by Kyla

I have not bought/worn/owned/tried on a dress since I was about 12 years old.

I am now 37.

You do the math. In the intervening years, I have gone to weddings, to funerals, to parties, to fancy and expensive dinners with fancy and expensive people. I have even gone to my own wedding. Never in any of that time did I even consider wearing a dress. (I did not wear a dress to my own wedding. I did, however, wear black. I am now divorced. Coincidence? I leave it to you to decide.)

However, as part of my campaign to do my father’s bidding, I bought a dress. After all those years, it was delightful to discover a dress that I both actually liked and actually liked wearing. I strode out of the dressing room like a ship in full sail.

Hmm, said my friend Twila, who had dragged me out on this little expedition. Not bad. But… do you have a girdle? she asked, as though this was the sort of thing I would own. And should own.

Er, no, I said. People still wear those?

Twila gave me a look. It was a look that said, I can’t speak for people but I can definitely speak for you, and yes, you should wear one.

After buying the dress, then, we boldly headed over to the underwear store.

Hi, I said. I just got a dress so, I guess, I’m looking for something in … whale bone. I paused and fluttered my hands. You know, maybe and one of those guys who stands behinds you and rips on the ties to synch it up… Me and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

They grinned at me. Apparently whale bone is out (who knew?) but they handed me some sort of body stocking and a shoe horn. I spent several hours in the dressing room, weeping softly, as I struggled into this … thing … designed to mask the fact that I have wobbly bits and, apparently, also designed to make sure I never again take a deep breath.

I imagined getting stuck in there; the ambulance attendants arriving; the profound lycra humiliation.

Eventually I got it on. The point of this underwear, undoubtedly, is to increase one’s chances of, um, getting it on (hem hem), but as I wiggled my dress on over top in order to see the finished product, I realized that I would never, ever, ever, ever be able to take this … thing … off again. I imagined this in a romantic moment.

Er, I would say, dimming lights frantically, just … um… a … second …

I would disappear into the bathroom with what I hoped was a seductive smile; I would proceed to spend the next two hours trying to wiggle out of an undergarment as secure as a chastity belt. By the time I was free, exhausted, bruised, and tear-stained, the prize in question would have left the house ages ago, propping up a note on the kitchen table. It’s not you, it’s me the note would read. No… wait.. it’s not me, it’s you. Complete with musical accompaniment.

So while I now stand so straight I appear four inches taller than I normally do, the very act of having to slather my entire body in vegetable oil in order to put on my underwear seems to ensure that whatever benefit I might expect from such an apparatus is mitigated by the practicalities of dressing in it.