Many times, the women of my life have looked at my underwear and grimaced. From my mother, to my sisters, friends, cousins and aunts. When you live with family in a residential school your clothing floats around, from the washing machine to the racks, drying conspicuously under a fan, or in strong sunlight. What’s there to be shameful of?
I prefer solid coloured knickers, mostly dark hues. Black is probably my favourite. Although, I’d like to wear white, but let’s face it, period stains on whites are a nightmare, whereas they’re invisible on blacks. And lace? Very minimal. I’m not too fond of lace as it seems a bit tacky to me and reminds me of a fishing net. Now I know lots of women who love lace and fishing nets, and if that’s your thing, rock it. But it’s definitely not mine – it makes me itchy and blotchy.
My knickers are all high-waisted in cotton and solid colours, and I love them. They sit snugly around my waist, my bum fits into them in it’s perfect roundness, and they don’t dig into my inner thighs, giving me rashes. The kind of rashes that can only heal by going commando, lots of Sudocrem and penguin walks.
I’ve tried bikini cuts and thongs, but they feel a bit awkward, desperately gripping on to my waist and then just pointlessly hanging between my legs – maybe like a penis, but I wouldn’t know. And I hate bows too. Why the hell is there a bow on my underwear? My underwear is not a wrapping to my vagina-vulva-bum gift, especially when the bow can’t even be undone. So, I sometimes wear batman or Che boxers instead.
And my bras are all “boring” too. A few balconettes and a few plunges, depending on the shape, style and silhouette of the brand. I don’t mind deep rich colours, or even some bright colours. But nothing pastel, dull or boring, the likes of which you can find at M&S. They look like the plastered walls of an old abandoned building – peeling, faded and unsure. And again, minimal lace and no ridiculous flowery embroidery. My nipples don’t need definition, thank you.
“If I deem a man worthy of undressing me or seeing me in my underwear, he will find me sexy for me, not for your ideas of what sexy should be”
I’m not too busty, but I’m not too small either. All my bras have thick, comfy straps, because I like to have support without making my back and shoulder muscles sore. I cannot stand unpadded bras, particularly the see-through, supposedly sexy, ones that offer no protection to your breasts at all; lightly padded and, most of the time, underwired, please. I don’t know about you, but an accidental elbow to the chest on the tube really hurts. And given my height, that’s an everyday experience in my life along with the enjoy-a-sweaty-man’s-armpit-in-your-face experience.
Everyone who has ever seen my choice of underwear, especially the knickers, comments on their plainness. There is an expectation that when there is a man in my life I will surely change what I wear for his sake. I’m often asked, “Don’t you want to feel sexy?” and “what is the big deal in baring a little skin and being a bit uncomfortable?”
Baring skin is not a big deal at all, but I love my comfort. And I do want to be sexy, but on my own terms. Not on Victoria Secret’s terms of lace, skimp and net. I find black sexy. I find my high-waisted knickers and simple bras sexy. I find me sexy. So, when, and if, I deem a man worthy of undressing me or seeing me in my underwear, he will find me sexy for me, not for your ideas of what sexy should look like on me. This is my body.
I feel like so many lingerie brands are designed for the male gaze. Bras are often made according to what would be sexy to men, but why can’t thick straps, comfort and simple be sexy? Who is to decide what sexy is? Surely, if women are wearing bras and knickers, they should be able to decide what looks sexy to them?
So, in defence of my plain undies, and anyone who wears them, this is just a reminder that you determine what sexy is. You determine when you want to be sexy and what underwear helps you feel that way – if you choose to wear it. You’re gorgeous and your lovely body deserves underwear that makes you happy.
There’s nothing like a pair of knickers so soft and breathable that you forget you’re wearing them. That level of comfort is unparalleled. So if, like me, you don’t care for the stereotypical “sexy” underwear, there’s no need to get your knickers in a twist – reclaim your lingerie game.