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!
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."