Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I dreamed I was 10 pounds–not just 38 bucks - lighter in my Maidenform undies

I am a member of the last generation that wore something called a girdle.

No matter how slender, by their early teen years, girls of my era – at least good Catholic girls, and what other kind are there? – wore panty girdles when they “dressed up” for church, a school function, a date. (Not that I had many of those…) To not wear a girdle was immodest, a near occasion of sin, and was to invite leering, pinching, and worse from the wolves just hanging around street corners waiting to leer, pinch, and worse at girdle-less girls sauntering by.

While our mothers kept on wearing them – when my mother, in her later years, went on European bus jaunts, she packed a girdle and bra for every day of the trip – most of us peeled off the girdle somewhere around the end of high school/beginning of college.

Many of us then went on to enjoy a few girdle-less (and sometimes braless) years before we realized that our tops, if not our bottoms, could use a bit of control. And thus we pulled on “control top panty hose.”

Somewhere along the line, cellulite reared its ugly head, and all us girls in our twenties started examining our thighs looking for those nasty little lumps of fat.

The cure at one point was scrubbing the offensive cellulite away with a loofah, with or without a special cream.

Any concerns I had about cellulite faded before I managed to loofah it away. I haven’t checked lately. I assume it’s still there. (The cellulite, not the loofah.)

Meanwhile, on the rare occasions when I’m wearing a skirt or a dress, I’m sticking with control top panty hose, thank you.

But there’s a new generation of young women out there for whom control top panty hose aren’t the answer, perhaps because women under the age of 40 don’t wear panty hose. So they’re making the founder of Spanx a ka-billionaire, and, looking for the cure, are also buying up:

…undergarments infused with capsules of caffeine and vitamins. (Source: Boston Globe)

Alas, these undergarments allegedly:

…failed to live up to claims that they would melt away fat.

Which has prompted two local women to sue the bastards:

Annique Bellot of Newton and Tara Stefani of Hingham filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in US District Court in Boston this week against Maidenform Brands LLC and Wacoal America Inc., joining other women who have recently brought cases against the companies for allegedly misrepresenting the garments’ powers.

The Massachusetts suit states that the slimming shapewear, constructed with microcapsules containing caffeine, Vitamin E, fatty acids, and other ingredients that are absorbed by the skin, is marketed as a way to “permanently change women’s body shape and skin tone.” The products cost 50 to 60 percent more than identical garments that do not have the microcapsules, according to the suit.

Maidenform’s contribution to hope for womankind is the $38 Flexee Instant Slimmer, while Wacoal has brought out the $60 iPant.

The iPant – stunningly ridiculous name, no? – is advertised as “anti-cellulite”, and promises to produce “lasting results” if you’re willing to keep it on eight hours a day, seven days a week for four weeks.

“It’s very unfortunate that there are companies out there that are preying on people’s insecurities with claims that may not be supportable by science,” said Newton lawyer Mathew Pawa, who is representing the plaintiffs.

Well, yes, it is “unfortunate that there are companies out there that are preying on people’s insecurities”. And it is equally, perhaps even more, unfortunate that there are people gullible enough to fall for crazy anti-fat, anti-aging, anti-sagging, anti-whatever claims, and underwear seems to be the least of the worries here.

Nutrient-infused textiles are a $600 million annual business, according to the Massachusetts lawsuit. The plaintiffs are seeking refunds and punitive damages, as well as an injunction that would keep the companies from selling the apparel.

Nutrient-infused textiles? Hmmmm.  One would think that piranha-infused textiles might do a better job.

Personally, I don’t see why the two plaintiffs didn’t just go to Macy’s and get their money back, write a complaint letter to Wacoal and/or Maidenform, and then get on social media and trash the products. Isn’t this what social media’s for?

But all that gets you is your refund, not “punitive damages”. And gee, having worn the nutrient-infused girdles for 28 days straight, the duo may feel that they are deserving of “punitive damages.”

Pawa’s co-counsel on the case, Tim Howard, a Tallahassee lawyer and president of Cambridge Graduate University , filed a similar suit against Maidenform and Wacoal in Florida in December.

Telling women you can lose weight “by putting coffee and whatever else you put in the fabric of underwear” is “absurd and extraordinarily crass,” [co-counsel for the suit Tim] Howard said. There are probably tens of thousands of women who have purchased this type of shapewear, he said.

Come on!  If every claim that’s absurd and/or extraordinarily crass leads to court, we’ll have backlogs that will stretch to infinity and beyond.

But some people just want their (pay) day in court.*

Do I have to ask whatever happened to a) caveat emptor; b) if something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Want to slim that tummy, those thighs? Not that I’m taking my own advice here, but I do believe eating less and exercising more should work.


*Tara Stefani does seem to be one of them.

She’s not only a plaintiff in this suit, she’s signed on for another class action. In the other one, Ms. Stefani is going after a company called 23andMe that makes a DNA saliva kit and analysis service that the suit claims is based on specious science.(Source: Universal Hub.)

Apparently, she’s a sucker for bad science. Either that, or she’s doing us all a great service by uncovering all these shady products.

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