The Sabbath Meal
I Am Learning
The Ice Cream Cone
The Girdle, a Womanís Best Friend
My Own True Voice

The Girdle, a Womanís Best Friend

My mother always wanted me to be thin and beautiful. She taught me a great deal about how to accomplish this. There were many rules and regulations to be followed to achieve this goal. I was taught at a very young age that managing money correctly was also essential. I was trained to be thrifty, to save money, and to buy only things that were on sale. But there was one area of our lives as women where money was no object.

"You never try to save money on a girdle," my mother taught me. "Your girdle is your best friend. Always buy the best." I will always remember our shopping trips to Sears. We went to that particular department store because they not only sold the best Playtex rubber girdle in town, but they had a professional woman to fit you and make sure that you bought the correct size. It was of little value to have an excellent girdle if the fit was not right. My mother and I would usually hold hands as we walked into that special womenís department in the back of the store. She would rush in to find the saleswoman who really knew all about the fitting of girdles and say, a little too loudly for my adolescent ears, "I want my daughter to have the best Playtex rubber girdle. I donít care how much it costs. And I want you to find a really firm longline bra for her to wear with it."

My mom and I waited in the dressing room for the saleslady to come in. I felt really embarrassed about taking off my clothes in front of this strange woman. But she was a professional, like a doctor. There were a lot of years that I mildly protested, but always gave in at the end, because my mother had my own good in mind. It was always a struggle to pull the girdles up. Apparently the correct fit meant a moderate amount of difficulty pulling the girdle up over my hips, but when it was in place, I could look in the mirror and see a significant difference in my form.

The correct fit seemed to be as tight as I could tolerate it, and still be able to breathe. There was always fat that got pushed up and hung over the girdle, but there was a ready solution to that as well. The longline bra with the stiff bones compressed the fat hanging over the stomach. Of course, there was a limit to this miracle makeover, and there always appeared to be some excess fat hanging over the top of the longline bra in the back, but that part had limited visibility to others, so it didnít matter.

Pulling off the rubber girdle was always difficult. I would sweat profusely in the hot little dressing room, and the girdle would stick to me. My mom carried a little bottle of Johnsonís baby powder in her purse at all times. She taught me that if I powdered myself first, the girdle would go up easier. She was right. The powder was also good to cover up the red marks that the bones of the corset left on my young, sensitive skin.

My mother and I always left Sears with a few bags filled with perfectly fitting bras and girdles. I wore them all the time, except when sleeping at night. My mother taught me that a lady never leaves the house without a good fitting girdle. She trained me to put the girdle on as soon as I got up in the morning. One never knew if a friend or traveling salesman might knock on the door and come into the house. "No one should see a woman without her girdle on," my mother told me countless times. If we were out somewhere and my mother saw the behind of a woman looking girdle-less, she would never hesitate to point out to me the "looseness" of that woman. She would call her names and make deprecating remarks about the way this woman cared for her body. A woman without a girdle was like a woman walking around naked in public.

I didnít have many dates as a teenager, but occasionally a boy would ask me out to the movies. I always took advantage of every opportunity I had to go on a date, although there was a special problem that I had when I did so. Luckily, my mother had a solution to this all figured out and taught me how to deal with this problem. When I sat for an extended period of time in a movie theater, the tightness of the girdle, in conjunction with the tightness of the longline bra, seemed to compress my abdomen to such an extent that I would get excruciating stomach pains. There would be a huge build-up of gas that could not escape. The optimal solution to this problem was a cup of hot tea followed by lying down on my stomach, which allowed the gas to escape, due to the straightening out of my body. The length of time in the seated position necessary to watch a whole movie was far too long for normal expulsion of the gas pockets. Of course, there was no hot tea to drink in the movie theater, but I was able to go to the bathroom and lie down on the floor three or four times during the movie.

My mother told me that wherever I went, there would always be a womenís bathroom to go to where I could lie down on the floor face down. This has always proven to be true. My mother taught me many lessons on how to be thin and beautiful. I have much to thank her for today.

ē Maxine, 50 ē


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