Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Case Against "Panties"

With Valentine's Day coming up, I've been forced to read and hear my least favorite word in the English language: panties. When I see a Victoria's Secret commercial and that announcer with the English accent starts talking about "Victooorriaaaa's Seeecret Annnnual Paaaahnty Sale" I just want to curl up in a ball and hide. Something about that word is just so irritating. It's supposed to be sexy but it really just sounds childish and overly cutesy (can you imagine the type of grown woman who says "I found the cutest pair of panties yesterday") and there's something vaguely disturbing about that. Then there's the phrase "granny panties" which kind of doubles the icky connotations.

I know I'm not the only one who feels this way... many of my female friends also cringe upon hearing the word. I rarely hear it spoken in conversation, except by men who like how girly it sounds. And yet lingerie companies insist upon using it, and magazines and television shows (and even many blogs) also use it to describe "women's undergarments." Yeah, that phrase is pretty awful too, but it seems like the official term. The British prefer knickers, which I kind of like (although knickers sounds vaguely historical, like pantaloons), but I don't expect it to catch on in the U.S. anytime soon.

Underwear happens to be my noun of choice. When someone refers to underwear I think of this:

Functional, comfortable, practical, comes in nude, black or occasionally light pink. Does not ride up or itch or feel strange under jeans. Is not embarrassing to ask mom to wash.

The word "Panties"(*shudder*) makes me think of this:

Frilly, lacy, super girly. Limited fabric and coverage. Not practical or comfortable. Male undergarment of choice (for women). Not warn to work, class, the gym or to run errands (unless you have something really special planned after). Color choices overwhelmingly lean toward hot pink, red and black. Not brought home for mom to wash.

Of course, there's a time and place for "panties" like the one I just described. Valentine's Day is a pretty constructed, artificial excuse to try to look especially sexy, but if you're into the Hallmark holidays, you probably are interested in receiving or wearing panties on that day. Do what makes you happy.

I'm not interested in outlawing undergarments like these, I'm just advocating that the word "panties" not be used at all, and if it must continue, to only describe the frilly, pretty, itty-bitty things usually saved for special occasions. Marketers and advertisers, lingerie and departments stores and men worldwide: please take note.


Annie said...

I whole-heartedly agree with you! The P-word sends shivers down my spine. What is it about that word? It's so innocuous and dumb, but it seems to make women dumb by association. Not that undies need to be all-business all the time, but why something so silly to name something that does so much?

class-factotum said...

Underpants. That's what I call them. I like the way the word rolls trippingly off the tongue.

Anonymous said...

I don't like "underpants" "underwewar" OR "panties."


What I really want is to find something that
1) elimates VPL
2) isn't a thong (nothing against thongs, I wear them, but want something different)
3) isn't low-rise. I'm fairly thin but I hate the idea of my little tummy hanging out over the top of a low-rise waistbad.


Anonymous said...

Ok, I meant to type "underwear" and not "underwewar." But you probably figured that out :)

Meg said...

Hey Anon,

Next week I'll have a post on underwear that fits all the criteria you're looking for, so be sure to check back!


GirlPaint said...

I used to hate the word 'panties' until a chef (and good friend..what a character) that worked for my husband and I used the word incessantly. I have grown to love it, not sure why, but its like a Justin Timberlake song (for me), it just grows on you. Since you don't care for 'panties' (as a word, not a garment), and underpants or underwear seems to connotate a bland image, try 'underpinnings'. It's a lovely word! And brings to mind pretty, white, feminine undies.

Auntie Claire said...

I've also heard them called Vickies, as in Victoria's Secret. To me, "Vickies" conjure the frilly, lacy offerings at Victoria's. My friend, on the other hand, thought Vickies sounded masculine and utilitarian, as in Dickies. But you'd have to wear Vickies or something similar with a pair of Dickies since they're cut so low. Please don't be that person who wears their Dickies with a pair of granny pannies.

Christie said...

I agree completely! I feel almost nauseated when I hear the word "panties." It just has such an awful sound to it. I DJ a weekly girl-rock radio show on my campus station, and I feel so strongly about the word that I titled my show "Never Say Panties." Granted, this means that I have to say the word every week. I'm just hoping the message will get across.

Meg said...

Ug, I don't like the word "panties" either. To me, underwear are "undies" or "underwear". My favorite that I am recommending to all my girl friends are microfiber boy-short-cut undies. I get mine at Target and they are sooooo comfy. Plus in nude and black they blend in seamlessly under just about anything. No more thongs or g-strings - unless I feel particularly frisky ;)

peanut said...

"Drawers" is a cute word, and can be pronounced "draw-rers." It is not overly girly, and seems to have a sort of nude-wink appeal, as well as reminding one of the South and/or African-American talk. Plus, it's just real classy.