The Total Bodyshaper operates on the same principle as an old-fashioned girdle with industrial thick elastic holding in the parts that like to hang loose. I couldn't wait to force my flab into this long, impossibly skinny sausage skin, but the problem was, where to start? Climbing into a Total Bodyshaper is like squeezing through a window half your width. Luckily, the Bodyshaper stretches. And luckily, it didn't ladder or burst apart at the seams as I'd half expected. I applied all my tights-wearing know-how and rolled the stocking down to the ankle, pointed a toe and plunged into the unknown. After a good five minutes' wriggling, squirming and twanging of elastic, I was in, and the heavy-duty panels were stretched over the right areas. I breathed in and looked in a full-length mirror expecting to see, not me, but the picture on the front of the packaging. Alas, the heavy-duty panels of nylon, Lycra and Spandex are not heavy- duty enough. My flab was just moulded into a smoother shape. Miracles can happen, but this wasn't one of them.
The Total Bodyshaper does not transform rounded bodies into angular ones. Once on, however, it makes a confidence-boosting foundation, perfect for wearing under clingy summer dresses or anything that is semi-sheer. Even if it doesn't suck away the fat, the Bodyshaper holds you together so that you feel together, even if you don't look it. Apart from the fact that the Bodyshaper offers only subtle support rather than the industrial strength that most women secretly desire, there are just two problems with it: the spaghetti-thin straps are too stretchy and tend to be pulled down by the weight being supported, which means you have to hoik it up all the time; unlike bodies, there are no poppers underneath, making toilet stops out of the question.
If you are even remotely claustrophobic, don't even think about it.
The Total Bodyshaper, pounds 19.95, is available from Selfridges, Dickins & Jones, and House of Fraser stores nationwide.
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