I've always wanted breasts. I never got them. In my early teens I'd try on one of mother's bikinis. I'd wear coral lipstick and prophesy, "By this time next year, I'll fit into this!" She no longer has that pink-and-white striped bathing suit, but if she did, I still wouldn't fit into it. Well, I wouldn't fit into the top. The bottoms were snug and shapely -- even back then. But I didn't care about bottoms at the time. Who cares about bottoms? A girl needs breasts to be a woman.
It was my sophomore year of college when I started to gain an appreciation for my body below the belly button. It wasn't me but rather Pat Bozeman who set me on this course. I was at an SAE party standing in a circle with Pat and two other frat boys du jour when he kindly asked me to turn around. I was naïve and thoroughly confused, so I did it. He proceeded to compliment my backside and asked his friends to weigh in. They both grunted in accord. I realized what was happening and turned back around quickly, thinking, "Oh that's classless! But really, you think I have a nice ass?"
Up until that point, the phrase "nice ass" was an empty one to me. I had heard it tossed around on television and shouted across the street, but it wasn't a compliment I gave much credence to or had any desire to hear. Beautiful face, pretty smile, nice eyes, sexy legs -- those I understood. They are necessary components of attraction. It was news to me that maybe -- just maybe -- this part of the body was, too.
Up until that point, one thing that bothered me about buying underwear was my size-medium status. I tried and tried again to wear small, but it was an inevitable struggle. I thought it was a great injustice because I am a skinny girl, and skinny girls get to wear small things. My recently enlightened eyes, however, enabled me to see that I'm perfectly disproportionate. My hips are wide for my frame, and my derrière is on the big side. Disproportion is what makes my ass "nice." Accepting this truth was liberating. Being newly proud of my derriere made the intimate apparels section a bright and sunny place.
Keep in mind that I was in college, so I didn't start splurging on Agent Provocature or even Victoria's Secret. No, I was happy at Daffy's and Macy's. I can't say exactly what goes into choosing a perfect pair of panties. Sometimes it's the pattern -- cherries get me every time. Sometimes it's the little peephole in the back with a tiny bow on top. It can even be the colors -- I find black with a pink trim to be the ultimate in sophistication. Like any visceral attraction, you know it when you see it.
Naturally I have my favorites. Somewhere within the lot of cotton, lace, and maybe even leather underpants, there are bound to be two or three pairs that stand out from the rest. Watching these special pairs emerge from the wash clean and ready to wear is invigorating each time. You don't choose your favorite pairs of panties, though. They choose you.
I've had many favorites through the years -- a pair with deep red hearts, black and white stripes, yellow and light blue gingham, grey with a soft pink border. Wash and wear has been my silent motto. I want to get the most out of my precious panties. A VIP (P as in pair) has a life span of a few months. Around that time, too many spins in the washing machine will start taking their toll.
I've spent the past decade loving and leaving underwear behind -- adoring them one day and being over them the next. There's always a sexy new pair to indulge. But my youth is coming to a close. As I prepare to exit my roaring twenties, I'm ready for a more serious relationship. I want something meaningful and lasting. Dare I say, I think I found it?
A few weeks back I spent a sunny afternoon reunited with a friend. Our day together coincided with the Victoria's Secret semi-annual sale. She went after the bras, and we know where I went. I bounced gleefully from medium panty bin to medium panty bin. Nothing struck my fancy, and I was ready to call it a day. Then I saw her. She was a pink, cream and white vision -- embroidered with lace and made with luscious mesh in the middle. Marked down to $10. She looked like a bundle of cherry blossoms made to conceal my bottom the way bundled leaves concealed Adam and Eve's. This pair is different from all those that have gone before. I treat her like the delicacy she is, wearing her only on special occasions. I'd put her in a glass display case if I could.
I still wouldn't mind having breasts. They would fit fabulously into bathing suits and cocktails dresses alike. They are magnificent accessories. But there are plenty of occasions when I'm glad I don't have them (i.e., when I'm walking to the mailbox, or anywhere really, without a bra, and especially when I'm running). The asset (pun intended) that I do have, however, also fits quite nicely into bikinis, sundresses, jeans and tennis skirts. Longing for something you don't have is okay -- it keeps you humble -- but learning to love what you do have is time better spent.
The Underwear Diaries Project is a multi-faceted project that shines light on cervical cancer and HPV in an unforgettable way, by asking women of all levels of influence and affluence to flash their favorite pair of panties for a cause. For more information visit Flash4ACause.com.
The above is an essay that I wrote for the project.