Today I am going to talk about something that is largely disappearing from the cultural landscape, women’s underwear sections in flyers and catalogues. I was on the Victoria’s Secret website and thought back to when the Victoria’s Secret catalogue would come tour house every once and awhile and how that really never happens anymore. While Victoria’s secret may be the publication everyone thinks of when they think women’s underwear catalogues in truth it was at one time reasonably rare and the common ones would have Sears and here in Canada Eatons. Those books were magical filled with so much awesome stuff and of course most little boys flipped to the Women’s fashion section to sneak a peek at the women in their underwear. Of course for some of us it was two fold not only was it a chance to see women in their underwear but it was a chance to see women’s underwear. I, like I am guessing many of you, will often find myself appreciating not just how a woman looks but also what she is wearing. So a naked women is attractive but an attractive woman in some sexy underwear can be even better because of our appreciation of the clothing. These catalogues and flyers had the benefits of being readily available, always updated, and discrete as I wasn’t looking at the women’s section I was totally looking at the toys. This was of course in the days prior to the Internet and was my only acceptable connection to this world I so desired to be a part of. Today of course anyone can go online and look up women’s underwear and be greeted by millions of pictures but it seems different. I started to wonder how my consumption of this media altered by preference in women’s clothing? I did a Google image search of Vintage Women’s Underwear Catalogues and browsed around and noted that my memory was fairly accurate in what I remembered. The bras and panties the more average models wore were fairly utilitarian, not lacy with frills. The cups of the bras encased the entire breast and the bikini panty was the most revealing thing there. Yet these images were so satisfying, and admittedly even today I find myself drawn to the Playtex Wonderbra of yester year. Sure it doesn’t look as sexy as others but there is something sexy and comforting about it, that and nothing holds rolled up panties or breast forms like a full cup Wonderbra.
This made me reflect on those who are younger than me as the Internet came into being when I was highschool, so I am I the middle of the two worlds of those who grew up with Saturday flyers and those with access to anything they wanted. I am sure my idea of women’s underwear was formed by these images and the bras on display were rarely the sexy lacy ones. Today you walk anywhere and those large full bodied boxed bras are buried on a shelf as some sort of embarrassment even though they are so comfortable. The limited options available to us in those printed materials were precious to us, now an image can be searched for at any point in time. While the Internet allows us to talk and support each other so we no longer feel alone in this there also seems the risk that the innocence of all of it is lost that much sooner in the digital age. The catalogues are out of print and the flyers today rarely have decent intimates sections and so what is a young boy to do? Google it of course, and then be blasted with images of lace, ruffles, and frills on incredibly hot women. It seems what I am saying is that it is ok to leave those flyers laying around for a little while just in case some little boy needs to sneak a peek at some women’s underwear.