The Seat of Power: Spanx, Underoos and Conflation of Body
Confidence with Self Confidence
When my nephew was about 5, he decided to wear his new
Spider Man Underoos over his shorts to the shopping mall. He felt it was
important to have the clothing on hand “just in case” he was urgently needed,
at the ready like his favorite superhero, to rescue us all from imminent danger.
Or at least the harms that might be lurking at the Dillard’s in west Texas. My
nephew believed deeply in the potential that his special clothing would provide
magic powers, as Peter Parker’s suit offers when he is need as Spider Man. His parents
disagreed, however the fact that they would not permit him to wear his special
new underwear over his clothes to the mall was only as a minor setback for the
determined Pre-K hero. With the compromise that he could wear them under his clothes, he embarked on the
family outing fully empowered just knowing his costume was on hand. I recently
reminded him of this particular outing, and his careful preparations. A decade
later, this bashful but poised teenager laughed, and said he thought it was probably
his brother who did tried to sport
Spider Man briefs to Dillard’s, and I was mistaken.
My question today, is about the errors we make in feeling
powerful because of what we wear, specifically, what we may use to disguise our
true selves in order to feel confident and – dare I say – empowered. While my
beloved nephew felt a sense of empowerment because he believed superhero
underwear would provide real super powers, we adults are not always so
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.