When I was in high school, a friend of mine stared deliberately at my boobs and told me that they could "look so much better" if I "just got the right bra." Mortified, I reacted by immediately flocking to the mall to buy this "right" bra — not a well-fitting one, mind you, but one of the ones this friend told me I had to have. Unlike my usual fare, this bra had a loud print, hiked Thunder and Lightning (my boobs) up several inches past their natural state, and gave me (gasp) my first-ever cleavage. I stared at myself in the dressing room mirror, feeling at 16 that I had finally ~arrived~.
Sure, it was uncomfortable, and it left marks on my arms and back, but I wore that damn thing every other day for a year until it snapped. When I got to college, I started sinking into my already fairly meager funds from my part-time job to buy myself all kinds of cheap matching bras and panties, thongs and brassieres, that ultimately were sources of anxiety for my ever-changing teenage body and eventually got shoved into the back of my drawer, a forgotten waste of my money and time.
Today, in contrast, I own exactly two bras. One is black, and one matches my skin tone. I put very little thought into which one I grab in the morning, if I even bother to grab one at all (#bless, sweater weather). Every single pair of underwear in my drawer is a cotton "granny panty" that is either pink or has some kind of festive print your great aunt Peggy would think was really cute. I keep my bras and my underpants until some kind of massive hole or defect forces my hand to throw them away. In other words, when it comes to undergarments, I am quite possibly the most boring person alive.
That being said, I am also quite content. I don't foresee myself ever wearing lingerie again, and here is my reasoning behind it:
It Wasn't My Idea To Wear It In The First Place
I never independently sought out lingerie as something that interested me. A lot of people who enjoy wearing lingerie sought it out for their own personal enjoyment or empowerment, but I was definitely in the camp that only succumbed to it because of a perceived peer pressure. My college dorm mates were constantly comparing lingerie they'd bought on sale, and I was immediately branded as the "baby" of the group for not owning any myself. My college crush and eventual first boyfriend seemed to think of it as a staple, and was surprised by my blanket rejection of thongs and "sexy" underwear. We all had a constant anxiety in those years to "belong," and for me, buying and wearing lingerie was one easy fix to temporarily soothe it.
It Really Is Expensive AF
Even "cheap" lingerie puts you out an obscene number of bottles of Two Buck Chuck. There are plenty of things I indulge in monetarily — fancy cheese, movie tickets, fancy notebooks, and pens. To me, fancy bras and panties are one more thing standing between me and seeing Star Wars a fifth time (IN IMAX!!). For the people who use their extra ~spending cash~ for lingerie, power to ya, because the glory of adulthood is spending money on the things that make you happy. But for me, it never made me happy enough to justify a chunk of change that could have been a chunk of cheese.
Barely Anybody Ever Gets To Admire Them Anyway
For the ordinary lingerie user, once you've shown it off to your roommate, your sister, and your significant other... it's over. The magic is gone. The smug thrill of "look at this thing I got on SALE" is stolen from you. Unless you end up doing a boudoir shoot like some baller ladies at Bustle did to preserve its magic, or have some other use for your lingerie that immortalizes it, the game usually ends just about as quickly as it begins.
I Don't Feel Confident When I'm Uncomfortable
Personally, I feel my most at ease in any kind of situation when I'm wearing things that feel comfortable on my body — and for me, comfort just happens to be cotton underwear and stretchy, unpadded bras. Whereas some people feel perfectly at ease in lingerie, it always distracts me. The thongs are constantly riding up your butt, or your boobs are popping out of the bra, or you can feel it cutting into you at an awkward angle every time you breathe. I was so hyper aware while wearing lingerie that I would take other, decidedly much more enjoyable activities associated with them for granted — which for me, ultimately kind of defeated the point.
They're Basically Impossible To Wash
I am secure enough in myself and my sexuality that I would not be embarrassed to display some baller brassieres at the laundromat, but I am certainly not ambitious enough to make it happen. "Hand wash" and "dry clean only" are basically four-letter words to my lifestyle. It's a GD miracle that I even manage to get out of my apartment door with the veritable mountain of my laundry, let alone account for any little lost soldiers that could potentially get wrecked in one drying cycle.
The Way I Perceive Lingerie Doesn't Align With The Way I Perceive Myself
Lingerie can be a lot of things depending on whom you're asking: powerful, aesthetically pleasing, even comfortable. For me, I've always associated lingerie with wanting to feel sexy. It makes people feel sexy for their own benefit or for a partner's mutual enjoyment, and both of those motivations can be empowering and fulfilling for people who use lingerie that way.
But I don't necessarily enjoy the idea of trying to feel sexy. I consider myself an attractive person with many awesome qualities (#swag), but I don't count "sexy" among them — and I honestly don't mind that one bit. Judging by friends' well-meaning reactions when I've said such things in the past, it might sound like I'm being down on myself — "sexiness" is a commodity to us, even unconsciously — but I'm truly not. I know who I am, and I like myself that way. Lingerie is just one of many things that doesn't fit with my vision of myself, the same way I'll probably never watch The Big Lebowski or learn how to properly cook vegetables.
Of course, my experience with lingerie is far from representative of other humans' experiences. For many, it's a celebration of their bodies, a way to treat themselves, a means of empowerment, or even just a fun cute thing to have in the back of your drawer for a rainy day. I support people who wear lingerie for all those reasons and more — but personally, I'm gonna be wearing out my trusty old granny panties until the end of time.
Images: Kathryn Kattalia/Bustle; Giphy