When female celebrities walk the red carpet, you may notice the glitz, cleavage, glamor and gowns but most have something in common that you’ll never even see: They’re all wearing Spanx. For the uninitiated, the miracle undergarments are the modern-day version of a girdle, and everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Jennifer Garner to Tina Fey cops to wearing them. Yes, Oprah in a girdle is indeed the image that sexy dreams are made of.

Spanx is just one of the many popular items of clothing that owes a major debt of gratitude to spandex — which has sure come a long way since its very public heyday in the leisure suits of the 1970s. The so-called “wonder” fiber that can stretch to more than twice its size and snap right back into shape was in an estimated 80 percent of the 20.5 billion garments sold in America last year. In a country with a pretty serious obesity problem, some see the forgiving fabric as keeping everyone just a little too comfortable.

This is perhaps most evident in the phenomena known as Pajama Jeans. They’re pants that look like jeans (well, kinda) but have the softness and stretch of pajama bottoms, and in the year they’ve been on the market, they’ve sold an astounding 600,000 pairs — many of which were probably worn around Thanksgiving tables last month.

And while some think the popularity of spandex is a harbinger of lazier times to come, not everyone agrees. “I do like spandex because of the way it curves my body,” says suburban mall shopper Janine Buffered. “We are not perfect bodies, but sometimes you do want to feel lean and beautiful. Put on spandex. You’re good to go.” Amen, sister.

So, more women will be hanging out in the “wonder fiber” in the foreseeable future. Now, we didn’t even mention Oprah there, so that image was all your fault.

[Via NPR]