The Unmentionable Evolution

Jill Robbins
Written by Jill Robbins

We have a ton of different nicknames for underwear: panties, undies, drawers, knickers, skivvies, unmentionables… I’m sure there are more.  No matter what we call it, underwear serves a purpose, right?  But is that purpose more than just to cover our butts?  From the time I stopped wearing little girl cotton briefs with flowers or days of the week slogans until just recently, my underwear functioned as a form of self-expression instead of being just… well, functional. 

I could wear severe and boring business clothes but my underwear could be sending an entirely different message, even if that message was only sent to me. My outer clothes might be saying “I’m a no-nonsense professional” or “I’m a badass” but my underthings might be saying something else:  sweet and sexy, sporty and sassy or “take me now, I want some hommana hommana meow meow.” 

When I was single, I chose underwear for the cute factor. Even if there was zero chance of anyone else seeing them, my underwear was an extension of my fashion choices and I wanted it to look nice.  Polka dots.  Lace.  Matchy-matchy bra and panty sets.  I felt a little prettier and a little more put together if I had on cute drawers.  No one but me knew I was sporting pink panties with purple lace, but that somehow impacted the way I carried myself and took on the world.  Maybe that sounds silly, but it was true for me.  Then. 

When the hubs and I were newly dating and the prospect of getting some hommana hommana meow meow seemed ever-present, undies were chosen with care. Hell, even when nooky wasn’t on the immediate horizon, I still wanted to look cute if he happened to see me in the middle of getting dressed or undressed, right? 

As we settled in to married life, parenthood and all of the stressors and time suckers that go with that, I put less thought in to my everyday skivvies. I remembered to put clean ones on and all that, but as I got older, “hey these look like they’d be comfortable” became more of an underwear-choosing criteria than “hey, I bet these would really get the party started in the ole bedroom.” 

Special-occasion underwear got wedged further and further into the recesses of my panty drawer. I’d push the lacy thongs with the little bows aside and think “ain’t nobody got time for that” while digging for something to wear under my yoga pants.  I’d accidentally grab the cute little cheeky shorts that rode up so annoyingly that I never wore them outside the bedroom and sigh “maybe later.” 

As married life evolved, sex became something that happened when we had time or when we found ourselves with the odd night that we didn’t have a little kid wedged between us in bed. Still good, still fun, but with more of a “take it as you can get it” mentality and less thought behind setting the stage with fancy bits of mesh and lace. 

Even though comfort and practicality became the driving choices when I purchased my underwear – usually in packs of six or more at Target – I never went down the dreaded Granny Panty Road. High-waisted, boring cotton briefs were for old ladies or unsexy people.  Even though my colorful hipsters probably weren’t going to win me any prizes in the MILF department, I was still confidently not playing in the granny panty league. 

Until this year.

As much as I hate it, fight it, and try to pretend it isn’t happening, my body is aging. Changing.  Shifting and yes, drooping.  Despite relatively clean eating and reasonable exercise and despite the fact that my jeans still fit the same, my underwear does not.  My mid-menopausal lower belly is a little squishier and a lot less tight… and it was probably really never what I’d call tight in the first place.  Big sigh. 

Nothing is worse than uncomfortable underwear, people. I’ve noticed a lot more bunching, pulling and just things not feeling right in my lingerie department.  I bought myself a few new things, hoping that maybe a new brand or a new size would give me the right level of comfort and coverage and still allow me to keep a little bit of the cute factor that I still thought was important. 

Then I succumbed. I felt a little defeated when I tossed the package with the word “briefs” on it in to my cart.  I hurriedly arranged an assortment of other stuff I bought on top of my new undies so other shoppers wouldn’t see my boring, granny underwear and judge me.  Dumb, right? 

Even though it has truly been a journey of sickness and health and my husband has seen all kinds of unsexy stuff happen, the thought of him seeing me prance around in my new granny panties was depressing.

These thoughts were totally eclipsed when I put my new skivvies on. I swear I heard angels sing.  Maybe it was letting go and giving in to comfort over fashion.  Maybe I really had found the perfect fit for my squishy but still beautiful and functional body. 

Having more comfortable underwear has put my head into a more comfortable space about my changing body… weird as that may sound. My dignity has survived.  I don’t cringe when I see these larger panties in the laundry basket and I don’t cringe at the thought of my husband seeing me prance around in them.  And you know, he doesn’t cringe, either.  Because surprise – he didn’t marry me for my stellar taste in panties.  He married me for who I am.  We’re okay in the hommana hommana meow meow department and whatever unmentionables I pick aren’t a something he worries about… especially when they’re crumpled on the floor beside the bed. 

About the author

Jill Robbins

Jill Robbins

Jill writes about adoption, motherhood and midlife on her blog Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.
She has a degree in social psychology that she uses to try and make sense out of the behavior of her husband and three children but it hasn't really helped so far. She enjoys dry humor and has a love/hate relationship with running. Her writing has also been featured on Huffington Post, Babble, Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, and Mamalode. Jill is a BlogHer 2015 Voice of the Year and willingly answers any questions that end with “and would you like wine with that?” Hang out with Jill on Facebook. and Twitter.

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19 Comments

  • I hate to write this in print but it’s true: i rock out commando A LOT. Particularly with my ‘yoga’ pants. When wearing anything else, I am a LOYAL Hanky Panky enthusiast. ONLY when they are on sale at Nordstrom Rack, though. I end up with a lot of ridiculous pairs of Hanky Panky under-roo’s because of my discount shopping tendencies– weird sports teams that I cannot decipher from football, basketball, etc.–regardless, they are the absolute best and MOST comfortable. I have a case of the ‘i had a c-section so my stomach is forever fucked’ and they work with that.
    Ashley recently posted…Nemours Reading Brightstart ReviewMy Profile

  • I love where you went with this; as a reader, I had a few frozen moments of thinking, “And now comes the part where she returns to her hot undies and realizes that sexy thing still lives within.” I so love your ending: it’s infinitely sexier.
    Jocelyn recently posted…My ThingMy Profile

  • This was great and I had to laugh about covering them in your shopping cart. You and your underwear and me and my Oreos! But only one of our purchases is making us squishier! Your husband sounds delightfully accepting and you of course, deserve nothing less.
    Little Miss Menopause recently posted…You Rock!My Profile

  • I starting out thinking, “Hmmm, I’m not sure I want read about someone else’s panty exploits” BUT I kept reading and I’m glad that I did. I could TOTALLY relate. My parts are definitely squishy after 8 kiddos and nursing bras are my staple. Not to mention, my kids help with the laundry and I’m just not prepared to deal with my 8yo son asking me why/how I wear thongs. Worse yet, I could imagine my little boys thinking they’re a sling shot. Thanks for making me smile.
    Tara Brelinsky recently posted…We’ve Gone Batty Part 2: Outdoor Decor, Party Food, Pippi hair & a Headless HorsemanMy Profile

  • Here is a guy’s point of view …

    I’m 51 and ‘dating’ a young lady of 37 who is, shall we say, a “guest of the state” due to some poor decisions from a few years ago. She recently contacted me and asked me to send her some panties. She said, “Just some Hanes or Fruit of the Loom from Walmart will be fine.” I said, “Absolutely not! I’ll go to Victoria’s Secret.” She protested, “But that’s too expensive and nobody will see them anyway.” I said, “No matter what you wear on the outside for the world to see, when you wear something sexy and feminine, you will FEEL sexy and feminine. Just because you are going to be in jail for a few months, you are still a beautiful, desirable woman and I want you to fell that way.” So, she got some sexy (and practical) VS panties. She told all of the girls in the cell block what I said and, needless to say, they all love me … lol.

  • Comfort and not having panty lines are my goals now. If I want to get my hub to meow my meow I just get naked. So rejoice that you don’t have floss chaffing your tush as you run after a child.

  • I stopped wearing undies years ago. I hate them, I hate wedgies and I hate feeling at all constrained. Some think it’s sexy, some think its gross, I think it’s aahmahhhzing!

  • Granny panties or not, if you’re hot to your husband, you’re HOT. You’re blessed to have a husband that loves you like that. In the age we have now, if you can’t keep your man pleased, he’s gonna leave you. Sad but true. Granny panties are fine. One way or another, you’re bound to wear them anyway. But it won’t hurt to wear something sexy I guess. Improvise maybe? I don’t know. I’m not there yet. But I sure will keep this in mind when I do. Thank you.
    Cassie Hargett recently posted…​Your Guide to Half-Cup BrasMy Profile

  • I’m sorry but I’m going to have to speak up for the naughty knickers. I’ve gone through many stages of the knicker department and whilst I’m all for comfort these days (I am 51 after all) not at the expense of gorgeousness. I firmly believe i can have both. Great underwear and a great haircut are two things not to be skimped on IMHO. Both have the ability to give me a little lift on days when I’m a little down or add a cherry to my cake on an already good day. Like you say my husband doesn’t give two hoots what I wear but he does like me being happy and when I put the good stuff on he knows I’m in a good mood.