Undies? Panties? Underoos? Unmentionables? Whatever you call them, let’s hear what our FWave authors have to say:
First off, I’ve got to say that the banality of this topic amuses me greatly. I enjoy a good pair of underwear. And as a woman I’m thankful for the many options presented to me, in terms of texture, pattern, cut, etc. The variety has its pros and cons, but generally means that if you don’t like it, you can usually find something else that works. So, what makes a good pair of underwear? My favourite/comfiest pair is actually some bright orange Jagermeister promo swag (Full disclosure: They sponsor my cousin’s band). I’m a big fan of black stretch cotton boycuts (Note: why are they called ‘boycuts’? That has always bothered me. Never have I seen a boy wearing anything like my ‘boycuts’. Some stores call them ‘bootycuts’, also annoying). Some lace or mesh detail is nice, as long as a) it is still comfy, and b) the added details do not interfere with the rest of your clothing. They’re a great way to be comfortable, sexy, a little badass, and to show off your assets if/when you choose to (haha, pun!). But overall, I have a pretty varied collection.
Main underwear issues I have are sacrificing one’s comfort for socially constructed ideas about “sexy”. Underwear serves many purposes, and one of those can be for its aesthetic appeal. But certain ideas, like ‘thong=sexy’ are misleading. Thongs are okay and can be extremely useful and functional depending on the occasion. But saying only one type of underwear embodies “sexy” is very limiting to girl’s self-expression, when many different types work for many different bodies and can all be considered “sexy”. It contributes to the hypersexualization of a particular body type. In addition, the marketing of sexuality through underwear to younger and younger girls is extremely problematic. (See post by Jessica on Feministing http://www.feministing.com/archives/008226.html). So, I don’t know, shall we throw a take back the panties party? Empower women and girls to reclaim their sexuality through variety of choice? It’s still consumerism. I think our underwear choice is a symptom, not a cause of society’s hypersexualization. So let’s keep up the good fight, and hopefully our underwear will follow.
A passage from a Tree Grows in Brooklyn came to mind when I was thinking about the lacy numbers versus the functional ones.
In the book, Francie and her family are able to scrounge together 10 dollars for
Christmas presents for the entire family. Her mother gets a hat, her brother a pair
of spats, and Francie asks for a pair of black lace panties and a matching bra.
“Francie was wearing her lace pants and freezing. Whenever an icy wind blew
her coat apart and went through her thin dress, it was as if she had no underwear
on at all. ‘I wish—oh, how I wish I had my flannel bloomers on.
Mama was right, a person could get pneumonia.'”
I had this experience as a teen. My mother used to buy me full-coverage fruit of
the loom underwear until I was about 14. At that point I decided I needed to be
given some authority over my life, and my underwear became an example of that
So when we went to JC Penneys before I started the 9th grade, I picked out a package
of cotton thongs. I wore them for a few days and decided having an awkward ill-fitting
piece of cotton up my ass was neither comfortable nor functional. As far as I was
concerned the only function thongs had was serving as a superficial representation
of my potential sexuality as a young woman.
There are as many types of underwear marketed at women and men as clothing companies can find.
The g-string, the vintage ruffled-bottom bloomers (I have a pair), the boy-shorts and
personal favorites the bikini briefs and the lacy hipsters.
I love lace. It serves aesthetically to flatter the skin like no other material,
breathes well and if you get the right cut can still be comfy.
As a single woman, my underwear are generally not seen by many other people but its still
fun to pick out rad calcones that make me feel sexy or silly. I think
“boy-shorts” aren’t comfortable at all—I’m still baffled at men who wear boxers—So guys, you have
to tuck in your underwear into each pant-leg every time you put your clothes on? That’s way too
So I’ve been trying to figure out what my underwear politics are and say something insightful, and I really have nothing to say. I wear plain, black, Hanes underwear. The only variation is that some are boyshort and some are bikini. *looks down* Hmm, my underwear are not speaking to me. But I’ll be interested to see what my cowriters have to say on the subject!
You know, I had always assumed that most women just wore the regular cotton undies with polka-dots and other patterns. I play a lot of sports, and that’s what everybody would be wearing around the change room. It’s certainly all I had. I’m a big fan of both sports bras and the regular kind. I have a few really pretty ones from The Gap and such places. They’re just comfortable and pretty. Pretty is the word I would use, not sexy or buxom, just pretty. Most are solid colours, standard issue, but I have two with a bit of lace. I just think they are so, so, pretty. I’m a lace fan.
So, I HAD always assumed that we gals wear cotton comfortable underpants, until a former boyfriend sort of joked about how my underwear and bra never match. Uh, of course not. You want me to buy this shit in SETS? You think I’m supposed to find a bra that matches my lime green underwear that says Drama Club on the bum? And one that should match this pair with magenta and lavender stripes? Or this red pair with green santa hats that I got on sale the day of Christmas one year? Yeah, right. Do people really match their bra and underwear? The conversation turned into a “why don’t I wear sexy undergarments?” which was probably the beginning of the end of that relationship (there were lots of other factors, too) but I feel like it’s a touchy topic. I don’t like when disapproval is given to choices that I make on the basis of comfort (like wearing running shoes instead of nice flats or heels when grocery shopping, or wearing underwear that doesn’t rub, chafe, or wedgie).
To make this a feminist topic, I submit a conclusion: the underwear and bras I wear when I know somebody will see them are the same ones I wear when nobody sees them but myself.