorts to wear beneath my favorite dresses and skirts. Something that wouldn’t ride up, something that would provide coverage for my soft thighs and maybe for my soft tummy too. I read reviews of Jockey Skimmies, Bandelettes, and more. I ended up at Nordstrom and walked right up to the Spanx and I found my solution: Thinstincts Mid Thigh Shorts. This post isn’t sponsored by Spanx, so I’m not going to spend too much time selling them to you, but they make me feel like my thighs are made of air and I legitimately forget I’m wearing them. Plus, they have “targeted” tummy “control” that smooths what I sometimes wish looked smoother. Can I be body positive and wear targeted smoothing technology? 

Immediately, I started wearing every skirt I own every day of the week. I got excited to get dressed again. I put together some of my favorite outfits of all time, and I loved how they looked on me, not just in theory. Am I body positive because I didn’t let my body keep me from wearing what I wanted?

Of all the weights and pants sizes I’ve gone through in the past few years, I can confidently say that I’m happiest in my current body. Sure, it’s the most I’ve weighed and the highest number on a tag I’ve worn, but I don’t spend the time I used to picking apart my body for what it wasn’t. I’ve happily accepted the body I’m in. Now I get to focus on the fun of dressing it.

Wearing Spanx doesn’t make me not a size 10. I think that’s an important point here. I’m not wearing them to look a different size, or to take up less space. I’m wearing them to feel more comfortable — physically, because chub rub is real y’all! — and to take the focus actually off of my body. Not having to feel the burning of my thighs rubbing during my lunch break walks means I have more capacity to feel all the other things I experience: twirling in my pretty skirt, enjoying the trees and sunshine, having uninterrupted conversations with my friends.

I’m body positive, I wear Spanx, and I’m a happier me since deciding on both.

What are your thoughts on shapewear and body positivity?

To reiterate: this post is not sponsored by Spanx and all opinions are, always, my own!
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  • Cat

    i love your blonde blonde hair! it looks so pretty on you!

    i don’t think shapewear and body postivitely are mutually exclusive – tbh sometimes i just like feeling “held in,” regardless of what it does for my body shape. I hiiiiiighly recommend you check out these:

    i have spanx too but but the summer these uniqlo shorts are my fave! they have another similar style that comes in cute colors, but i haven’t tried it.

  • Ariel

    i have shapewear and love my body. i’m finally getting comfortable in my skin after dealing with body dismorphia for a long time. sometimes id like to look a little smoother or want to wear something tight and dont want to deal with chub rub (hi thick thighs).

    im adding these spanx to my list though because ive been looking for something similar to this. a lot of shorts i find are not hi rise and make the tummy situation worse lol.

    • Yes! Thank you! It’s like, I love my body, but clothes are sometimes not made for it, so I have to use workarounds to be able to wear what I want. Also, I will never understand non-hi rise anything because it cuts in such a weird place, especially shapewear.

  • Anna Wagner

    Totally get this. I wear “Thigh Society” shorts under all of my dresses. They’re not exactly shapewear, but they do have a slight effect. Before finding them, I liked the thought of dresses but felt limited and didn’t actually wear them much. Now I feel like my options are so open.

    • Ooh, looking into Thigh Society for sure! I was initially just looking for something to protect my thighs, so that might be a good option to have around too!

  • I think wearing shapewear can fit under the same category as wearing makeup; I love my face with and without makeup, but I *enjoy* wearing makeup. It’s part of my style! It may be seen as covering up things I hate about myself, but that’s not why I wear shapewear or makeup. Hence, I think you can totally be body positive and wear shapewear–and rock it!

  • OMG girl I am so here for this! I have struggled with the same thing. There’s so much scrutiny on what it means to be body positive, and if you are being the “right” kind of body positive. Personally, I don’t think there is a “right” way to be body positive. It means finding ways to be positive about your body…… even when there are parts you feel less than positive about. I wear Spanx with a lot of my dresses with no shame. As for chub rub…… Dove deodorant on my thighs has been my saving grace! I get hot really easily, so shorts were a little too much for me. But either deodorant or Gold Bond anti-chafing stick works perfectly. Keep doing you girl; because you are absolutely amazing!!!

  • Colleen Wilshire

    “Wearing Spanx doesn’t make me not a size 10. I think that’s an important point here. I’m not wearing them to look a different size, or to take up less space. I’m wearing them to feel more comfortable — physically, because chub rub is real y’all! — and to take the focus actually off of my body.” YES. You do what makes you feel good and confident and comfortable. It’s the same reason I like to leave my apartment wearing a bit of makeup. It makes me excited about the day, and if it makes you feel even a bit better and happier, i fully support it.

    I really believe you can love yourself as is, but also love it with spanx on or a bit of concealer and mascara. It’s not mutually exclusive.

    I love you especially for this post. You are brave. You are wonderful, and I stand with you. Spanx and all. <3333333333333333

  • I love this post so much! Thank you for sharing your story and for talking about body positivity in a very REAL way. <3

  • Whitney H

    This is amazing, Nicole. I’m also at my heaviest I’ve ever been. I’d say 70% of the time I’m okay with what I see in the mirror (still working on that…) I wear Spanx because they keep the questions away (“omg are you pregnant?” no i’m not, thanks) and help smooth things down. You are amazing and I love love love reading your thoughts on this. <3 You are gorgeous inside and out.

  • I love this post so much! It’s really inspiring to hear honesty in a space like this. Chub rub IS a real thing! When I lived in the south, I swore by my spanx – for all the same reasons you pointed out.

  • I love when fellow bloggers are transparent and speak up on issues that everyone struggles with. It’s so important that we do the things we do with our clothing, makeup, etc. to make ourselves feel like the real “us” and in that skin we can be comfortable and confident (no matter what other people say)! I have to say Nicole, that the greatest part about you is your contagious and joyful smile! You always brighten my day with each post because I know you will be full of smiles and that livens up life:)

  • Antonia

    This post makes me so, so happy. I’ve really wanted to have this conversation for a while, and I’m so glad you started something! I was recently in a store for underthings, and the sales person mentioned that they didn’t sell shapewear for “feminist reasons.” On one hand, I respect that and the statement they’re making, but on the other hand, what if I want to wear shapewear to make what I’m wearing look better, feel better, and make me more confident wearing it? I feel like there’s a line between wearing something to “fix” my body, or wearing something that honestly helps me stop negatively fixating on my body. And in the end, if it’s not comfortable, it’s out of my life.

  • Jen

    Girl, yes! Yes to all the questions. I think shapewear becomes anti-body positive when a) you live in it and try to pass the way you look in it as your ~real~ body, b) you feel like you NEED to wear it in order to “get away” with wearing something or for existing in your body or c) (which is really all of these combined) when you cannot love yourself/think you’re beautiful without them. Comfort and putting your best foot forward need not apply! I think another commenter also mentioned this, but anti-chafe sticks are great, or deodorant or coconut oil work in a pinch, if you ever need it for something where shorts don’t work. Thanks for writing about this!

  • Caitlin

    Ooooh, I’m hoping those go Spanx go on sale eventually…

    Man, I wouldn’t wear shorts or skirts in high school unless I absolutely had to because I hated my legs and how they looked and felt, skin-on-sweaty-skin. Let me tell you – jeans in 95F+ Virginia humidity was a special kind of torture. Then I moved to bermuda-length shorts, then I was able to wear skirts with tights, and now with the help of deodorant/anti-chafe/bike shorts, and inseams (4″ for shorts – love the Karaoke Songstress ones from ModCloth!) that cover my main point of thigh contact, I’m able to wear shorts, skirts, and dresses and finally feel comfortable.

    I had a good friend (who rarely makes these kind of statements, so!) who I hadn’t seen for a while comment that she couldn’t tell if I had lost or gained weight, but I /carried/ myself more confidently so it made my overall appearance better. I had believed exactly none of that “~confidence is attractive~” BS that I’d heard until she said that… and I was admittedly in a much happier (and maybe 10lbs heavier…) place than I had been since the last time I’d seen her in person…

    I didn’t intend to write an essay but oops! What I’m getting at is: I totally agree, body positivity is directly related to confidence, and if wearing spanx (especially to help with chub rub!) makes you feel more confident, go for it!! I love seeing what you wear and you seem really happy in your photos, and it makes me happy to know that you’re comfortable and content.

  • betheakman

    Here’s an interesting bit of history to consider. When women began to reject girdles in the 1960s, the physical ideal quickly shifted from the curvy, “wasp-waisted” woman to the prepubescent waif; think Twiggy. Feminist scholars are pretty much unanimous in their interpretation of this phenomenon as being an adaptive way for women to prevent exposure, specifically of curves and jiggling. If we can’t pack ’em in, we’ll starve ’em off. While eating disorders have been around as long as eating, they really boomed in the US in response to the 60s+ waifish ideal.

    There’s not a right way to be a feminist. In fact, what feminism has fought for is individual choice. I absolutely LOVE about your generation of feminists that you have terms like “chub rub.” And SOLUTIONS for it. Brilliant. Carry on.

  • This post is fantastic! Yes, you can 100% be body positive and not always in love with your body. I feel like everyone should be happy in their body no matter what size, but I sometimes groan at what I see in the mirror. I don’t think they have to be separate at all.

    I just got the Bandalettes and I really like them! I do wish the band wasn’t so thick because I can’t wear it with really short skirts and dresses or the lace will show.

    I’m so glad you’re feeling better about your body now that you have Spanx. Whatever makes you feel good!! 🙂

  • I love that your angle here is just being more confident in the body you have, and enjoying wearing your current clothing more. Nothing you described about shapewear is in any way shameful- and it shouldn’t be! Go girl!!

    ♥ perfectly Priya