Monday, November 14, 2005

“It’s just suburban porn!”

It’s Smart Bitches Day, and an old entry of Beth’s got me thinking about underwear.

Do you ever have those moments where you’re just walking along, minding your own business, and you overhear or see something so out of the ordinary or just plain funny that you must immediately share it with everyone from work to your friends to your third cousin twice removed?

I’m not talking about moments like when some chick who’s protesting something (God knows what) decides it’s too cold outside to protest in the nude and instead streaks through your mall. That’s too obvious. I’m talking instead about those times when you hear or see something and the person saying or doing it seems so out of character or it's so unexpected that you get that little gurgle laugh in the back of your throat that somehow ends in a snort. You know what I’m talking about, right? In that moment you are completely frozen by the randomness of human nature and the natural absurdity of life and you think to yourself, “They couldn’t even make this stuff up.”

Early this year as I was fighting my way through the mall crowd I walked by an older couple coming the opposite direction. They were in their sixties, possibly older, bundled up in their jackets and hats (it was not yet spring) as they strolled by the window displays. As we came upon each other at the Victoria’s Secret, I watched her husband’s head turn to take in the draped bras and panties in the window. The wife was not as appreciative of the display.

“Oh Bob,” she said with disgust, “that’s just suburban porn!”

I almost spayed my macchiato on the person in front of me.

Suburban Porn? Excuse me?

Okay, now I too had a little brother who would run off with the Victoria’s Secret magazine before my mom or I got to browse through it. And yeah, their current window display is reminiscent of a Las Vegas cat house (I mean, the full mannequins don’t look so hot in the low rise satin bikinis when they have their JOINTS showing and don’t even get me started on the thongs!), but at the time it was a cute display of their bikini-cut cotton underroos and such. Nothing scandalous at all. It was the antithesis of scandal.

For the love of all that is undergarment, it was cotton!

Not that there is anything wrong with cotton. I love the stuff. And it’s not that it can’t be sexy…

Or can it? I mean, c’mon, how many romance novels do you read where the heroine is all “unawakened,” and the author chooses to illustrate this through her large collection of plain white cotton panties and bras. There is no acknowledgment that some comfortable things can be sexy, or that it is really damn hard to find a plain white cotton bra that is completely unadorned that isn’t also a training bra!!!! Not to mention the fact that most of these characters are in their early to late twenties which means they grew up with Victoria’s Secret as a constant in most malls. Hell, Vickie’s even has a brand aimed directly at teens and preteens now called “Pink” as part of their attempt to become completely brand identified.

Yet somehow, someway, these innocent and pure heroines avoided ever going into a Vickie’s their entire life and instead continue to buy the Hanes Her Way three pack because that’s what Mom’s been getting them for years! As the author has the character step into her granny underwear and bind herself into the straight-jacket like white bra, does the thought even occur that though Missy Girl here is sweet and proper, she still might want to get herself something fun to wear?

Half the joy of cute underwear is that you know you are wearing it and others don’t! It’s a self-esteem thing, a little motivator, and a safety thing for in case you are in an accident and the paramedic who is hot, hot, HOT has to rip off your clothing for some reason to save your life!

Your mother always told you not to leave the house without clean underwear.

Okay so that last one about the paramedic is more outwardly focused, but the self-esteem, the secret feeling, is all about you.

A white bra does not purity make, in fact, if Vickie’s has its way, the white bra will become non-existent. That’s right, people, Vickie’s is preaching the way of the anti-white bra. I went in to get a bra fitting and some new bras with a friend who used to work for the company. Acting as my personal bra fitter, she asked me what I was looking for. “I don’t know, I need a new white one, and a black one, and—”

“You don’t need a white one.”

“Um, yeah, A. I do. Mine’s falling apart. I’ve been relying on shelf bra tank tops. What else am I going to wear under light colored shirts?”

“Always having a white bra on hand was your mother’s advice. With all the strap baring shirts and tanks these days what you need is a skin toned beige bra instead.”

I guess Miss Manners or someone had a say in this. Who knew?

Not I. Certainly not those plain white bra and undies wearing heroines! Perhaps along with someone to help them with the action scenes and crime facts, romance writers should also have a undergarment consultant. The woman wouldn’t have to work for Victoria’s Secret. Someone from Nordstroms or the Bon or JC Penny’s would do just as well. I would just like to one day open up a romance novel where the heroine goes to her drawer and pulls out psychedelic cotton undies with colorful swirls, little boy cut shorts in bright red, or soft pink satin bikinis. The lack of white granny panties wouldn’t make her any less virginal but it would go a long way to showing us that she’s got a sense of humor, or style, or taste all of her own.

Prove that she’s not just vanilla, but vanilla with sprinkles.

And please, when trying to show an adventurous heroine, or one with an underlying audacious side, please get over the crutch of using a thong. It’s one thing to wear it under a dress if you don’t want lines (although there are other options out there), but quit trying to get us to believe that the heroine absolutely loooooves them, and finds them the most comfortable thing in the world.

That’s just lying to your reader.

Nobody loves them (except maybe the men who get to see them, and even then a caring guy has got to realize that if it looks uncomfortable, it probably is uncomfortable, or so I would like to believe), not really. They are a necessary evil, and about as far from comfortable as you can get outside giving yourself a wedgie, especially if you have this person working a movement intensive job all day.

Don’t even get me to try and believe that after some headboard-knocking, so-you-just-got-back-from-your-tour-of-duty, multi-orgasmic sex all night long your heroine is going to blissfully slide on her thong and go about her business without some, “Gee, that chafes,” or “Good frickin’ Lord, I think I’ll just go without; breezy is better than squeezy” thoughts. Unless it’s to go home to her soft cotton granny underroos she keeps just for that occasion because the area down there got a real workout and granny underroos in that case are the equivalent of a warm, comforting, non-chafing blanket. They do not judge, they do not bind, they just accept and cover.

So I guess what I’m suggesting, romance authors—and yeah, I know you’re all dying to hear my opinion—is a change up. Rid your virginal heroines of their white fetish and allow them to embrace color and style. And as for your fast girls in your hot novels, let them have their thongs, but let them also adopt the granny undies from their pure counterparts so they have something to wear during the inevitable “Big Misunderstanding.”

Oh, and hie thee to an undergarment specialist, pronto. Not only can they give you some options when it comes to color and cut (like I said, there are thong alternatives, you could start a trend), but they can also fit you for your own beige bra.

Eighty percent of American woman are wearing the wrong size anyway, so consider this entry my public service announcement.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Heeeeeee, given that I see 14 year olds with their red thongs hanging out of the back of their jeans (wasn't that "in style" like... 5 years ago???), it does seem like virginal doesn't work like it used to!

Drea said...

"They do not judge, they do not bind, they just accept and cover."
OMG, that's wonderful.

Thanks for the laugh out loud entry. Now, if only I could find a romance heroine who is a Victoria Secret wearing, non-giggling, virginal librarian (I wouldn't want to go overboard and ask that she not be repressed as well;).

Bookseller Chick said...

I hear you, and thongs and denim? Um no. Just no. The little straps showing which I once watched a girl try to seduce my coworker with by running her thumbs back forth and snapping the elastic outwards? Soooo No.

So to recap: one big no to the idea of anyone not hearing about thongs, thongs mixed with tight jeans, and thong seduction.

Drea-If you like it, take it. Quote the freedom of Granny Panty love to the world. I think you're asking too much because God forbid anyone ever like books and also not be repressed. And working with books? Repression city, let me tell you. Booksellers do not spend whole days trying to work the title Cunt into every other book recommendation, or playing with the pop-up Kama Sutra. Not at all...

Glad you enjoyed the entry!