Monday, March 30, 2020

Outhouses and Playtex girdles

Sometimes when I think of a subject I want to talk about on my blog, I will write a word or two down so I don't forget my thought.  While Cliff and I were sitting on the couch talking this morning, I brought up the subject of girdles, and in the process of telling a story, I told him, "I'm going to make a note and talk about that in my blog."

I got up, found a notebook, and said out loud as I wrote, "Girdles and outhouses".  

Cliff laughed and said, "Boy, that's some title!"

Here's how our line of talk went:  Cliff mentioned waiting for the school bus as a kid, saying the girls really had it rough back then because they had to wear dresses and skirts to school, even on the coldest days  The school dress code required it.  We talked about the dress codes they had when I graduated in 1962 and I complained that the very next year (too late for me) the rules got loosened up a lot, so the girls could wear miniskirts and jeans.  I never had a desire to wear a miniskirt; at that point I'd never even worn shorts, except for those ugly blue uniforms we wore for P.E.

Somehow our discussion led to girdles, namely those old Playtex Living girdles from the 50's.  My mom wore those awful things to church, and even to work in a factory that I know wasn't air conditioned; as soon as she got home, she would roll that thing down from the top and take it off.  You'd have to have seen those girdles to know what I'm talking about; they were made of rubber, I think, or else some kind of stretchy plastic that seemed like rubber.  Now imagine what it would feel like to have a tight band of plastic encasing the lower part of your body in 100 degree temperatures!  I remember how each morning my mom would generously powder her belly and back anywhere that plastic girdle would be touching, before she left for work, and how sweaty she was when she took it off at night.  And I ask myself why any woman would torture herself like that.

I told Cliff about a memory I conjured up, probably from 1953 or 1954:  My parents drove to some country church where Brother Campbell was holding a Gospel meeting... that's what Church of Christ folks called a revival back then.  I thought the old preacher was awfully boring, but the adults loved him.  Aunt Ruby went with us.  She, Mother, and I went to the three-hole outhouse and we all sat down to pee together... it used to be no big deal for two or three girls or women to use the toilet at once... except my mom and my aunt had to get their Playtex girdles down first.  Women couldn't just wiggle out of those things, or pull them down like panties, because plastic (or rubber) sticks to your skin.  So they'd start rolling them down at the waist and keep rolling until... well, I guess until they could pull the whole girdle down far enough to "go".  I recall as Aunt Ruby settled into her position, she groaned that her legs had been aching all day.  

That's all I remember of that moment.  But here's what I don't understand:  What on earth would make a woman go through all that discomfort?  I know we all want a flat stomach, but if I remember right, those girdles flattened a woman's butt more than they did her stomach.

Thank goodness I've never worn a girdle; I don't think I could stand it.

On another note, all the coronavirus news must be affecting me, because I am grumpy.  I feel ready to snap.  This is exactly the way I used to feel when it was time for "Aunt Flo" to visit and I do not like it.  The thing is, we don't know how this is all goin to end, not exactly.  We don't know who the pandemic will affect, or what sort of world it will be afterward.  I'm glad I'm sequestered at home, because nobody needs an old grouch around.

I leave you with a Playtex commercial from the 50's.


  1. I don't remember those kind of girdles, just the white stiff kind. My mom never wore one but I saw them in stores and in the Sears catalog. It seems like it would be difficult to breathe fully in those things because of all the compression of the stomach. Do you know what Spanx are? They are the latest "girdle." I'm grouchy too, and lonely. I feel sorry for myself, which isn't a good look for me. It feels like this could go on for a long time, especially as idiotic as some people are being.

  2. My mom made sure we had a girdle to war and I caught now tht I don't wear one when I probably could use it and back then did where one when I was the slimmest I'd ever been or be. None of us liked them, but we to wear one due to mom. They were very hot in summer. Back then hose were a necessity too. Now I go barelegged more than not. Summertime is definitely more comfortable than it was Ha!

  3. I remember my mom had one of those Playtex girdles. Glad I never had to wear one. We had "garter belts" to attach our nylon stockings. I graduated in 1967 and there was still a dress code in place. You had to kneel down and if your hem didn't touch the ground you were in trouble. When I was studying for a Sunday school lesson I learned that there was a movement among churches back in the day not to allow indoor plumbing. So outhouses at churches were very common. There was a an outhouse standing when we bought our place but they had filled it with bottles (none of them valuable) instead of what one normally expects. They also filled the hand-dug well in the front yard with trash, which was a crime.

  4. I remember wearing a panty girdle in the very late 1960's just before pantyhose became available. I wore a girdle so I could wear nylons. The girdles had those little metal and rubber nylon holders in the front and back. Our schools were not air conditioned in those days so it was so hot and miserable sitting in a girdle most of the day with those nylon holders digging into the back of my legs. We had to take the girdles off for gym class that worked ok, but getting them back on after getting wet in the showers we pretended to take after gym class made them almost impossible to get back on. I was sure glad when panty hose were invented.

    I think many of us gals who grew up at that time are now wanting to give up bras. I'm at home most of the time and won't wear one around the house. I'm not so big at the top that a bra is needed for support. I do wear one when I go out anywhere. My dog starts missing me before I even leave the house, he starts getting upset when he sees the bra go on.


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