Fear Not the Jiggle


I wear shapewear. Not often, but I do. I’ve got a few clingy, slinky, jersey-knit dresses that show every crinkle and dimple in my backside, and I just feel more confident wearing them after I’ve shoehorned myself into … well, let’s just call a spade a spade … my girdle.

I wear compression-based fitness clothes. I don’t actively seek them out, but my preferred brands just include that feature for most of their pants. And some tops. And mostly it just makes me feel like I’m wearing extremely tight stuff when I exercise, but it also adds a bit of welcome firmness.

I wear bras. And yeah, I know that bras are essentially a social must for many women, but here’s the thing: My boobs don’t drape. If you try that whole “tuck a pencil under ’em” test on me, my boobs and I will LAUGH at you as the pencil plummets to the floor. If I didn’t have perpetually perky nipples, I could probably go braless and no one would be the wiser. But I like the girls to feel secure and supported. (Those are the lingerie-industry-sanctioned terms, right?)

In my opinion, looking good is essentially useless if you don’t feel good, too. If you go through the motions of getting gussied, but you feel uncomfortable or anxious or fraudulent, you’ll never look as smashing as you would if you felt comfortable, confident, and like a gloriously gussied version of yourself. And the fact is that shape wear and compression and lingerie can help make an otherwise panic-inducing dress feel natural. Gorgeous, even.

The dark side of these items is that they teach us to fear and loathe The Jiggle. There is a big, powerful, money-making industry out there based on Jiggle Fear. It gives us products that eliminate “back fat.” It gives us creams that supposedly alleviate the appearance of cellulite. It gives us Control Top Pantyhose. There are so many products out there designed to keep The Jiggle to a minimum and so many messages about how The Jiggle is shameful, disgraceful, awful.

But friends, humans jiggle. And, generally speaking, women jiggle more than men. Our anatomy has several features that are delightfully, naturally jiggly, and there’s no denying it. But regardless of sex, gender, and anatomy, we are not carved from marble, we are not made entirely from hard muscle and taut sinew, we are not meant to appear as still photographs of ourselves when we are in motion. And, perhaps most importantly, we are not all lithe teenagers and we are not all slender. Jiggle Fear is tied directly to Age Fear and Fat Fear, both of which are extremely effective tools for oppressing women, instilling the belief that diversity is undesirable and bodies should all be exactly the same.

So what do we do? Do we embrace The Jiggle with open arms, and wear our clingy, slinky, jersey-knit dresses sans shape wear even if it makes us feel afraid and miserable? Do we accept Jiggle Fear as relatively harmless and keep our personal jiggle perpetually in check? I don’t think there’s a single, sweeping answer that can be applied to every person and ever situation. I honestly don’t. Again, you must feel confident and fabulous in your clothes, and if some Jiggle mitigation furthers that goal, I can understand that. Each person must deal with The Jiggle one situation at a time, and own that process.

But the next time a new product is developed to quash The Jiggle, the next time you see your own Jiggle and feel anxiety or loathing, the next time you overhear someone kvetching about “bingo wings” or “fat rolls,” just remember: Humans jiggle. Natural, normal, nothing to be ashamed of.

This is a refreshed and revived post from the archive
Image courtesy (who else?) Spanx

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5 Responses to “Fear Not the Jiggle”

  1. Psals

    I love this post! I am so conscious of my jiggle when I wear slinky dresses; even when I wear shapewear, I can imagine everything under it trying to jiggle. Oy!

  2. janejetson

    I jiggle in the tummy but find those high wasted girdles as you call them uncomfortable. They roll down and I have to hike them up. I might do it if they stayed in place. I don’t get dressed up or wear slinky stuff. I have compromised by wearing clothes I like that do not need shape wear. To each her own on this. As a 36G, I wouldn’t feel comfortable without a bra.

  3. mmm

    She didn’t say “… but my boobs are perky and wonderful!” She said her nipples are perky, meaning that they are visible if she decides to go braless. I’ve been reading Sally’s blog for years, and she’s not the humblebragging type.

  4. mmm

    I don’t know. Some types of jiggle are less comfortable than others. Like you, I have small boobs, but I find it uncomfortable and sometimes painful to go braless. My bras actually allows me a wider range of motion like skipping, jumping and making sudden movements. On the other hand, after years of feeling self-conscious about my tummy, I’m finally comfortable with wearing fitted stretchy tops. Stand-up comic Adam Hill has a show where he talks about “tummy-drumming” (i.e. drumming your tummy with your hands) as an expression of joy and contentment. When I saw that a couple of years ago, I realized how much joy my jiggly belly gave me, and I gradually learned to acknowledge that joy.