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How We Created A Product That Became a Hollywood Must-Have for Moms

People

We have all heard the real estate agent's mantra: location, location, location! Well, the same is true for how Belly Bandit made its Hollywood debut. We were in the right place! But, the real story begins in Michigan, cold, snowy, where's the sun? – Michigan. While my two sisters and I loved growing up there and still rock our “Made in Detroit" gear, we were ready to move and SoCal was calling us. So, we said goodbye to winter coats and hello to the LA lifestyle. And, that's where Belly Bandit was born!


Yes, I got married, started a promotional product business with my sister, and then got pregnant. Sounds like quite the fairy tale, right? Well, no. My pregnancy wasn't easy (I gained over 60lbs) and post-pregnancy was even worse. While, lil Charlee was perfect, I just didn't feel like myself. I received a lot of emotional support from my husband and sisters but what I craved was support for my body. I needed a confidence boost. I wanted to feel like myself again. And that's when it happened. My sisters and I began researching the ancient practice of postpartum belly binding, and consulting with doctors about a safe way to modernize the age-old post-pregnancy support band. Lots of hard work, perseverance and sisterly support resulted in the creation of the first Belly Bandit Belly Wrap…

Cue pregnancy number two! A little easier than my first and this time, after Chase made his grand entrance, I was “wrapped and ready!" I wore the Belly Wrap immediately postpartum and continued to wear it as I slowly began post-pregnancy workouts. And that's where “location" came into play, big time. My gym was home to a few of what we call, “trainers to the stars." Yes, in Los Angeles, that's a thing. And they not only took notice of the Wrap but also were quick to share it with their post-pregnant clients…you may have heard of them, Jessica Alba and Halle Berry!

Are you kidding? We were thrilled. And when the call came that they wanted even more sizes, we were ecstatic. Our Wrap was in the hands of A-listers and Hollywood came calling. Before we knew it we had managers and agents asking for “ belly busters" for their clients. Our red carpet moment had arrived!

And it didn't stop there. Kourtney Kardashian was pregnant and wanted what she had heard helped other women in the industry – but more than that she wanted her own. So together with Kourtney we created the Limited Edition Kourtney Wrap, and the Kardashian name worked its magic. What we learned from our experience with Kourtney is that women, no matter what they do, celebrity or not, want the same thing - products they can trust, that make them feel good about themselves. So we began working on our next big idea, The Mother Tucker Shapewear Collection.

It's funny but Mother Tucker also had its roots in Michigan, as it was our Mother's idea! She wanted “smarter shapewear" that she could comfortably wear without awkward tugging and adjusting. And really, what woman wants shapewear that rolls, pinches and pulls, not us, and apparently not our celeb fans.

I was just walking out of a boxing class when my phone started blowing up with text and phone calls, “Turn on Jay Leno!" Huh? “Christina Applegate is talking to Jay Leno about your Mother Tucker Tank!!!" What?! Yes, new mom Christina was quick to tell Jay just how much she appreciated her Mother Tuckin' shapewear…. and we were in awe. Our sales surged and then came more…

We started hearing from assistants, product placements agents and hair and wardrobe stylists:

“Can you send Jessica Simpson some Mother Tucker Tanks for a People Magazine photo shoot?"

“Christian Aguilera is singing the National Anthem and needs the Mother Tucker Leggings!"

“Ugly Betty is requesting shapewear for the female cast members, can you help?"

Yes, yes and yes.

And more…stylists stopped by the office to pick up products for there “not to be named," clients and all said the same thing; they needed Belly Bandits, Mother Tuckers and more. As our brand grew so did our celebrity reach.

We signed non-disclosures, we secretly celebrated, and we embraced the word of mouth phenomena! We were producing the products women wanted and our location granted easy access. And, we continued to add to our collection. We listened to women and focused on their needs from nursing necessities, C-section specific products and intimates.

Fast forward…we're now celebrating our 10-year anniversary. But, we're still just as excited when our products show up on the pages of a magazine or celebrities such as Molly Sims, Tori Spelling, Jamie Lyn Sigler, Roselyn Sanchez, Busy Phillips, Ali Landry, Lisa Ling, Whitney Port and Jenni Pulos are “spotted" wearing them. Yes, I'm name-dropping but that's Hollywood!

So while we thank our Los Angeles location for getting us in the door it was ultimately our solution-based products that threw it wide open. Our company was founded on empathy and ingenuity. And while being a Hollywood favorite is flattering, it's the every day feedback we get from women around the world that continues to motivate us. It's sometimes hard for me to believe but our products are now sold in more than 1000 retailers nationwide and over 80 countries worldwide. And we're not ready to stop there, next up we're introducing an athleisure line, belly support products and a completely redesigned Belly Bandit Belly Wrap –so stay tuned!

It has been quite a journey from our roots in Michigan to Los Angeles and not one without a few bumps! But, through it all our mission has stayed the same, to help women look and feel their absolute best before, during and after pregnancy …all women. So being Hollywood's worst kept secret is fun and exciting but giving all women the “star" treatment is what Belly Bandit is all about!

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.