For the last 50 years spandex has been a part of our lives. Since its debut in 1959 spandex has been used in everything from underwear to workout gear, and what was once only found in a small segment of clothing items is now present in 80 percent of the clothing Americans buy and according to a recent NPR article the rise in spandex is America’s problem.
When spandex came on the scene our country was a lot smaller and obesity was not the buzz word of the day. However thanks to a drop in price over the last decade and the fact that adding just a touch of spandex to clothing can change the fit and shape, spandex has become an enabler in the war against obesity. By giving clothing that a person of certain sizes wouldn’t normally be able to wear just a bit of stretch, spandex has allowed people to forgive those pesky extra 20 pounds because with a little spandex they can now fit almost anything no matter their size.
In the article NPR goes to a suburban Maryland mall and asks several women (and no men) whether spandex is a “do” or a “don’t.” Their dress sizes are included with their answers, and the responses they received were similar to this one from Brett Godwin, who’s a size 4:
“I think that spandex is made to accommodate people who are overweight. I’ve seen some terrible sights. They are overweight, and they would put on the tightest spandex things they can find, and they just look absolutely awful.”
Even Martha Paschal, a woman who admits to being happy when she was able to finally wear a pencil skirt for the first time thanks to the wonders of our stretchy enemy, feels that the inclusion of spandex in clothing can be a bit deceptive, “It’s dishonest. It lets you get away with wearing things that you probably shouldn’t just because it expands to fit. I think it is deceptive.”
But is spandex really the enemy? Is including material that allows all people, regardless of shape or size, to feel beautiful in their clothing really the evil fat enabler NPR is making it out to be, or are we just finding another scapegoat for all of the other contributing factors that aren’t so easy to fix. Factors like government approval of ingredients and chemicals that are known to be unhealthy, lack of affordable groceries in fresh produce in urban areas, cut backs on physical education programs in schools, lack of knowledge about nutritional heath, and the list goes on. While spandex may be a culprit in our obesity, it is by no means what is causing Americans to gain weight at an astounding rate and before we start encouraging people to start spandex bonfires, we should try focusing more on the bigger issues.
Sound-off: What do you think, is spandex making America fat?