Smooth sailing

There’s no VPL when Spanx is in the house, just ask the CEO

By Beth Teitell
Globe Staff / April 14, 2011

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The girdle queen gave the room a once over and was pleased. The minglers at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies event looked appropriately smooth. “No visible panty lines,’’ said Laurie Ann Goldman, chief executive of Spanx.

Goldman, 48, also had no VPLs, as she calls them — or any lines, for that matter. “I’m wearing four Spanx,’’ she said: An “On Top and In Control’’ shirt; the back-fat-banishing “Bra-llelujah!’’, a “Skinny Britches Thong,’’ and “Tight-End Tights.’’ Her jacket was Dior; her skirt, heels, and handbag were Chanel. “But I’m most proud of my Spanx.’’

Her public quickly swarmed. “From bat mitzvahs to weddings, your products accompany us to all of our important life events,’’ said Laurie Gershkowitz, a cochair of the CJP’s Women’s Philanthropy’s annual Pomegranate event, which was held recently at Congregation Mishkan Tefilah, in Chestnut Hill.

“You’re my hero,’’ said Susan Davidson, a co-owner of Holly Cleaners. “I’ve got fat coming out of my teeth,’’ she added, wishing that Spanx could eliminate flab completely. “The fat has to go somewhere.’’

Like a neighborhood priest, Goldman is used to hearing confessions, but the ones she gets are about back fat, bagel rolls, and so called “grid butt’’ (the result of sitting on fishnet stockings). “People get personal about their problems.’’

During her featured talk at the event, Goldman showed a video of Hollywood’s best and skinniest gushing about Spanx. When Justin Bieber crooned “I’ll buy you a panini, and some Spanx to make you teeny,’’ to Tina Fey during a “Saturday Night Live’’ sketch, the audience was near tears.

The evening’s one bumpy moment came during the Q&A, when Sarah Perry, of Newton, floated the idea that Spanx thrived by preying on women’s body issues. “I understand your question,’’ Goldman said. But the products are “really about feeling comfortable in your own skin.’’

Even if it needs to be sucked into submission.

Beth Teitell can be reached at

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