Coming to Terms with his love of Undies by Beau Briefs
Coming to terms:
— Beau Briefs (@underloverwear) January 29, 2016
Last night I was tweeting, after a bit of wine, and I tweeted
and it got me thinking. It’s true. I have grown more and more to love myself. This self-love and acceptance seemed, upon further reflection to have an interesting correlation with my underwear hobby/obsession. However, as my old argumentation professor would be quick to point out correlation and causation are not the same thing. Very true. Underwear did not cause me to love myself but they added to my self-esteem and overall self-image. And then I realized something:
My relationship to underwear bears a strange and sort of beautiful resemblance to my relationship with my sexuality and in the end myself. So let’s dive down this rabbit hole.
When I was younger I would sneak old Nordstrom catalogs into my room and check out the underwear section, starting with the women’s but always fixating more on the men’s. So much was my unknown suffering at the time that I was even okay to be sneaking looks at gross, outdated, tighty-whities that I would one day come to mega-loath. I mean icky, old white pairs with the infamous thin gold band at the top. These were dark times.
Now I grew up in a very conservative household and I would have died if my parents knew that I was looking at the catalogs like this, let alone the men’s section. It was a secret and it was a secret that I even kept myself from acknowledging for a long, long time.
I remember once trying to cut a pair of my own underwear so that they would be more bikini brief style. The experiment did not go well. Much like trying to find and make the partner that one wants out of the clearly wrong ones. Sorry girls. There are times and situations in our lives that demand flexibility and making things work. Yet there are things in our lives that we have to realize don’t fit or conform for a reason. Those old tighty-whities were never meant to become bikini briefs, never.
Eventually I would come to buy my first pair of nice underwear, black Calvin Klein hip briefs. From there I would buy random off brands of different cuts and styles from the likes of Fred Meyers or Macy’s (Bon Marche for the PNW back then, shout out!). Yet every so often I would purge the underwear from my life. Round up all of the ones I had bought secretly, put them in a paper grocery bag and throw them away. Burying them deep in the garage can so they wouldn’t be seen.
I promised myself to keep everything “conventional”. I would discipline myself, train myself. Somehow I saw underwear as a gateway, a secret acknowledgement to the even bigger secret that I, like the undies in the trash, had buried so far down that I wouldn’t let myself truly discover it. From deep down in the drawer to hidden deep in the closet and then to deep in the garbage, this was not to be spoken of.
This went on for years. I would “slip” and buy a pair of undies and just like that the collection would grow again. Being able to drive to Seattle and shop at more scandalous stores with a big, vast selection accelerated this trend. Build it up. Bury it down. Repeat. And at every step of the way, fear.
Fear was ever present. What if my mother discovered a pair of different underwear? What if I were exposed while changing at school? In my mind, one slip up would leave me alone, banished, outcast. Not until years and years later did I realize that I was actually imposing those realities on myself because of this fear.
Naturally this cycle coincided with the cycle inside my head about who I was. Right when I was about to reach a point of admitting my deep down secret to myself I would purge all traces of acknowledgement from my life. To use what I now see as a terribly offensive term, I would cleanse myself of it all. My 17-20 year old self probably would have used that term in the moment and I know now how detrimental that was to my self-love. There was nothing to cleanse, there was everything to embrace.
And so it went. Cycle after cycle. Nowadays I have a semi-massive underwear collection and I sometimes laugh to think about how large it would be if I never went through those purges. Similarly, I wonder how much fuller my life would be if I hadn’t dismissed myself or the real me.
Finally, I couldn’t escape it anymore. I LOVED underwear. I loved having it, I loved buying it, I loved wearing it and sometimes yes, I loved showing it off. It made me feel good about myself, it made me feel like a more realized version of myself. If you ask me, I am never sexier or happier than when I am rocking a great pair of underwear.
I accepted it, finally! It only took me 21 years. I let the collection grow, expand and get more diverse. At the same time, I slowly mustered the courage to love and accept myself. I unburied the secret I had been actively shoving down for years on end. I opened that trash covered paper bag and I let my true self out. And it was breathtaking. I could look in the mirror, into my face and be as happy with the person I saw looking back as I could look at underwear in the mirror and be proud. I was me and I was free.
To this day my underwear collection is a reflection and a beacon of who I am. It is my favorite and most valued expression of who I am, all of me. And I love it. And I love myself, my real self.
I understand that the love of underwear might seem stereotypical or over blown to some people and that’s fine but I don’t care. I really did treat this love, this passion as a reference to my sexuality and my acknowledgement of myself. I invested in it only to dispose of it in secret. I prized it only to tarnish it internally. And finally I let the world know. And thank goodness I did because I have never been happier.