Blogathon: 10th Hour


Moving up into double digits!

I hope you all have been donating. You use the little button over there on the right, that also shows where we’re at in terms of getting to our goal. Remember today is the last day of SSA week, so it’s make it or break it time!

Also, I am still prepared to take requests. So you’ve donated, and there’s something you’d like to hear my thoughts on, don’t hesitate to let me know!

So long as we’re on the subject of words I totally, completely hate, like “junkie” and “prostituted women”, there’s one that never fails to totally creep me out: “panties”.

It hits this wonderful, perfect storm of ickiness by being simultaneously infantilizing AND sexually objectifying. Truly a rare achievement in terms of creepy words.

They are underwear. Can we all just accept that by now? Underwear. Undies, if you must, but please, please not “panties”.

Without a doubt THE most uncomfortable shopping experience of my entire life was my first time buying girl underwear. I was still boymode at the time. But, see, I needed underwear (at least bras) in order to start part-timing, let alone go full-time. You can’t really tuck with boy underwear, since they’re specifically designed to provide some room in that particular area. I no longer needed the room (I sometimes like to say everything became “fun size”), I no longer had any gametes that needed temperature management, and I was frankly getting sick of boy underwear anyway. They made me feel gross and decidedly NOT feminine.

But I was not yet full-time.

I went with a friend of mine, with the understanding that if things got weird, we’d pretend that we were dating. I sort of needed her help anyway, since I had pretty much NO idea what I was doing, and bra-shopping to someone who’s never done it before feels a bit like conducting brain surgery in the cabin of an experimental rocket with only a greek instruction manual for reference. I knew my sizes, more or less, after buying a tape measure and consulting Ye Olde Internet, but translating that into an actual lycra-spandex reality was a different matter entirely.

However, we ended up picking EXACTLY the wrong store. La Senza. One of those women’s underwear specialty shops like Victoria’s Secret, but this one was specifically geared for a younger (teenage and college-age) demographic. They were having a pretty great sale, though. Which is important to take advantage of when you’re trying to build an entire wardrobe from scratch with an extremely limited budget.

What was horrible, though, was that the store made very, very liberal use of the word “panties”. BUY THREE PAIRS OF PANTIES FOR $25!!! SILK PANTIES TWO FOR ONE!!! DESIGNER PANTIES!!! LOOK AT THESE PANTIES OVER HERE!!! PANTIES! PANTIES!! PANTIES!!!

Making matters worse was that in order to find the correct size, you had to look through drawers underneath the display items.

So there I was, someone who LOOKED like a 20-something man (albeit at this point a very androgynous 20-something man), in a store full of teenage girls, pawing through drawers full of “panties”.

They couldn’t possibly have made me feel more like a “sick” “pervert” even if that were the sole purpose of the store’s existence.

In retrospect, I should have just gone to Sears.

Sears just sells underwear.



  1. Emily Aoife Somers says

    AHAHAHAH. Le Senza was my first place for buying knickers w/ a supportive cis friend. What a disaster. We ended up at The Bay.

  2. Emily Aoife Somers says

    VERY similar experience: place was mobbed with late teen experimenting with their sexuality through lace-trimmed sexiness. Underwear and bras were heaped into these bins that had lost all semblance of organisation through crowds of nitpickers tossing flimsy cotton to and fro looking for the right size. I felt like one of those arcade claw machines with my boy-claw picking through the piles looking not just for my size — but something functional. I was not looking for panties. I was looking to start a new wardrobe. My cis-friend was nice, but she doesn’t speak English well and freaks out in crowds, so she was already uncomfortable. Staff members didn’t help — they seemed not to care at all the gender of the buyer, just so long as I kept buying more. The non-English dialogue between my friend and I just seemed to incense them — like I was telling her some coded fantasy involving women’s underwear. I didn’t care so much that everyone worked out I was buying for me, but that I couldn’t find a decent, affordable set for the cost of my embarrassment.

    Most embarrassing: I was 14 and, as my habit, infiltrating the girl’s section of Dunne’s, flipping through a discount rack of basic white blouses with the small rounded collar that, to my school uniform mind, symbolised Irish girlhood. I must have got lost in my typical day dream of ‘who I wish I was’ because I didn’t notice the gaggle of city girls behind me having a huge laugh at my expense. “Picking out a nice blouse, are you?” I had been caught out. And there are few things Irish people enjoy more than public ridicule. It was the first time I had the term “big girl’s blouse” applied to me. I can make myself nauseous just recalling that moment.

      • Joven says

        Jebus tap dancing clown farting assbutt, if its going to ninja-embed when I dont want it to (and like it didnt on the other link..) the least it could have done was go to the right time like its supposed to.

        Fucking youtube, how does it work.

        • says

          The embedding is caused by the blog software (WordPress), which translates links that reference a page containing certain objects into the HTML tags that actually embed it.

          Now, the question of why the first link doesn’t get translated is a good one. Probably a pattern-matching failure in the code that processes the links, if I had to guess. It’s very specialized code and doesn’t work for just any random site as it is.

  3. says

    Wow, it’s cool reading about that from somebody else. I just got to the underwear buying portion of my transition, earlier this week. I’d suspected it was stressful and embarrassing for others too, but it was good to hear it from somebody else. Nobody ever talks about that part.

  4. Seb says

    Thank you so much for this, Natalie. I can’t stand the word (if it is, even, a word… um… the diminutive?) either, but I could never articulate exactly what it was that creeped me out so much.

    It hits this wonderful, perfect storm of ickiness by being simultaneously infantilizing AND sexually objectifying.

    UGH. An ex-boyfriend of mine used to use that word to describe the underwear I was wearing (I should probably note here that I’m a trans man, and this was pre-transition), and I would instantly want to hurl. Oh, and then hurl something at him. I can’t say that the feminising language helped his cause, but my main point of concern was the sheer ickiness of it. At least I never have to hear it directed at me again, but I feel for all women who have to deal with it… ugh, just ugh.

    No embarrassing or funny stories about my first time buying men’s underwear, sorry. I just picked up a three-pack of black boxer briefs at the supermarket (and hoped they fit – I did a lot of buying without trying to start with!). I was shitting myself when it came to paying for them, in that what-if-they-realise-they’re-for-me kinda way, but nothing. I guess it’s more expected that female-looking people buy pants for the men in their lives than vice versa.

    • mikaelvejdemo johansson says

      «I did a lot of buying without trying to start with!»

      I do that a lot right now; and I’m not even particularly queer — just started feeling like wearing skirts after trying on my wife’s for a LARP role. It’s a comfortable piece of clothing, and I like the gender-bending / anti-kyriarchy undertones I perceive in the act of wearing a skirt as an otherwise very privileged person…

      But it really did take until I was shopping in the Haight, while wearing skirts, until I could bring myself to try before buying.

  5. says


    lulz. this post makes me giggle!

    it’s totally a nervous giggle, though, cuz it reminds me of my quest for colorful underwear. see, once beneath a time, this dfab trans* person wanted lime green underwear (still! do!)– so i went to some girly underwear store. at the time, i wasn’t binding my chest and i was going through my one-and-only fem phase. so i was wearing this girly little shirt (uuuurgh) with these tight jeans and my tits were sticking out to HERE. but i was certain that everybody KNEW i was dfab trans* and that i was just trying out fem for shits and giggles.

    so this sales person walked over to me while i was digging sheepishly through racks of little lacy things and said, “excuse me, what size is your girlfriend? i can help you pick out something she’ll love!”


    i sorta blocked out the rest– i bought something random, tossed it in the garbage, and drowned myself in tea. i mean, did she think i was a trans* woman? or maybe a lesbian? ???

    lol! just thought i’d share– your story is so awesome, it sorta makes me revel in some of the bizarre/awkward experiences i’ve had.

    also, i loathe the word “panties.” cuz ew.

    • says

      i just realized that my comment is worded so horribly as to make it seem that i have a problem with trans* women and trans*/cis lesbians. oops… i was just confused about the whole thing cuz i’m not used to people assuming i’m dmab rather than dfab.

      also, my comment implies that i think trans* women can’t be lesbians. i guess i should’ve written “dmab trans*/butch cis lesbian”. anyway, i still don’t know what the salesperson was thinking.

      sorry for all the fail.

        • says

          “Your comment simply reads to me that you felt misgendered in a way you weren’t prepared for”

          yes! this is exactly what i was so clumsily trying to communicate last night. thanks, cat!

  6. sjrosewater says


    Never before now had I realized “panties” was an infantilization of the “underpants”. And now…now I share your contempt for it intimately.

  7. betweenthesedays says

    I’m cis-gender and I hate the p word. I come from a long line “panty” haters…though I don’t think any of us can articulate why. If pressed I’d say because the word claws at my ears until it’s squick inducing texture makes me want to crawl out of my skin. It makes me outwardly cringe.

    I think you’ve hit on something though….infantilizing and objectifying all at the same time. Panties…ugh, how ridiculous can you get?

    Count me among those who insist on calling them underwear regardless of who they’re for.

  8. Kate S says

    You are the first person I’ve ever come across who hates that word as much as I do, though I’ve never really understood why it makes me so uncomfortable. Thank you for articulating it so perfectly!

  9. says

    I can’t stand “panties” either, but for me it has extra Americanism attached to the cutesy ick factor. Is it common in Canada, too?

    I’d normally say pants or undies. Or occasionally knickers (a bit British, that one) or grundies or underdaks (totally Aussie). CAUTION: do not believe everything you read on the web about Australian slang. We also like telling porkies to the nongs.

  10. Happiestsadist says

    “Panties” is just such a creepy, infantilizing ICKY word. Do not want. Underwear, drawers, shorts, but not panties!

    La Senza is so not a fun experience. Even when I IDed as a cis woman, it was stressy and bad. (Aerie, incidentally, is the best place for feminine underthings, in my experience, in terms of quality and price and not being a hive of awkwardness.)

  11. says

    The fact the word “panties” (which I also despise)exists makes me feel weird when I refuse to say it and say “underpants” instead. Absurdly, I end up thinking that it somehow reveals that I spent much of my life living as a man… so I end up feeling awkward using any word at all to talk about those particular undergarments… (see, it’s happening now in this stupidly awkward comment)

  12. embertine says

    As A Brit I naturally cringe when I hear “panties”, for all the reasons you stated and because it is one of the weirder Americanisms I know and I can’t get used to it.

    I generally say knickers, referring to both male- and female-targeted underwear. But then, I only realised this year that the “liar liar pants on fire” thing probably refers to trousers, not underpants as I originally thought.

  13. says

    This word actually crossed the Pacific some time ago. If you use PANTSU in Japan, it refers to the undergarment, not pants. That one made my head spin for a while.

    Then again, many loan words in Japanese are bizarre.

  14. AylaSophia says

    Ugh. Not a nice experience. And I concur on “panties.” Even when I was a kid I never used it; “undies” was the preferred term in my house, and now I usually just go with “underwear.” As an American living in Ireland for the past 5 years, I’m slowly getting used to “pants” for underwear, and I say it myself sometimes (though “knickers” still feels too phony to me.) This was accelerated when I started dating an Irish man. Once, after he’d stayed over at my place, he asked me in the morning “Where are my pants?” I handed him his jeans. He replied “Uh, no. My… other pants.”

  15. says

    I’m kinda in the middle on ‘panties’ really.

    I hate it for the same reasons you point out, on top of this bizarre pedo-ish vibe it has… but at the same time I hate all of the other words for them too, with a different reason for each word. ‘Undergarments’ and ‘underpants’ sound overly proper in a way that kind of creeps me out, ‘underwear’ in particular sounds incredibly unaesthetic to me, and while I don’t understand why I have an absolute hatred for words like ‘knickers’.

    So I tend to alternate between ‘underwear’ and ‘panties’ depending on the context and just bear with the respective ick factors.

  16. says

    I never had a problem with that word, and still don’t. :p

    My first shopping experiences weren’t loaded with so much fear and shame. I always got comments about how sweet I am to not only buy ‘my girlfriend’ clothes/lingerie, but to actually spend time actually choosing them myself.

    In a few isolated instances where I felt it wouldn’t be too risky, I even corrected them that I’m buying for myself.


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