EVERY time I turn on the telly or open Facebook, there is a compelling ad for a belly-flattening undergarment.
This is obviously a message being directed at me, and I'm not paranoid.
Where once a woman had to struggle for a good half-an-hour to get into a rigid garment of formidable elastic and reinforcing whale bone and dangerous hooks and eyes if she wanted her tummy to appear flatter, now it seems she just has to slip effortlessly into a feather-light tiny piece of lingerie and her flab instantly (meaning before your very eyes) disappears.
The ads are extraordinary. In case you haven't seen them - or just haven't noticed them because you are not the owner of a belly bulge - they begin with a series of women with frustrated expressions angrily grabbing handfuls of belly fat and showing it to us in a most indecorous manner.
Then they slip effortlessly into this scrap of light-as-air underwear, pulling it up as though they were David Copperfield on stage in Vegas, to create impossible magic: great big fat belly instantly replaced by a tiny waist and boyish hips.
It has to be fakery.
What I want to know is: where has the fat gone? No matter how supportive or clinching or tightening or flattening this garment is, no matter how advanced its technology, the fat still has to ooze out somewhere.
I've studied the ads carefully, replayed them a dozen times to try and see the illusion, but have failed to discover the trickery.
Of course I want one.
All I have to do is send my credit card details out to every Facebook user in the world and my flab will disappear like Siegfried and Roy's white tiger used to on-stage before he (the tiger) got fed up with the illusion and attacked Roy in a hissy-fit.
(Yes, I know two references to Vegas illusionists in one column, bit much, but this belly-flattening under- garment is an illusion equal to any they could pull off.)
There is another ad doing the Facebook rounds for a product that has bewitched me as much as the under- knickers. It too makes unwanted stuff disappear like magic. In this case, puffy bags under the eyes.
A woman with enormous eye-bags, who looks like she's just celebrated her 103rd birthday, comes on and begins rubbing the eye-bags with what looks a big pencil.
As she rubs, they disappear. Right there and then. She then changes from a drab 103-year-old to a dazzling 30-year-old as you watch. More fakery. It doesn't stop me wanting this magic pencil even though, unlike the belly, I do not have bags under my eyes.
These advertisements do draw you in, even if you are a cynic. They look convincing and promise to make you lose weight and remove ugly blemishes without doing a thing. These snake-oil salespeople of today's world both intrigue and bother me.
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