May 02 2008

The vital mission of intimate apparel


As a spinster aunt whose monthly cancer drug bill could put a kid through Harvard, I always enjoy getting emails from people named Andrew at the National Boob Job Awareness Foundation who love my blog and are certain that my readers would equally love hearing about the Lap Dance For the Cure event or whatever. For every boner raised they’ll donate 10 cents to the Global Disease Awareness Educational Research Outreach Fund.

Why do I get the feeling that Andrew is not so avid a patriarchy-blamer as he suggests?

We have the Komen Foundation to thank for this crap. Ever since they figured out how to make people equate buying stuff with “curing” sentimental women’s diseases, doing-pointless-shit-for-the-cure is now America’s second-most-popular weekend activity. And Andrew, with his list of women bloggers, has job security for life.

Lately I’ve been getting spammed by some pretty persistent internet marketing flacks. They’re trying to leverage cervical cancer into big retail underwear bucks.

“Only one day left for Cancer Awareness Opportunity!” warns Andrew. Ah, if only I could believe that after tomorrow people wold stop trying to sell me more cancer awareness.

But this underwear thing, jayzus. Never has the commodification of fatal disease been so transparent. The pitch is something called “The Annual Undie Awards.” You log onto some site that sells underwear, input a bunch of information about the dimensions of your ass, and “vote” for your fave rave knickers. The retail underwear site will donate a quarter for every vote. They’ll also sell you your sexy animal-print thong after you vote for it.

“We all know someone who has been touched by this deadly disease,” eulogizes the sexy animal-print thong-marketing flack. “Please let your readers know about [the retail underwear site], and how their vote will also generate a contribution to this vital mission.”

Well, readers, now you know. Underwear, cervixes, voting. It’s “fun”!

Still, although cervixes are located down there, they aren’t quite as sexy as boobs, so I can appreciate that selling anything with this particular cancer is a tough slog. Here are the guys sitting around Starbucks, trying to figure out how to drive traffic to their site.

Underwearpreneur A: How about a Paris Hilton look-alike contest?

Underwearpreneur B: Dude, she doesn’t even wear underwear.

Underwearpreneur C: Hey. Let’s jump on that pink cancer bandwagon!

A: C’s right. You tell women how down you are with breast cancer and they throw cash at you AND go jogging in pink hot pants. Cha-ching!

B: Are you kidding me? We can’t afford breast cancer. Do you have any idea how much Komen charges for that logo?

C: Well, aren’t there some cheaper cancerous ladyparts?

A: Hymens?

B: Dude, hymens are too cheap.

A: Cervical cancer, then.

B: What is a cervix, anyway?

C: Nobody knows. That’s why we can get it for cheap.

B: I’ll text Andrew right now.

The underwear website is full of helpful pointers to assist women in navigating the mysterious and treacherous currents of feminine behavior. It’s not easy being a girl. Putting on a pair of underwear is apparently rocket science.

Step both legs into your panty, then pull it up until the waistband is at the desired location. Check and make sure your crotch is centered and pulled forward. Now, starting at the sides, run your fingers along and under the elastic of the leg openings towards the back to make sure the back panel is properly cupping your buttocks. Finally, run your fingers around the inside of the waistband to set it evenly at the waist.

Somebody actually got paid to write that.


Cervix photo link
Thong photo link


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  1. norbizness

    You’re discounting the possibility that SkyNet wrote that, showing that it is self-aware and conscious of human absurdity, which means we’ve all got about 12 hours to live before the nuclear missiles start launching themselves.

  2. coathangrrr

    I don’t think SkyNet wrote it, I think it is the line from whence SkyNet is spawned. The beginning of the evil artificial intelligence can only be found in the worst writing of our time.

  3. Kenzie

    Wait, what?

    Check and make sure your crotch is centered and pulled forward.

    Now look, my crotch stays where it is. The crotch of the underwear might be better pulled forward, or back for that matter. But mine? DOES NOT LIKE TO BE PULLED IN ALMOST ANY DIRECTION!

  4. narya

    1. Mine probably doesn’t look like that, what with the HPV and the cryosurgery and all.

    2. To continue with the language geekery–and the latin lessons, for that matter–is the plural of cervix cervices, as with appendix and index? I never took Latin, so I have no clue.

  5. Theener

    I can say with surety that the plural of “cervix” is “cervices.” Did you know that some women can have two? In which I work for a gynecologist and have had to use the word “cervices” in the course of business.

    And Twisty? I hear you so loud that it’s deafening.

  6. herdottiness

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long long time. You all rock.

    Crotch = cervix??

    Crimminy crickets. Ya mean this is where my tongue goes? Yuck.

  7. Orange

    Shit! I’ve been putting my “panty” on wrong all these years. It’s time to reevaluate my entire life. sigh

  8. octopod

    What on earth is that thing in the picture? Is that, like, the exit to the stomach or uterus viewed from above? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure that was never supposed to see the light of day.

  9. Hilde Lindemann

    octopod, that would be somebody’s cervix. This is a hilarious post, especially the part about putting on your panties. Even funnier than the little warning tag they put on flowers at the supermarket, which say the flowers are not to be taken internally. *Who* gets paid to write that stuff???

  10. uh huh

    Spitting tea on the laptop may just be worth it for the laugh today.

  11. BadKitty

    I love my cervix, as it is the only part of my female anatomy that has not turned on me yet. I’m now facing the possible removal of my remaining ovary and the fibroid in my uterus is up to the size of an orange. Sigh.

    So no dissing the cervix, hear?

  12. pisaquari

    Do these crotch doilies come with pubic hair pockets?

  13. Panic

    I ain’t gonna diss the cervix, but mine has a piece of metal through it, and I’m currently on day two of the horrorshow, so seeing that picture made my entire lower half cramp up in protest.

    The pain! It pains! Send panties!

  14. rowanleigh

    “doing pointless shit for the cure activity..”

    Twisty, I want to marry you just based on the phrase alone. Or, on second thought could you tutor me until I too can speak in such humorous, concise yet so on target phrases? I am a great chef and would cook anything you want in exchange twisty turn of phrase tutoring lessons.

    Seriously, though, can I put that phrase on a t-shirt?

  15. rowanleigh

    My heartfelt apologies for any errors I made in spelling, ellipses, and grammar in the above post.

  16. rootlesscosmo

    Somebody actually got paid to write that.

    Have you considered the possibility that he was happy to compose the phrase “properly cupping your buttocks” for free? In fact, he might even have paid for the chance.

  17. Kathleen

    oh thank god someone finally explained how to wear underpants. I’ve been afraid to ask and so just have had to suffer the bemused expressions of strangers for YEARS as I walked around with them on my head. Years, I tell you.

  18. Jezebella

    “What is the proper way to put on a panty?”

    I am TOTALLY in the wrong line of work.

    Also, what if I want to put on, say, “panties”, plural? If I call them “my underwears” is there a different procudure?


    Twisty, that is an awfully shiny gooey picture of a cervix there, and assuming you found it on the internets, I’m way impressed with your Google Fu.

  19. Lisa

    How do I know when a pair of panties are “properly” cupping my buttocks? Could I have been walking around for all this time with improperly cupped buttocks? The shame, the horror!

  20. Magdalena


    I’ve never been able to use the word “panties” with a straight face. It is a ridiculous word, in both its singular and plural forms. Once, I used the word “underwear” in a conversation with a dude who promptly corrected me: “Women don’t wear underwear. They wear panties!” I can only agree with your assessment that different procedures must be required for each of these disparate pieces of fabric.

    Also from the troubling plural department:
    Underwear is singular, whereas the more diminutive “undies” is plural. I don’t get it.

  21. goblinbee

    I was halfway through the post before I realized it was a cervix and not the head of a penis.
    I was thinking the arrow meant, “If you do things right, this goes here.”

  22. Esme

    I just wanted to let you know that you’re actually the inspiration behind my senior research. I’m doing content analysis of breast cancer cause related marketing

  23. Izzy

    I can’t wait for the sequel, “Thong Wearing 101.” Surely bumfloss is a procedure in and of itself.

  24. Twisty

    Esme, you probably already know this, but Samantha King’s Pink Ribbon, Inc is my inspiration for cancer marketing blaming. Check it out if you haven’t already.

  25. Ms Kate

    Pull the panties down and place the panty over your nose and mouth, tighten the elastic straps, and breathe normally. If you are traveling with a small child, be sure to secure the panty over your head first before placing the panty over your child’s head.

  26. kcb

    It was bad enough that there are cups in bras and now my “panty” has a cupping function, too? Next I suppose I’ll be instructed to make sure my socks are cupping my heels. I’ll pause before leaving the house to see if my hat is properly cupping my head. I shudder to think of gloves.

    I’ll bet if you were to show one of these giants of marketing prose a Diva cup, which is actually worn near the cervix, they’d run screaming from the room.

  27. elanor

    I thought it was a hot tasty sugar covered doughnut, not cervix on the picture.

  28. sevanetta

    1. Ms Kate – by the way, I’m Kate too *waves* – your instructions made me laugh.

    2. Twisty, thanks for the picture of the cervix. No, really! I wonder which bit they cut away of mine to get at (what I like to fondly call) the ‘pre-cancer’. That one looks nice and shiny and even. Bet mine isn’t.

    3. JESUS CHRIST! Did anyone else follow the link to the ‘thong-page’ and read it? I’m not seeing the outrage I thought might result if all the other commeters had – but maybe it was just me. Blargh at that smirky, patronising tone, with all of the ‘most women now find thongs very comfortable and sexy’. G-bangers: I gave ’em up. Because they are most emphatically NOT comfortable.

  29. slythwolf

    Thongs? Comfortable? Seriously? Someone actually said that?!

  30. Lisa


    Yeah, I looked at the thong page because I actually couldn’t believe the panty instructions. I thought it was a spoof. Sorry to say, it wasn’t. I shoulda known; Twisty don’t lie.

    Then I read the thong thing and scoffed so hard I had to down a bag of cough drops. It translated in my head like this: Most women feel understandably tortured by the thong at first, but soon find that they become desensitized after weeks and weeks of undergarment abuse and are too exhausted from trying so hard to be sexy to care.

  31. Esme

    I’m actually using two different pieces from King to structure the analysis.

  32. Sycorax

    That cervix pic is half grossing me out and half making me crave a glazed donut. The combination is an unsettling one.

  33. Bethany

    I am so glad to hear somebody else who is frustrated with constant accosting to do pointless shit for the cure or give money because somebody else is. I am all for less cancer, but seriously. I won’t be buying panties from condescenders to prove my cancer hating.

  34. Ron Sullivan

    I’d bought a thong, worn it five or six times because I was into giving it a fair try, and then thrown it away as not even useful for polishing the silver before someone told me the secret is to wear it backwards.

    Somehow, though, I wasn’t inspired to buy another one just to test that. Maybe I should’ve waited to read the instructions on that site, huh? Wait; maybe not.

    Twisty, that is one unhealthy-looking cervix there. Ow.

  35. larkspur

    Hey, Panic, good luck and hang in there.

    Can you imagine Jock Straps For The Cure? Well, first you’d have to imagine a baby-blue Prostate Cancer industry. Then little blue…ribbons? Or maybe little blue bow-ties? But SkyNet or whatever is gonna have to write the dude-friendly yet lyrical instructions for the proper donning of the Product.

    I guess the pinkification is just a more lucrative profit center, and a diversion from the Search for the Causes, because that might prove problematic to some of the same businesses – cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and the whole chemical-related complex.

    As usual, though, I know I’m preachin’ to the horse’s mouth.

    PS: I call ’em underpants, unless I’m wearing my garment of choice for relaxing, which is XL Hanes for Dudes Knit Cotton Boxer shorts, and then I call ’em panties.

  36. Colleen

    Holy crap! I checked out that FAQ page after reading sevanetta’s comment and found the following gem on how to avoid the losing favor with teh menz by forcing them to view female tummy fat:
    “Girdles are out and have been replaced by shapewear. Unlike old-fashioned girdles and corsets, shapewear is made without painful bones and stays. Instead, shapewear is made of firm control fabric and is constructed so that it shapes and smoothes without cutting off your circulation. (Probably not good news for the makers of fainting-couches.) As the saying goes, “We’ve come a long way, baby!””

    Sweet merciful heavens! Corsets were renamed girdles were renamed shapewear and no one told me? We’ve been living in the post-patriarchy all this time and I didn’t even notice! Later I’m going to have to face some tough questions — topping the list, “What the fuck have I been bitching about all this time, then?” — but first I have to go buy some beribboned pink corsets. But not a fainting couch, oh no. Because we’ve come a long way, baby!

  37. Cath Elliott

    That cervix looks like something you could buy in Macdonalds. Being English I don’t wear panties; I wear knickers.

  38. Twisty

    Cath, as an equal-opportunity underwear blogger, I did use the word “knickers” somewhere in the post, just so the Brits couldn’t accuse me of America-centric exclusionism.

    If you wouldn’t mind, though, in the UK what do you call those old-timey knee pants that buttoned just above the calf? The ones that newsboys wore in the 20s?

  39. Twisty

    I have seen this “shapewear” on TV, and it’s just a massive expanse of heavy-duty lycra spandex that starts under your tits and ends just above your knees. I can’t imagine how you put one on, but I suspect it takes quite a bit of writhing. Jesus. Over my dead, flabby body.

  40. Lara

    Umm, when I was looking at the picture of the cervix I was NOT thinking “mm, yummy doughnut” at all…

    “oh thank god someone finally explained how to wear underpants. I’ve been afraid to ask and so just have had to suffer the bemused expressions of strangers for YEARS as I walked around with them on my head. Years, I tell you.”

    You know Kathleen I have been considering going around in a shopping mall or some public space wearing a bra on my head, telling people I am a “Victoria’s Secretions” model.

  41. GiselleBana

    Nice cervix, but why is it dripping orange liquid? That’s a little creepy.

  42. Cath Elliott

    Twisty – Do you mean bloomers?

  43. H.

    If you wouldn’t mind, though, in the UK what do you call those old-timey knee pants that buttoned just above the calf? The ones that newsboys wore in the 20s?

    Depending on the style. either breeches (flared above, tight below the knee), plus-fours (basically loose and bunched under the knee) aka knickerbockers.

  44. Twisty

    Knickerbockers! That’s what I was looking for. Because those pants are knickers in the US.

  45. rootlesscosmo

    those old-timey knee pants that buttoned just above the calf

    If they end four inches below the knee, they’re “plus fours” and used to be de rigueur for (male, natch) golfers.

  46. Ron Sullivan

    If they end four inches below the knee, they’re “plus fours” and used to be de rigueur for (male, natch) golfers.

    Served ’em right, too.

  47. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    “I have seen this ‘shapewear’ on TV, and it’s just a massive expanse of heavy-duty lycra spandex that starts under your tits and ends just above your knees. I can’t imagine how you put one on, but I suspect it takes quite a bit of writhing.”

    Yeah, no small amount of talcum powder either. Which has been know to predispose a person to cervical cancer.

    No lycra spandex contraption has yet been created that could tame my fat. All these horrors do is compress a person’s blubber into a hardened mass. And hebbin help you if you have to go to the bathroom.

  48. Lara

    Feminists used to throw bras in the trash, we should just burn those damned lycra things. Burning instead of trashing just seems more exciting to me….

  49. keres

    Lara, as much as I share your pyromanical bent, burning Lycra would be:

    a) bad for the environment,

    b) expose you to cancer-causing chemicals (don’t burn those porno mags either, as most printed material release dioxins), and

    c) a waste of a perfectly good projectile launcher.

  50. Lara

    You’re more perceptive than I am Keres, heh. I guess I am more impulsive ;P
    Ahh, so lycra makes good projectile material….should we then use the lycra to project huge rocks into the windows of porn shops?! Now THAT would be interesting…

  51. Casey (kcb)

    I have seen this “shapewear” on TV, and it’s just a massive expanse of heavy-duty lycra spandex that starts under your tits and ends just above your knees. I can’t imagine how you put one on, but I suspect it takes quite a bit of writhing.

    Mrs. G. (whom I love) of Derfwad Manor recently reported on her brief first-hand (so to speak) encounter with Spanx, that tits-to-knees shapewear. Sounds like the girdle from hell to me.

  52. donna

    Aw, c’mon, where’s my colon cancer campaign already? We could use the undies thing, too!

    Colons just aren’t sexy, dammitall.

  53. islandmamma

    I thought the picture was of a boil you’d get from wearing thongs!

    ???????????????? stuck in the middle with you ????????????????

  54. islandmamma

    BTW the question marks were cute little music notes…

  55. Lt. Rev. B. Dagger Lee

    I beg to differ with Donna: colons are totally sexy; it’s semicolons that aren’t.

  56. stephanie

    At first I was like…what is that? Then I realized it’s a cervix. I wonder why I never knew what a cervix looked like.

    I have had cryosurgery and a LEEP to cut off the nasty pre-growth business on my cervix. Mine probably looks lopsided now. And, you know, where was cancer on the STD chart? I remember warts. Like, don’t have sex, you’ll get warts. Here is a picture of the warts.

    No cancer. Nothing about HPV and your cervix. Bastards.

  57. hutbug

    I don’t like the use of misogyny to describe all this because it’s not really accurate. It’s really exploitation, of our entire beings, physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. After 50 years of struggling to understand why things are they way they are, I think it all began when men figured out that they had something to do with reproduction. Prior to that, we were probably regarded as magical, and probably dominant in society. After that, the ‘might makes right’ rule activated, and we because reproduction and property transference tools. It’s really all about money and power. They don’t hate us, they just like making money off us. They have convinced us that our only power is our physical appearance, and they can market to our fears to the tune of trillions. We buy makeup and hair removers and ridiculous clothes and uncomfortable shoes and plastic surgery and self-help books and weight loss scams and counseling sessions…and we get married and/or have babies, trying to feel like we are worth something, anything, and no matter what we do it doesn’t get much respect because only the money makers get that. And of course, all the violence is just way too much testosterone from millenia of natural selection. Thanks to modern technology, all we need to do there is alter the water.

  1. Weekend Links: A Day In The Life at Hoyden About Town

    […] Twisty uncovers this invaluable daily-living hint from a Bra Fitting Advice page’s “FAQs About Panties”: What is the proper way to put on a panty? […]

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