Body-squishing womenswear … occupies brainspace and consciousness that could be better used scheming, creating, or just daydreaming

In his 1976 essay “Lumbar Thought,” Italian writer-philosopher Umberto Eco recalled wearing tight jeans for the first time and finding that the constant feeling of clothing pressing on his body made him aware at all times of his exterior form, limiting his capacity for internal thought and stunting his ability to manspread. “As a rule I am boisterous, I sprawl in a chair, I slump wherever I please, with no claim to elegance: My blue jeans checked these actions, made me more polite and mature,” he wrote. “I lived in the knowledge that I had jeans on, whereas normally we live forgetting that we’re wearing undershorts or trousers.” Eco concluded that tight or uncomfortable items of clothing-bras, girdles, hosiery, heels, Wedgie Fit jeans-are significant contributors to women’s oppression. Body-squishing womenswear does more than inhibit free movement, he surmised. It occupies brainspace and consciousness that could be better used scheming, creating, or just daydreaming.

Christina Cauterucci

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