"I Have Nothing to Wear"

From 8 to 14 back to 10

In August my doctor told me that I need to lower my cholesterol and that I’m the o-word, as in obese. (Snarky but true, she looked to be in the o-category herself, but that’s her problem, not mine.) How’s that for an annual; at least I didn’t hear the c-word, God-forbid, but I felt a bitter mix of disappointment, surprise, and embarrassment at what I had done to myself. I can lay blame on circumstances (and I will) but my mouth and my eating habits and exercise habits are my own.

The toll of the divorce made its mark on my pant’s size. Way back when I had been an 8, then, after the girls it got up to 10, and over the course of so much dissatisfaction I was on the border of the Women’s Department—one more number and I was there.

And even Kenny, the vegetarian, helped me ever so slightly, what with my desire to tantalize him with the creamy mac and cheeses and quiches I could concoct just for him and his need for protein.

But no more. I was a good girl. No butter. No oil. No yolks. No regular ice cream. No potato chips. I told myself—and I believed it—that I had already had enough of those wondrous  home style potato chips and creamy custards any way. And I had frozen fruit desserts. And lots of salads—with only balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. And even on vacation I cut the cheeses and the desserts. A true testament: in Key West I made a slice of Key Lime pie last for two nights.

And I really did join a gym that afternoon—it was not said just to placate a concerned doctor. I don’t go enough, but I make it once a week (except for two weeks ago). I’m even starting to look at myself in the mirror when I get changed.

And it worked. This afternoon I am going to get a pair of size 10 pants because my size 14s are so baggy it looks like the 80s are back and even the size 12s look too mommy jeansy for me. And the cholesterol? The doctor had this to say after my recent blood test: “You have done a good job, keep up the good work.” And I will.

Last year when I was in San Francisco I barely made it up the hills; this year, I made it up and then up some more without ten-minute breaks to observe the breath-taking views.

As the Divine Bette Midler sang: “I Look Good.”

And I feel like myself once again.

I Have Nothing to Wear: Rethinking the Thong

For some reason the conversation of ten women and one man (what part of Girls Night Out did that achingly close, not yet married couple not get?) in a bar turned to undergarments. One Scandinavian woman is dissatisfied with the width of the thongs that are available in this godforsaken country; but it turns out that she is really longing for g-strings (which, to those of you who don’t know the difference—as I didn’t, is the string up you-know-what as opposed to an inch-wide swath of fabric up that same place). When I told the Scandinavian woman next to me that I don’t wear thongs or g-strings, but I cover it all up, she shook her head and said, “No, you must embrace your curves. Try it, you will feel marvelous.” She then said something about men who will love to see me jiggle. I’m not sure, but I thought the undergarments were for me and my hygiene. But no, she was quite sure that a g-string or a thong was all that I needed to get my love life out of the thought department. And with that a six-foot tall, blond, blue-eyed, slender Danish woman managed to invade the cotton comfort of my life.

But it wasn’t just about thongs. No, her statement “embrace your curves” sounded so much better than my mental disparagement of “you need to lose weight” or “look how fat your face is.” Embrace my curves. She said it in a much nicer and more respectable way than the man who never made it past a phone call because he said he liked my curves and then seemed to be disappointed that I didn’t carry the conversation into dirty-talking territory. I told her that I know I should accept who I am, for goodness sakes I’ve been down this thought-vein for years and it hasn’t brought me any happiness or dietary success. She smiled at me and said something about her not having any curves, which I ignored.

Today I was thinking about symbolism and carried the curves thought to my hair, which is as full of ringlets as Shirley Temple’s ever was. Those surely are curves that I am proud of, after all, I never flatten them with an iron or blow them away with a hair blower. No, I proudly toss my curliques from side to side. Maybe I am meant to be curvy, all over. It’s not that I am a glutton, but my body has found its place. It is not where I would like it to be. I do not have most of my friends’ bodies. But I guess they don’t have mine either.

I’m not sure if I’ll follow through on the thong/g-string connection to feeling good about myself, but I think I finally heard what I needed to hear, or else I was finally ready to just let down my guard of pretending that someday I could be someone else and accept myself—curves and all. I must admit, I’m getting awfully tired of being disappointed in myself. It’s hard to always be critical and always finding fault. I am who I am.

In Hebrew, the word hineni means I am here. Maybe I need to just start saying that to myself: hineni. I am here. This is me, curves and curliques and all.

I Have Nothing to Wear: Summer Clothes Department

It’s supposed to be in the 80’s outside today, but I’m dressing the same as when it’s in the 50’s. Besides the fact that the air conditioning makes summertime the time for sweaters and the heater in the winter makes it time for tee shirts, I just don’t seem to have any summer clothes. And it’s not just a question of not wanting to expose myself and the world to my fat arms, it’s a money thing. (By the way, I just saw a picture of Julia Roberts, whose name I temporarily forgot in acknowledgment of some kind of age thing happening in and to my mind, and her arms were definitely not toned.)

It’s quite interesting to watch the clothing happenings in the English Department these days. There are the teachers who have summer dresses from the nostalgic time when Little House on the Prairie dresses were in. Well, they were never in in Northern Virginia, no matter what you think we are not that hick here, so please, please save the rest of us teachers from the mockery by retiring those dresses and donating them to the National Archives down the road.

Then there are the teachers who don’t depend on just their income for support, you can tell who they are because they have new clothes at each turn of the season, and then, perhaps, a few times in the season. One teacher had on a lovely new sweater, tee shirt, Capri pants and sandals today. Not only did she look lovely, but she looked new. Looking new is the thing that I miss, okay, not quite miss because I was never there, but long to look. I’d love a wardrobe that is not enhanced by one or two new things every six months, but by a wardrobe that is enhanced by one or two old things in amongst the new. Mind you I am not an acquirer, but it seems every woman’s right, for at least a part of her life, to be able to be in style and/or feel in style and/or not feel tired like her clothes. 

There are two teachers who seem to have stock in Ann Taylor and who, between the two of them, have wrapped themselves in every shirt and dress style that has hit the mannequins. I shall not turn green or snippy and so will respond simply by saying that I prefer Banana Republic. But seriously, what’s with the matchy matchy everyday? Even their shoes must come from there, it’s all such a look. New I want, but without the adherence to catalog.

Then there is the teacher (I will refrain from commenting on the fact that she is from the South because that might seem unseemly) who favors colorful floral prints. Yes, I understand in the bayou you need to make sure the alligator (or is it a crocodile) can spot you, but up here we don’t have that type of predator. But I do marvel at her ability to always find prints, since I am having such a hard time to break out of the solids on-top mode since the choices are the aforementioned florals and swirls (I don’t look good in swirls) and perhaps a check or two. No wonder white, solid white, is my top of choice.

Which brings me to my clothing dilemma: not only do I not have money for a new wardrobe, I can’t even find a shirt that fits nicely and have a print for which I can use my $25 gift card that I received from a student. (Validation from a third grader!) Maybe it’s good that I don’t have the money to spend because I would just waste it on more whites. Maybe I shouldn’t have just peeked through some pictures at www.people.com, but should have kept focused on something really useful, like skimming through an article at www.dailykos.combecause now I am getting green. Green for so many things. Could this be because I am finally getting out of this hellhole and so I need new things to tempt and torment my brain, is this a sign that I am doing well and am able to move onto vanity, or is it just that I am plain tired and need to focus out of the inside and into the outside? Or do I really want to look different on the outside, do I need an overhaul out there just like I have done with the inside?

I Have Nothing to Wear: Jewelry Department

There may be toxic assets out there poisoning the financial system, but I have toxic assets of my own that are bothering my system. Those poisonous assets would be my jewelry. It’s not as if I have a lot, but most of what I have has been tainted because they were bought with exman. No matter how beautiful something is, or how much it might suit what I am wearing, there is just no way that I am going to put on anything from our time together. Even if I didn’t pick it out with him... wait... no, there is no jewelry from that time that we didn’t pick out together. A sign. Yet another sign. Or is it a sign that we never had much money? Or that I didn’t spend money on myself?

The one piece that I really love is a diamond ring that we bought. It was after he had been a lawyer for about a year. It was a beautiful ring with ruby baguettes on the side of a round diamond. We loved the ring but couldn’t afford it with the diamond so we bought it with a zircon. A few years later he surprised me by buying a real diamond from a friend of his. (For all those not in the know, there is a very big diamond exchange in Tel Aviv.) That is a loved piece of jewelry. I think that I might even wear it in the future, when I am out of this house and the heat of hurt.

The few necklaces and bracelets and earrings that I have are history. I don’t want to recall the trip to the village in the north or the birthday or anything like that. Those assets shall be saved for the girls. The horrible platinum and diamond ring that he gave me for my 40th birthday I am still deciding what to do with. This ring is symbolic of the turn from my compliance to my non-compliance. This is a man, shocker here, who was never satisfied with a gift. (Did I tell you about the time I got him kayak lessons only for him to ALMOST drown when he overturned his kayak and got stuck in it? No comment.) So when I told him that I didn’t really like the ring—as he had done countless times in words or actions to countless gifts from countless people—he almost lost it. Lost it in the sense that he was so hurt, hurt in his big little ego. I told him I would reconsider. In the end, I said, yes, it is lovely and I will keep it. That was the second-to-last time I bent to accommodate him—wanting to accommodate him. (The last time was when we went to marriage counseling because I was already too broken in the marriage, I knew that it could not work, but I did it hoping to ease him into the reality of divorce.) Maybe I’ll sell it and donate the proceeds to a woman’s shelter.

Over the years since the divorce I have gotten some small things for myself, but nothing that became a layer over the old stuff. So when my temple announced that it was having its second annual arts and crafts fair with artists from Israel I knew that that was where I could find a necklace that would leapfrog past the old necklaces. And so, on a Sunday a few weeks ago I searched for a necklace that would be my Israeli necklace that would connect me back to Israel but without exman’s shadow.

I bought a silver necklace with pearls, clear beads, and a silver pendant. It is now the necklace that I can finger as part of my fidgeting repertoire. The pendant has a habit of twirling around, and I now have the habit of touching it to see if it is in place. I have a necklace now with which I interact reminding me, perhaps, that things and people need to be attended to and not taken for granted. Most importantly, oneself.

I Have Nothing to Wear: Eyeglasses Department

It is not okay that the head of my department, who just announced that she will be retiring in June, has hipper glasses than me. The one saving grace is that she didn’t splurge and get the progressive lenses so you can see that she is wearing bifocals, while mine are progressives so you wouldn't be able to age me by the horizontal line in the middle of my lenses. Other than that, the woman who wears three-inch bright yellow platform flip flops (and not just during Spirit Week) and colored opaque stockings with clogs and denim skirts is far ahead of the game than me in the “what’s on your face” department.

This is definitely not good. My glasses were hip, when I bought them two years ago. Now they are passé, and that is not making me happy. Especially when confronted with her Dolce & Gabbana’s. So, I decided to get me some hip glasses. I figured if it was one of the girls who needed a new item for her wardrobe I would moan and then buy it, so I decided to do the same for myself. Yes, splurge on myself. Hard to contemplate.

First I went to the cheapo store where I found my last two pairs of hip glasses for a lot less. But there was nothing there: nothing that bespoke “new and improved” and made me feel that I was making a step up the hip-o-meter and not merely treading water. I practically had tears in my eyes when I left that store, where else would I get the look I want at the price I want?

So to LensCrafters I went, which is where the hip soon-to-be-retiree got her glasses. Yes, I was a frame stalker. I found a pair in two different color options that I liked, so over to the saleman I went. He decided to make life difficult for me showing me his cost card for different types of lenses. For goodness sakes I said to him in my New York cum Israel tone (which means, no patience for you) when he showed me his laminated card with lots of columns and rows and numbers, just tell me how much the glasses would cost with the medium-priced lenses.


I felt that I needed to remind him about the 25% off something sale that was advertised all over the store.

“That is with the discount.”

There goes hip. There is no way that I am paying that much money for glasses. So I will need to go to the other cheapo frame stores where I have never found a frame I liked and hope that this time things will be different. For now, you’ll recognize me when I stand next to the retiring English teacher, I’m the one with the glasses that look like the older woman should be wearing, and she’s the one wearing the glasses that I should be wearing.

I wonder who’s going to replace her?

I Have Nothing to Wear: Bra Department

May I say with all honesty that I hate bras. Yes, I know that I wanted to start a fancy nursing bra company, but I did not. And I have had a hate/resigned attitude towards bras ever since I realized that I must wear one every time I leave the house. I have tried to wear two tee-shirts (that was long before it was a fashion statement called layering, and an excuse for companies to sell more color-coordinated tee shirts); and camis (with and without shelving); and even to go without any breast support or extra covering. Inevitably I keep going back to the standard breast-imprisonment system.

The moment I walk into the house, it is off. And when I go on long-distance car rides, I eschew the pleasure of having a piece of elastic tightly wrapped around my rib cage rubbing and grating, and at least one strap that always falls below expectations (that being the expectation to stay on the shoulder). I would go without altogether, but there is a noticeable difference from when I wear one to when I do not, and it is about a five inch difference (where people assume breasts should be as opposed to where gravity has decided mine should be).

I have had the pleasure of spending a lot of money at Victoria’s Secret for bras that promise to make me look and feel like an angel, and they are relatively comfortable. And I have gone the way of sports bras that smoosh one’s breasts in the opposite way than a mammogram does. But through it all, I have retained my intense hatred of this restraining device. They're just always uncomfortable. Now I am sure that plenty of women are going to say that they have no problem wearing a bra, that they don’t even notice that it’s there; well, lucky you is all I have to say. I don’t think that the problem is that I haven’t found the bra for me (kind of like I haven’t found the man for me), but rather it’s just not for me.

Compared to the other clothes we wear, this one item stands out as working against nature. Bras are not there to cover or protect us from the elements, no, their sole purpose is to prevent two parts of our body from being free. It is in no way like a sweater that gives a warm, snuggly feeling just by gently touching the skin. Nor is it akin to a pair of pants, even if it is tight and hard to button, because its purpose is not to make you suffer, it’s just that you bought the wrong size or became the wrong size, for this the pants cannot be held accountable. And even the beleaguered turtle neck, which I cannot abide (not to wear and not to see, especially on men) is an optional garment, so there’s no problem there. I will admit that the other restraining device, the girdle or whatever new word we have for similar devices, are just as uncomfortable, but here, it’s generally only required a few times a year—not every day. (You can tell that I don’t go to a lot of parties or on many dates.)

I don’t plan to go back to my free-bouncing days; I am simply presenting myself as a beleaguered woman who has been harmed by society and its norms, and the fashion world for its complete lack of creativity and problem solving. You know the old story, if they can get a man on the moon, then….

I’m writing this at home, in my room, and I am, oh, so comfortable without you know what. I wonder if I think differently when wearing and when not? 

I Have Nothing to Wear: Shirts that Stay Ironed

Why is it that some people still look sharp at the end of the day and me, five seconds after putting on an ironed shirt I am already rumpled? Is there something in my skin that causes wrinkles? Is it my constant movement that stresses the fibers so that they cannot keep at attention? Is my constant internal fussing being transmitted to the fibers? And (no mocking of my ironing ability) this happens if I iron and use starch or if I spend $5.00 to have someone wash and iron for me. And it even happens in no-iron shirts (which seem to have been sprayed with some kind of slimy stuff that my skin repels). It’s just one of the things about me that sets me off from the well-to-do.

I think that the difference between the haves and the have nots is not determined by intelligence, trust funds, or even sheer arrogance, I think that the world is divided between those who always look good and the rest of us, those who wrinkle in starch, whose “long last” lipstick fades with one air kiss, whose hair products succumb to the elements, and whose pants always have unsightly wrinkles in the crotch area. (Shouldn’t the “crotch area” be called something else for women? Maybe it should be referred to as the “reproductive region.”) This wrinkle-ability has had a huge impact on my self-esteem, which we all know is critical for success in life.

What would life have been like for me if at the end of the day I looked as sharp as I had at the beginning, and if I knew in the morning that no matter what I did, short of sitting in an open convertible in the rain (that would have been another story), I would be looking perfect all day long? Would I have held my head higher as I went about my business if I didn’t think that I looked like someone who has just spent the night under an overpass? What would life have been like if I always looked as if I had just stepped out of my boudoir? 

The potential is breathtaking. I truly think that this inability to stay starched has handily hindered me. They say the suit makes the man. Well I say the shirt makes the woman. Who wants a woman who is un-ironed, who looks like she can’t put herself together, who looks like she doesn’t understand the most basic aspect of getting dressed—staying neat.

Am I the wrinkle equivalent of a stainster, you know, those people who always seem to be dropping on themselves. Have they, too, been discriminated against, and have they, too, been relegated to the lower echelons of society because they cannot breach the simple code of ethics—staying clean.

Oh, the horror, the horror. It wouldn’t be so bad if everywhere I looked there were rumpled people and just a few of the impenetrable. But no, there are so many potential ladder-climbers—people who seem to modulate their bodies just so.

This has even dictated my fashion sense, because at a certain point you just have to give in to your own elements. I have become a sweater girl, and I wear tee shirts under them. I have put the iron away. I have resigned my fate to being one of the clothing wrinklers.

Interestingly, this ability is external. So far, it has not been transmitted to my face and things there look, well, as if I just stepped out of a botox boudoir.

So, I guess, I still have some potential. For what, I’m not sure.

I Have Nothing to Wear: Holiday Sweaters

Could someone please let me know if the women who wear holiday sweaters are aware of how silly they look or do they really think that it’s a look to wear out in public? I am aware that teachers are not universally recognized as being fashion trendsetters, but in the past few years of working in a school building I can say that we dress pretty much like anyone else who doesn’t have money to spend on anything that is in a fashion magazine. But now it is positively a horror to walk down the English Department hall.

There seems to be a competition between two teachers as to who has the most holiday sweaters and matching earrings. Why, why would a 60-year old woman want to wear a red Santa sweater? And why would an almost 60-year old woman wear Christmas tree ornament earrings? Yes, I know that Christmas is coming, and yes I know that it is very exciting. I can see them getting all worked up about Jesus’s birthday (just like my student who keeps writing “Jesus Christ December 25” on my students' birthday chalkboard). It is just too horrible to look at them.

Is it childish? Do children get subjected to these deranged sweaters with appliquéd stars? Is it that they really think they are picking up the mood of the room? Do they think that just by standing in the front of the room in a red and silver sweater a whole classroom of students will stop moaning about writing timed essays and will be infused with holiday cheer as they gladly analyze the sayings of some long-dead, long-winded philosopher? Are they suffering from the initial stages of Alzheimer’s and need to be reminded that Christmas is coming? Perhaps these sweaters are actually some kind of visual shopping list. Oh yes, a star, that reminds me to get earrings for my daughter, she likes stars. And the reindeer, that reminds me to get my husband something for his car (maybe a GPS so he and Santa don't get lost). And the snow ball, that reminds me that I need to get more icing (or is it frosting?) for the cookies I will be sending to everyone who annually sends to me a tin of cookies.

We know that it’s certainly not image-enhancing since I am pretty sure that most women over the age of five don’t want to be a walking fashion faux pas.

Do these women buy these sweaters for themselves or are they gifts? I cannot for the life of me imagine going into a store only to find myself contemplating the red sweater with Santa or the red sweater with a gingerbread house. Do you think about how it will look on the “gift” designee or do you just go for the most garish design? I mean what are the thought processes that brings a person to spend money on an annual sweater.

I wonder if there’s a company that offers an annual subscription. “Buy now and get a new Christmas sweater for the next ten years; you’ll have it before December 1st so you’ll have plenty of time to go holiday shopping in your holiday sweater. And if you buy a subscription for a friend, we guarantee that you will not get the same sweater design.”

Seriously, sort of, why is this part of the tradition? Does it mean that we really do look beyond what people look like and look into their hearts instead? Is that it? If you can see past this ugliness you will find my beauty? Is that the true and new holiday message?

I Have Nothing to Wear: Pants Department

Perhaps the most serious flaw or failure to appear in my closet is pants. This may be news to the clothing companies, but women have thighs and for some horribly upsetting reason, they get bigger as we get older. As the breadth of our experience widens, so do our thighs. It is truly a horrible part of life. I suggest the companies that make pants take note of this, and not just those who specialize in “designing” elastic-waisted pants.

I refuse to buy elastic-waisted pants. It is yet another peculiarity of mine; I fear that wearing elastic-waisted pants will make me feel my age or older, and my weight or more, and I am not ready for that. No, I still need a button and a zipper. But for goodness sakes, can’t they just use a little more fabric when they say “comfortable fit” so that more than my ankles are comfortable. It’s a horrible feeling to not be able to pull up a pair of pants that are ostensibly your size over your thighs. We hourglass and pear ladies do not want stretch fabrics, we just want fabric. Maybe the fabric that is saved from the pants of size 0 girls can be used instead on the 12+ women.

I’ve been butt-looking lately, and I have noticed that there really are many women with “junk in the trunk,” as they say. So why do I leave store after store with nary a pant in a bag? There are clothing stores where I can find tops that fit me, but not bottoms. What’s the deal? Hello, we are not all Heidi Klum. Maybe we don’t make the duds look as beautiful as she does, but I’m pretty sure there are more women with butt and thigh issues than who look like Mrs. Klum. And besides, I thought people liked a challenge (design that is), it is supposed to make them better, stronger, wiser, and reveal that they have talent.

I have one pair of black Lee jeans that make me smile every time I put them on because they fit. They do not make me feel that I am about to split the seams or break the zipper or pop a button. But, alas, I only have one pair, and on the days when I must give them a rest, I suffer. Things with other pants are always going somewhere, generally up the crotch because they don’t fit well. Or, they are clinging to my thighs so tightly, that when I stand up, they don't resume the position, they stay clinging to me as if I was still sitting. It’s really not a fun way to spend one’s day: with pants going up up up all the time, or stay stay staying where they should not be. Oh, it's a terrible thing, to have to constantly try to conceal pants tugging.

I think that the solution is for the pajama companies to start designing pants. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, clothes that are as comfy as flannel pajamas? Now we just need to work with them on the patterns, I don’t know about you, but I do not want to wear snowflake-patterned pastel pants to work.

I Have Nothing to Wear: Shoe Department

I have nothing to wear. Do not laugh and say, “Sure she says that but she probably has two walk-in closets filled with lovely clothes.” HA! I don’t. Really, I have no clothes. Well, no clothes for certain parts of my body. Or no clothes that are comfortable for certain parts of my body.

For some reason I have no comfortable shoes. I buy cheap, and they are uncomfortable. I buy nice (on sale), and they are uncomfortable. I buy shoes that fit and then they don’t. My heel always pops out of the shoe; and if there’s a strap, the strap always slips down enough to drive me bonkers trying to get it back up into place--all day long. If I buy flats, they feel too flat. If I buy heels thinking that now I am a mature woman of the world and so I should be able to wear heels with all the comfort with which I wear my socks, but alas, they always disappoint. My feet are not stupid, they realize that they were not designed to be suspended in mid-air, and they dost protest. And when I buy comfort shoes they invariably have a fault: they are not as comfortable as they are supposed to be. What’s a woman to do?

And I refuse to wear sneakers: that is a vow I made to myself when I moved back here from Israel, it is just too tacky to see women wearing sneakers, unless they are sneaking around. I am resisting the comfortable clog shoes that are the new-orthopedic shoes; maybe I’ll get them when I don’t care about how I look, but for now I still care. I have even tried pointy-toed shoes after watching too many episodes of Sex and the City, but having pinched toes and the weird sensation of walking in shoes that extend at least an inch past where my toes end is just too uncomfortable of a sensation to become committed to. What I especially hate about shoes is that they are not optional. I have to wear them.

Shoe shopping looms large in my near future. I really need to get a new pair of work shoes, my everyday (and I do mean everyday) pair is just too tired and worn looking. I want something that looks good and is comfortable, the last pair I bought seemed just right, that is until I wore them for longer than a walk around the store. Who would have thought that the back part of the shoe would be too high and make me ache and bleed in the part of my foot which is usually popping out? I wish I had the money for a pair of custom-made shoes, wouldn’t that be lovely, a pair of shoes made to fit your feet. It seems to me that rich people walk with ease and confidence because they have shoes that fit them properly. Isn’t this a right—to have shoes that fit comfortably? Seriously, don’t we all deserve comfortable shoes, and well-made clothes made out of soft fabrics that do not cause us daily discomfort?

I honestly don’t know what to do. Spend some money I don’t have on good shoes that might not disappoint, or go right for the cheap shoes that look cheap and feel cheap, but at least I won’t feel like I wasted my money on an illusion. It really is a shoe conundrum. 

Must Underpants Have Style?

There was a time when I wore underpants that did not cover my belly. I didn’t mind if they just covered my pubic hair and private parts. In fact, I liked that. I assumed that that is what they were for. But now, now my undies must cover my stomach, working as an invisible cloak so that I am less aware of what’s there.

I started thinking about this the other day, when I went to Pink with my younger daughter to get a birthday present for a friend of hers. For those, fortunately, not in the know, Pink is Victoria’s Secret’s store for the tween and teen girl. And if you don’t know what Victoria’s Secret is, well, think fancy undergarments, and HELLO, don’t you ever get to the mall? 

After we finished there we still had time before the birthday party, so we headed to my store of choice: TJ Maxx. And I looked for undies there. The last time I got new ones was at Victoria’s Secret when I got a leopard print mini-brief and a black lacy thong (yes, yes, I know—the things we do for lust) when I was still in the throes of my relationship with TM (Transition Man). So it’s been quite a while.

Experience is something that helps in some endeavors, and underwear shopping is surely one of them. I looked at the bikinis, and reminisced to a time when I didn’t visibly cringe at an imaginary picture of me in them, with so much of me uncovered. And then I looked at the briefs with tummy control and remembered the three pairs that I have at home and their varying degrees of discomfort, and since I was going for comfort, they were out.

I picked out three ribbed cotton high-rise briefs (my shape of choice at this shape) in blue, pink, and purple. They looked so comfortable albeit a bit big, but I know by now that size is deceiving; after all, I really can’t see how much of me is behind me.

My daughter, holding two pairs of size 0 skinny jeans, found me and asked if I would come see how she looks in them. She cast a glance at the underpants hanging from their little hangars (giving them dignity, I guess) in children’s hues and mommies’ heft, and looked away, tainted for life, I think, at the sight of her mother’s fall from grace for having absolutely no self-esteem if she was considering putting those things on.

Humiliated by a look from a twelve-year-old, I put the Big Girl briefs back. Really, I do need to care about how I look, even if it’s for me—especially if it’s for me. Propelled by my desire to find a modicum of sex appeal and comfort, I found a black high-rise brief with some lace and a beige brief that promised “to fit my life” (whatever that means), at least it had a shape to it that you could imagine a woman wearing, and not a pregnant woman, at that.

There’s a wonderful children’s book, Always Wear Clean Underwear!: And Other Ways Parents Say “I Love You” by Marc Gellman, with an essay titled “Don’t Pee in the Pool” (or something like that). The moral of that story is that even if you can get away with peeing in the pool, you still shouldn’t do it because you know it’s wrong. That is how I am training myself to think about my underwear: it doesn’t matter if anyone sees it, I need to feel good about how I dress myself, seen and unseen.

P.S. When I picked up my daughter from the party, I wore my pajamas (with which I do not share my personal space with other garments), so I wasn’t exactly starting out on the right brief.

P.P.S. I'm thinking that it really is time to exercise. If it's (as in the tummy untucked)  bothering me this much, maybe I ought to do something about it. I'm doing well on the diet (I broke on bread products, but not on pasta, rice and potatoes), maybe I'm ready to tackle another self-improvement challenge.

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Yes, I Wear Underpants

Since I’ve been thinking about panties lately (see “I Need a Diaper”) I figured that I might as well continue reflecting on them and the problems they are causing me.

What I want to know is why can’t I have a pantyline? Who decided that it’s unseemly to see the line of a woman’s undergarment through the fabric of her pants or dress or skirt? Are those the same people who brought us pants that accentuate the shape of a woman’s bottom and clingy fabrics that make it a near impossibility to wear undies without seeing that they’re there?

Why the need for pretense? Must we always pretend that we don’t need the accoutrements that we need? I never heard anyone complaining about a man’s undershirt being visible under his dress shirt. (I actually think it’s sexy in a good-boy sort of way.) So why do we need to pretend that we’re not walking around being held up and in in all sorts of ways?

Not surprisingly, the powers that be have given us tools to comply with the pretense. There is (thanks Brazil) the thong. Apparently there are a lot of women who like to live with a wedgie up their asses all day long. If I had one on I would move the string over, and what would you have, a sideways pantyline across one side of my bottom, not quite a dude magnet. [My older daughter, when she was about 12 and Victoria’s Secret (which just discovered the potential of the tween and teen market) introduced thongs for girls, bought a pair. (Finally, one example of when I mothered well.) I let her have it figuring that she would discover that underwear should be made out of fabric and not climbing rope. She did. We moved on without an argument.] They seem to work well with dresses and skirts, that is until the woman gets up and there is a new pleat in the back. But they’re definitely not working with pants—they seem to push the entire enterprise further up, for a full wedgie. Okay, point made.

Another invention, pantyhose with the built-in protection so you don’t need to wear undies. Come on, who are we kidding. If you buy your pantyhose under the assumption that you are smaller that you are (and who hasn’t?), then there will be a three inch gap between where you end and they begin, so you will still need your undies. And if you are feeling “bloated” and buy a larger size than you need, you will end up with stomach wrinkles, which is replacing one unseemly wardrobe malfunction with another.

And commando is just not an option (again, see “I Need a Diaper”).

And even the best Barely There briefs occasionally make their presence known. So what, I have to wear the modern day girdle (oh, sorry, I meant to say “shapewear”) to prevent any inconveniences to passersby? Give me a break. Those things are so uncomfortable: covering you from somewhere on your stomach to somewhere on your thighs. Which, in essence, means that to prevent having a pantyline you have committed your body to it’s own personal torture chamber. (Do they use these at Guantanamo?)

At this point all I have left to say is this: Men, deal! And women: woman’s liberation, remember the 60’s and bras being burned? How could we do this to ourselves again? ?I’m doing my part by saying yes to the pantyline!

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I Need a Diaper

I sneezed earlier and my very thin everyday pad got drenched. If I laugh before I squeeze my legs together, then I dampen my Victoria’s Secret special. And, heaven forbid, I raise my voice (okay, yell), and I am at home (which is where the raising of voice generally occurs), and I am in my pjs (with which I do not generally partake, if you get my drift), then the trickle travels undaunted down my legs. Oh, the angst.


I cannot blame my daughters for a lost figure since I was in the best shape ever after daughter number one (we were living in a fourth-floor walk-up and I would go up and down those stairs countless times a day lifting weights, i.e., daughter and groceries), and with neither of my daughters was I lulled into thinking that I could eat for two and not pay the price, so I barely gained any weight except the babies and their apparatus, which was gone gone gone soon after birth. But, I can lay the blame of my need for a midlife diaper squarely on their lovely shoulders. It’s all their fault that the hydraulic system that was in place prior to their arrival down the canal has become faulty. What is this? I don’t remember reading about post-pregnancy peeing in What to Expect When Expecting.


Stopping to sneeze, laugh and/or yell are just not options (although, thankfully, giving up jumping jacks has not proven to be a problem). I’m not talking about changing my lifestyle here--I’m talking about the occasional light involuntary urination. Wearing a regular pad could, I guess, solve the problem. But, as usual, I think that the product developers must be men because those things are so uncomfortable. There’s always something going up somewhere, and I have still not mastered the science of proper pad placement even with those “wings” (what a ridiculous term for adhesive strips). Not to mention the fact (and I do mean fact) they feel like cardboard between my legs.


Which brings me to diapers. Maybe I need a diaper? But I’m thinking that that’s overkill, it’s only a little bit and only sometimes; I’m not exactly soiling myself. I’m spotting urine, if you will. What’s a woman to do? I’m thinking that maybe there could be a pocket in undies where you could elect to tuck in a specially-fitted pad. Victoria’s Secret take note: this may be even bigger than the thong (and not just literally!). I hope so, or else it may mean that I am alone in this and I would hate to think that.


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