Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2328 Span-X

People say to me that they think I spend a lot of time ruminating about words. And they're right, of course, our language is a fascinating thing, especially since it can come up with words like ruminate.

We are so versatile in how we put language to use too. Like the marketers that work on the product known as Spanx. Spanx, to the uninitiated, are garments meant to compress one's flabbiness into a semblance of firmness and smoothness. Essentially a girdle.

Girdles however, were just for your tummy and hips, whereas Spanx has been expanded to cover thighs, legs, and upper torsos as well. Sounds weird saying "Spanx has been expanded" but there you go. 

Spanx also bills itself as "shapewear," which I think is an elegant coining of a term. Like footwear for your feet and workout-wear for your smelly gym clothes, shapewear sounds so much better than girdle. Or anti-flabwear. 

But why Spanx? What does that mean? X-ing out the span of expansion? Or is it some Fifty Shades of Gray reference? Bring those fat globules under control with a little S&M swat. Or is it a reference to the concept of making you look brand spanking new?

Not sure where that phrase came from either. Brand spanking new. Some phraseologists attribute the brand part to the branding of cattle. It's the spanking part where they get uncertain. They posit the spanking part is a variation of the same span we see in spick and span. I've always assumed it has something to do with the practice of spanking newborn infants to get them breathing.

Much like the act of removing Spanx facilitates the process of breathing… after a long night of cruel sadomasochistic compression. 

America, ya gotta love it. 

No comments: