Knickers are aspirational, not in the career, socio-economic sense, but in a more revealing, personal sense. They speak to who we want to see ourselves as and who we want to be seen as, they express our doubts and insecurities, our folly and our sense of fashion. A pair of panties lets us say that we are no longer that goody good girl, without ever having to really do something bad.
They let us say, right now this a brand new mommy body, and for six weeks (per doctors orders) listen to the granny pants speaking. A new pair of panties can satisfy a craving for something novel or a touch of luxury. It turns out that it is far easier to change our underwear than our relationship, our look, or our fundamental personality. So what do our knickers say about us?
Just had a baby and we are in sensible panties. The amount of fluid loss after having a baby is one of the many, many unpleasant side effects associated with childbirth. So into the briefs until the body settles down. If the flabby belly and constant drip, drip, dripping don’t make you feel unattractive enough–the oversized knickers surely will.
Then there are the trying too hard panties – the gorgeous, diaphanous numbers that are actually too small, too expensive and not machine washable. But having been dumped by the guy we thought was IT, well, sometimes a girl just needs a little pick me up. These will be the single most expensive pair of panties we will ever own, they will be uncomfortable and may never actually be worn. For a moment in the department store we had a fantasy of recklessness and revenge, yet back at home, better sense prevailed.
How about our favorite exercise underwear? It doesn’t matter what they look like as long as they are soft, comfy, stretchy and can withstand a million washings. These are the go-to underwear, that, without romance in sight, we find ourselves wearing all the time. They are the clothing equivalent of a favorite old pair of sweatpants. Although we tell ourselves that we should try harder and not leave the house dressed like this, it turns out that we can’t be bothered.
Then there is that favorite pair of undies that, if we just lose ten pounds, we will slip back into. These undies sit in the back of our top drawer, a talisman for our younger selves, a flimsy reminder of the body we want back. When we achieve this weight loss we will celebrate by trying to buy three more pair, only to find they stopped making them twelve years ago.
Lingerie departments offer us the promise of beauty, romance and, of course, youth. Our Facing Fifty undergarments include matching bras because this is really more of an outfit than a pair of panties, and it needs to carry the weight of all of our fears and years. This ensemble makes clear that, midlife withstanding, we are still a force to be reckoned with and no one should count us out yet. We will determine to wear this get-up a couple of times, after what we paid for it (!) and then justify the purchase by telling ourselves there will be a fancy dinner with a perfect dress where it will be just right.
At some point we will find the Knickers. They will look great, feel great, catch the eye of the person we most want to intrigue. They will neither make us look like we are trying too hard, nor like we have given up. They will come in all the colors we love and will make us smile every time we open the top drawer. But mostly we will wear them for us, because having figured out who we are, having come to terms with our aspirations and our limitations, the body we own and the life we lead, we will find contentment in our true selves.
My wish for you is the perfect panty.