My Bra and I: The Connection Between Self-Acceptance and Underwear

By Katie, 5:09 am

No, that title is not meant to be clever; this post really is about underwear. So if you end up thinking it’s TMI, you can’t say I didn’t warn you!

There are a couple of signals in my life that help me see whether or not I’m on track in terms of my relationship with my body. They’re my self-acceptance measuring sticks, if you will. I’m talking about things like my eating habits (hello, Brownie Alert!), my desire for moderate exercise, and – yep, you guessed it! – my underwear.

(Source)

When I first got married, my husband Dave was more than a little appalled at my collection of bras and underwear (sorry, I’m not using the word panties because it gives me the heebie jeebies). His reaction probably stemmed from the fact that the darn things were all old and tattered. I’m talking faded colors, hanging threads, and even holes.

Yes, I wore holy underwear…and I’m not even Mormon. Ha!

Before Dave pointed out this unfortunate state of affairs, I had never thought twice about it. But now I see that the issue wasn’t that I was too cheap to buy decent bras. It wasn’t that I enjoyed wearing frayed underwear. Rather, the problem was that I was lacking quite a bit in the self-respect department. There has always been a direct correlation between the state of my mind and the state of my underthings.

You see, there were years of my life where I simply couldn’t imagine spending money on decent bras and underwear. Those resources needed to go toward shirts and pants and jewelry and makeup – you know, the things that people could see. And by “people,” I mean “other people.” The other people whose judgments and assessments of me meant everything.

Spending money on something that no one but me would see seemed like a total waste.

These days, however, my own opinion means just as much as everyone else’s…maybe even more. How I feel actually matters, even if no one else is looking. So it only seems right to make sure that the garments that are closest to my skin are high quality, regardless of who, if anyone, will see them. It’s my little way of being nice to myself.

I’ve reached a point where I don’t define myself solely by the opinions of others. My self-esteem comes just as much from myself as it does from other people, and I believe that I deserve to take care of myself, to be kind to myself. The proof? It’s in my underwear drawer.

Can anyone relate? Do you see undergarments as a symbol of self-care?

31 Responses to “My Bra and I: The Connection Between Self-Acceptance and Underwear”

  1. This is so interesting. I admit to thinking I don’t want to spend money on underthings that people can’t see. I would rather spend money on a cute outfit. Never thought about it being bec its what others see. I do notice though that I will wear my “nicer” or slightly “sexier” underthings when I feel more body confident though, so I have consciously made an effort to stop that before.

  2. Faith says:

    I’ve always thought that nice underthings helped me walk a little taller and feel a bit better about what was going over the top – even as a young teenager whose mother was appalled at her daughter’s choice of a pink lacy pair instead of the white economy pack of Hanes her Way. But no, I actually agree!

  3. This is really interesting to me, Katie, because recently, I have had a massive hankering to by prettier underwear (panties skeeves me out too!) as well as a desire to buy pretty pajamas. And while I don’t think I have been thinking of these things consciously as it relates to my body image, I do think it has everything to do with it.

    Particularly the PJ’s – I have just been wearing whatever I can scrounge up for as long as I can remember and remember always thinking that pretty PJ’s were a waste of money. And lately, that just hasn’t felt right. I deserve to feel pretty, even if no one else is going to see it!!

    I could go on and on, really, but I won’t take over your blog this morning :D

    • Katie says:

      Haha, you know your insights are always welcome! :)

      I’ve often fought the same battle with PJs, actually. I’d always just wear random shorts and t-shirts, unless I was going on vacation with other people or something…then I felt like my PJs needed to be more stylish or something. It’s just another reminder that I want my clothing to be for ME as much as for anyone else.

  4. Autumn says:

    You know, I have a huge collection of vintage slips that I wear in my home alone, and I’d always looked at that as a form of self-care for the exact reasons you mention–and I think it is. But my bras and undies are in terrible shape! It’s like I’ll do the self-care but only as a private indulgence of some sort, not as something I take with me through my day-to-day life. Interesting–now I want to go bra shopping!

  5. Cat says:

    D’you know, I hadn’t made the connection before. But, thinking about times I’ve been less happy with myself and more happy with myself, I absolutely do this myself.

  6. Sarah says:

    I love cute underwear and bras and pajamas. It sounds silly but wearing cute underthings always makes me smile even if I don’t like my outfit. Don’t hate the cliche but it’s really my little secret :) which brings out an inner happiness which makes me look better than if I was sad wearing designer outfit.
    Plus you can always find cute pajamas at Old Navy or Target on the clearance rack!

  7. I can definitely relate. When I’m not feeling too good, I wear old underthings that almost don’t fit me (probably because I feel big in the smaller stuff that actually does). Putting effort into it means we care about ourselves!

  8. Jen says:

    I never made the connection with underwear and self-confidence. My underwear was/is bad with the exception of stuff I just got with one of those 50 for 25 deals at an underwear website. I also bought some new bras recently. Maybe my confidence is up a bit.

  9. Hmmmmm I fear my answer would be absolute TMI. But I don’t wear bras (I am small and wear tanks with built ins) and I am recently in LOVE with boy short underwear! OH and I HATE the P word lol I never really thought or connected it to self esteem. Interesting!

  10. With my wardrobe – not so much a matter of not having self-respect or doing self-care, but limited funds and doing triage. I’ll replace or supplement whatever portion of my wardrobe seems in most dire straits.

    Bras… about every two years I go and buy a new batch of 7-8, comfort being criteria #1, the way they shape and lift and make my boobs look being #2. I won’t buy a bra, regardless of how sexy it looks or makes the girls look, if it doesn’t feel good against my skin, but I do strive for both comfort AND looks in the bra department, and in slips, chemises, nighties and PJ’s.

    Does anybody else keep a drawer (or section of a drawer) for “period panties,” lol? (Speaking of TMI!)

    • Alexis says:

      Yes. The cheap 6 pack underwear that I happen to wear now. I had lots of them so if they didn’t wash well they went right in the garbage.

  11. I dream of having pretty undergarmets…but am too worried about spending the money…so I make due with two bras (one light and one dark) that I switch out and a dozen pair of undies from Target. But when I do splurge on new stuff every few years, it does feel really good.

  12. Alexis says:

    At the weight I am now I go to the outlet store where I can load up on industrial strength tit harnesses and cotton waisthighs that come in a 6 pack. It’s nearly impossible to find anything that doesn’t bunch or cut into me, let alone looks nice. It was a lot more convinient being a 34C than a 42DD.

  13. McKella says:

    This is a tough one for me. I have a hard time spending out on something no one sees, but I don’t see it that much either. I haven’t bought new sports bras in…five years I think. My “holy underwear” (I am Mormon;)) needs to be replaced. I just don’t think about it, but I don’t think about my actual clothes much until they start getting holes or falling apart.

    • Katie says:

      Yeah, I don’t necessarily think the connection holds true for everyone. But there’s definitely a link there for me, and it was a total lightbulb moment when I figured it out!

  14. Teddi says:

    My aunt used to always tell me that the first step to feeling confident in your clothes is feeling good about what’s underneath them. I guess that could go for your general body and under garments! Also, I am glad I am not the only one who doesn’t like the word “panties”.

  15. I can TOTALLY relate to this!! Although, for me, it goes beyond underwear. I have “feeling good” clothes – nice, new, no stains, no holes, and that make me feel good to wear – and I have “feeling like crap” clothes – 20 years old, stained, ripped, and never going to see the light of day outside my house. How I feel about myself is directly related to which clothes I choose to wear. It also affects whether or not I wear makeup, whether or not I get my hair cut, whether or not I exercise …. I’m sure you get the picture.

  16. Tamara says:

    I really /want/ to buy good bras, but they’re out of range of a grad-student’s budget. $40 for the ones at Victoria’s Secret…so I end up with $16 ones from Target made for teenagers that don’t function as anything other than padding (if you know what I’m getting at). Fortunately, I wear A-cups with room to spare, so I don’t have to worry about support. But the cheap wires and ill-fitting straps do show through my equally cheap shirts. I guess the irony is that if you don’t spend the money, it IS something other people will see!

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  18. Kate says:

    I can relate! I wrote a post about this a few months ago because one of my bras (a bra I’ve had for at least three years, pre-weight gain) was creaking when I walked. I realized I never took the time to pick out nicer underwear was a whole self-care issue I needed to work on.

  19. Sportsgirl says:

    No, I do not see nice underwear as a symbol of self care. For me, I don’t see any purpose in spending money on pretty, frilly things UNLESS it is the most comfortable option. I usually purchase comfortable, strong bras that will last 10 years or more and underwear that my butt won’t eat. I’m all about comfort with underwear and don’t care how it looks!

    • Katie says:

      Then I think we’re actually on the same page…I wasn’t talking so much about how it looks, more about how it FEELS. Hanging threads and holes are generally not comfortable to me.

  20. Meg says:

    This post made me smile and laugh. Before I was married, I don’t think I had any holes in mine… but we’re talking the 3 pack from target. I have waaay sexier underwear now than before I was married. It’s like you have a little secret no one knows but you (same goes for ahem, a good brazillian… ;) )

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