What color underwear are you wearing today?

My daily choices

Mine are dark teal. I’m leaning towards leopard or pink for tomorrow.

I am part of the 35% minority who prefers vibrant color to neutrals when purchasing underwear, according to a survey reported in USA Today in December.

For most of my life, however, I belonged with the 65% majority.  My drab white, beige and grey filled underwear drawer began to transform once I took Sheila Kelley S Factor classes. The classes teach sensual movement, including striptease and pole dancing. After a few weeks of learning a slow workout that felt like a fluid combination of yoga, Pilates  & hula (as well a couple pole tricks I couldn’t master), a stripping technique called ‘peel off’ was introduced.

How was I supposed to feel sexy stripping down to a utilitarian white bra?  It had nothing to do with how I looked. Okay, maybe a little. But we, several classmates and I, danced in a dark windowless room, lit only by dim recessed ceiling lights and a diffuse red glow from two corner lamps. We were encouraged to keep our eyes closed during much of class, focusing more on how the movements felt. The only person watching was the instructor, who had informed us to consider her our mirror since there weren’t any of those in the room either.

I wanted to wear something under my tinker-bell shirt and workout shorts that felt sexy and pretty because I’d felt wisps of that while dancing and longed for more.

One day after class, I drove to Lane Bryant. As a plus-sized woman, I couldn’t buy bras or underwear in Macy’s or Nordstrom’s because they didn’t carry my size. I’d been buying my underthings from outlets for years. Lane Bryant’s cacique intimates pleasantly surprised me in color, pattern and style selection. I left with a hot pink bra, sheer leopard panties with black lace trim and a cotton set in leopard print of aqua, purple and black.

At first, I only wore them on class days and special occasions, like a rare night out. As the neutrals wore out, they were replaced with pink, leopard and black lace. Over time, the special occasions became more common, like when I needed an energy boost after a late or sleepless night. Divine purple, passionate red lace, and cool aquas and teals joined the mix.

I chuckled when I first read the USA Today article. I sobered as I skimmed comments, particularly those that called the research “frivolous” or worse, “a waste of money.”

I hope one day 100% of women surveyed, not fewer than half, report “feeling sexier and more confident wearing a nice or special pair of panties.”

Unfortunately, shyness and embarrassment regarding under-garments begins young. During the summer, I chatted with my seven-year-old niece on Skype.  We chatted about her favorite colors.  Then she asked me mine.   For a moment I was stumped, then replied:

“When I was your age, it was pink.  Hot Pink. I even painted my room that color.  Then it changed to blue.   I loved wearing blue because of how it brightened my eyes.  And it reminded me of pools and oceans.  And summer.  But right now, my favorite color changes based on my mood. Like today it’s red. I woke up tired, but wanted to feel passionate and strong so when I got dressed I put on my favorite red underwear.”

My niece giggled and fidgeted in her chair. “We can’t talk about THAT!”

“What?”

“The color of  our underwear,” she whispered, leaning closer to the computer.

“Why not? We can talk about the color of our clothes, even our socks.  Why not our underwear? It’s just clothes under our clothes.”

“I don’t know!” She giggled again.

“It’s not like I’m going to show you what I’m wearing.  Oh, but wait. Uncle Brian did laundry.  I CAN show you.  I’ll be right back.”

I walked out back, grabbed a small blue plastic drying rack, which had my favorite undergarments drying in the sun.

“See?”  I showed her the rack and pointed out some of my favorite pairs.

I wondered where the idea came from that talking about underwear was off-limits.  Hush-hush.  They’re even called unmentionables, though I can’t recall ever using that term before. Still, I hoped I wasn’t damaging her psyche.  Would she grow up promiscuous because her pole dancing aunt from California talked about, and gasp, showed her sexy skivvies? Mostly, I worried my brother and sister-in-law might be upset.

When we visited at Christmas, I realized I’d worried for nothing.  My niece is quite the fashionista.  She dressed with a flair neither her mom nor I possessed.  Though we do share a love of leopard.  Still, when she asked to see pole dancing pictures of me on my computer, I hesitated because some of them did show me clad only in bra and panties.  My brother walked in as she asked, “Please, can’t I see?”  He assured me, “It’s fine with me as long as you’re okay with it.” I felt a little shy, but showed her anyway.

I believe femmes of any age should be able to talk about the color of their underwear without shame. Besides, I wanted my niece to be clued in to the secret power.

I’m not sure when it happened, but choosing my underwear became a daily intention setting ritual. It only takes an extra second, but I choose based on how I feel or how I want to feel. If I feel anxious or unfocused, I might choose teal because it calms and soothes me.  If I feel girly, it’s pink.  If I want to feel elegant, it’s black lace.   If I feel a little wild, you can bet it’s leopard.

So, now that you know about this secret sexy power, the real question is:  What color (or style or pattern) will you wear tomorrow?

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