I have never cared about underwear.
I don’t know if I liked it or hated it or anything, I just viewed it as utilitarian. You have to wear it, and sometimes it has cute colors or patterns.
I mean, at almost three hundred pounds they’re not that cute and really served no purpose (for me) other than having a barrier between clothes and skin.
They were just something you bought, like socks or toothpaste.
I bought multi packs of Hanes or Fruit of the Loom or whatever was there, size large or extra large, I don’t know, I really didn’t care.
My hippest underwear shopping finds were these lace trimmed satin-ish ones from Target that were about $5 a pair. Every time we did laundry, Steve would tease me about my “weird granny panties that are trying to be sexy” and then I’d ball them up in a drawer because, whatever.
Immediately after my vertical sleeve surgery, I lived in yoga pants (still kinda do!), long sleeve t-shirts/zip ups and sports bras. When the promise of losing something like seventy percent of your excess weight is there, you’re not dropping a lot of coin on clothes; mostly because you’re going to go through them faster.
I bought inexpensive things, wore things until they were comically big, and of course had my eye on some stores I’d never shopped in.
I’m about a year post op when I decide that my Champion sports bras are over. This can’t be a thing that goes on forever, but I have no idea where to shop for anything (still sort of true!) so I take to a post op group I am part of on Facebook and ask where any of them are getting their bras.
A resounding mention of “Victoria’s Secret” and I laugh out loud, in my living room at the responses.
Also a store called Soma, so I force myself to drive around the mall parking lot for about half an hour before I find a parking spot, resist buying an Auntie Anne’s pretzel (which I can only eat half of anyway) and make my way to the store.
Fluorescent lighting, me in leggings and a bra with a stranger.
I didn’t like it, the bras that is.
The sizing was off, the bras felt weird and I was getting hot and uncomfortable taking things on and off.
She brought me so many things to try and after about a dozen I was like fuck this, I hate all of these.
I felt like I looked like an old lady. I still felt fat. I felt awkward. And I felt like if I was gonna give a shit about the bras or underwear I was wearing, I should really like them. Otherwise why bother breaking away from the basic stuff.
I thanked her and left.
A little hot, a little tired, and if we’re honest, a little defeated.
On my way back to the parking lot I passed Auntie Anne’s again, debated the pretzel and then saw the pink glow of Victoria’s Secret.
Maybe I’ll go in.
Nobody has to know.
I walked by twice before finally walking in, and not thirty seconds into the half dozen dressers spilling out eighty different types of underwear, a woman approached me.
She’s gonna ask me to leave.
She’s gonna know I don’t belong here.
I should just go.
Turn around, just leave.
Turns out she just wanted to help.
Oh, in that case, hey Linda, let me tell you my life story!
She listens. She nods.
Next thing you know, we’re in the dressing room which is so pink and black and fancy I’m feeling a bit like a dirt bag in my leggings and combat style boots, but I’m open.
She has a measuring tape and an armful of bras. She asks what style I prefer.
Uhhhh, the ones that keep my boobs from flopping all over?
I later find out my preference is actually the Body by Victoria Demi – as I am checking out with two of them, and a half dozen pair of underwear. (I can’t call them panties, I’m almost 40)
The cashier does the normal “Are you paying with your Angel card today?” thing and I beam inside, like, she thinks I shop here, she doesn’t sense that I’m some awkward, less fat person who has never been in this glittery floored haven before except to buy perfume for my sister-in law for Christmas.
Naturally I say no and she asks me if I’d like to apply for one. I’ll save something or other today, and while the idea of a discount always tickles my fancy, I’m sure I’m not a candidate.
(The only other thing I’ve struggled with as much as my weight is my credit, to be honest)
She’ll get points or something, blah blah, sure, I’ll go for it.
“You’ve been approved, Angel”
“You must have typed something wrong, I’m not Angel”
She laughs, “You’re an Angel if you’re a cardholder; you’ll get a booklet of coupons in a few weeks and an explanation of our rewards program, which has three teirs, up to ‘Forever Angel’
“Great, thanks” I say, not sure I’ll be dropping sixty bucks a bra for the rest of my life, and with no real intention of using the card much.
I walk back past the spilling displays, through the mall toward the parking garage; head high, pink and black bag full of crinkly tissue paper in various shades of and pink and actually cute underwear, and I get an Auntie Anne’s pretzel.
I head home and try on both bras and all the underwear again. I have my own bathroom half-mirror fashion show and am sold. I never liked underwear – on or off. Bras, with a bow that don’t look like their for eleven year olds?
I look good. I feel good.
A month later I have another half dozen pair of undies, a different style and I have the website bookmarked.
I’m a regular VS shopper now, an Angel even.
Around the two year “anniversary” of my surgery I order more underwear, a few new sleep shirts and a bathrobe. Size Medium.
As if the universe knew; when I returned home from an afternoon of follow up appointments there was a package waiting for me. Home alone I tried everything on, and it fit. I had a moment on my living room floor, eyes tearing up, laughing … it all fit. I called my mom and told her. She laughed and celebrated with me when I said “I live in a world where I can wear a size medium from Victoria’s Secret!”
I have thirty-four pair of underwear now. (Not including ones that were tossed because they were stretched out pre-panniculectomy, or faded from washing or met some other fate)
I also have half a dozen bras, regular and sport, half a drawer full of their leggings, long and short sleeve sleep shirts and a free tote bag or two…
Who would have thought ….
I’m a fucking ‘Forever Angel’