Thongs and Other Weapons of Crotch Destruction

A hilarious new memoir by Lalita Iyer, The Whole Shebang: Sticky Bits of Being a Woman, includes a chapter on women’s underwear woes. Here’s an excerpt.

By Lalita Iyer

From the time I left school (when all my underwear decisions or the lack of them were my mother’s), I have been looking for a decent pair of panties that are not welt-inducing, that have enough fabric to cover my vagina and both buttocks, that come in happy colours, stay in place and don’t wander off, pinch, wedge or hurt me in any way.

If research estimates the woman’s underwear market in India at a whopping 11 crores (I am not usually good at dropping statistics like this, but this number stayed with me), why on earth is it so difficult for me to find a decent pair of panties? I can’t believe that India’s designers are making clothes for Michelle Obama and Judi Dench and yet no one has seen this huge gap in the market and has ventured into making well-designed, well-fitting, comfortable panties.

I have tried everything from the Rs 50 a piece to Rs 799 (the most I ever paid for something to cover my crotch), I have tried low waist, high waist, bikini, comfort, seamless, shorts, and always felt that perhaps it was my body and its sudden ampleness that made it complicated.

I can’t say I was relieved to find that everyone had the same issues. Except that, like the bra solidarity brigade, no one was talking about it. Imagine if men had underwear issues! There would be war.

During my pregnancy I switched to wearing men’s underwear and realised how comfortable they were. I was also envious how men simplistically fit into two boxes – boxers and briefs. But then I was told men have their own issues about underwear, but let someone else write about that.

Initially, when you are still this gawky person who has just started to have an income and are struggling with non-issues like visible panty line, you will find a friend who says, “Have you tried thongs? They are the best. You feel like you are wearing nothing.”

Everyone falls for this and it’s absolutely untrue and everyone wonders if they are the only ones who feel like they have got a permanent wedgie or their butts are being flossed constantly.

But no woman dares to say that thongs make her truly squirm.

Thongs used to be things you are supposed to wear when you are hoping (or planning) to get some action. Except I would usually take them off before I got the action, that is how torturous they were. If thongs were unbearable, there came crotchless panties. If this is what it took to get action, I don’t want any of it.

And besides, men don’t really give a shit about what kind of panties you are wearing. They are just grateful you want to take them off for them.

I believe thongs must be weapons of torture in some parts of the world. If ordinary panties give you a wedge, thongs take it to another level. Because here, there is certainly something that is planted between your buttocks which is threatening to migrate into your innards, given enough time.

The other problem (however basic) I have with thongs is not being able to tell the front side from the rear. Why should this be so hard without the label?

Also, wearing thongs is not as easy breezy as those lingerie models make it seem. There’s this constant strange sensation of fresh (or not so fresh) air on your bottom when they’re worn with skirts or dresses. You feel naked and not in a good way.

The Whole Shebang_Finnal Cover_frontLast I heard, more and more men are opting to have sex with women who believe in comfort over style. The thong – once the epitome of sexy lingerie – is on the decline among young women; more and more of them choose full-coverage, often high-waisted underwear. Maybe granny panties will bring another kind of sexy back.

Bloody hell! After I wasted my youth on the blasted things.

Excerpted from The Whole Shebang: Sticky Bits of Being a Woman with permission from Bloomsbury. Read the October 2017 issue of eShe magazine for free here.

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