Rant: I See London, I See France


plain white panties

So a couple weeks ago I went roller-skating, on the spur of the moment, in [location redacted]. I went straight from work, so (as is my wont) I was wearing a full skirt and a cardigan sweater.

I get my skates (rentals, and they carved up my ankles something tragic, I'm still sporting band-aids), lace 'em up, and am about to hit the floor, when this Creepy Guy intercepts me.

"I am so sorry for coming up to you like this," said Creepy Guy, and for a minute I thought he meant "on Rollerblades," because, as you all know, I am an old-school quad-skate SNOB, but no — he continued — "I just had to say how BRAVE you are. I've never seen anyone skate in a skirt!"

I was, of course, gobsmacked (as I always am when people are bogglesomely rude and/or clueless), but all I could think of to say was "What do you think people did before 1955?" and fix him with my best Withering Look before I skated away.

But the whole thing really cheesed me off. (Obviously, or I would have titled this post "Musings:" or "Prolegomena:")

First of all, skating in a skirt is not "brave". Rescuing children from burning buildings is brave; wearing a skirt is … wearing a skirt.

So Creepy Guy (who was also wearing one of those arm holders for his iPod, which ALSO pissed me off, because if you are skating at a rink you should do the DJ the courtesy of listening to what he's spinning, even if he IS making Slurpees at the snack bar at the same time) was calling me brave because — as far as I could tell — there was a chance I might FALL and THUS: someone might, possibly, theoretically SEE MY UNDERWEAR.

OH NOES!

C'mon, people, are we all six years old?

Let us first admit that all of us know that most people wear underwear. We know this because when people do NOT wear underwear, it is a cause for comment. There are slang terms ("Going commando," etc.) for not wearing underwear; I have not heard any for wearing underwear. Thus not wearing underwear is the marked case.

Let us next admit that most people wear underwear that is, at minimum, the same coverage as a relatively modest bathing suit. How do we know this? A quick investigation of any mass-market store (e.g. Target) shows that the ratio of "bikini," "hipster," or "brief" styles of women's underwear stocked is roughly double the amount of thong underwear stocked (by number, not volume, obviously). Retailers stock items in proportion to their sales.

Given this knowledge, and the knowledge that thong underwear's most typical use case is to avoid a visible panty line, added to the evidence of a FULL SKIRT (= no panty line) we can posit that most people wearing full skirts are most likely not wearing thong underwear. (They may not be wearing granny panties, but they are probably wearing something that could be categorized as "great-aunt panties.")

We also know that these things exist: boy shorts, bike shorts, "shapers" etc., etc. So there are many more types of underwear that do not allow for indecent exposure than there are those that DO.

NOT TO MENTION (as I mention it) that a SIGNIFICANT portion of the women skating in jeans were displaying a "whale tail," which is (as I'm sure you know) the phenomenon where a large portion of the back and sides of a pair of thong underwear is visible above the back waistband of a pair of pants (usually low-riding jeans). And more than a few of the male patrons had visible boxer-shorts waistbands displayed above the waistbands of their pants.

So the ratio of underwear (not counting visible bra straps) displayed by pants-wearing patrons to the underwear displayed by skirt-wearing patrons was something on the order of, oh, I dunno, INFINITE. (I would make a Riemann sphere joke here if I knew anything about the Riemann sphere.)

Given all this, then, could we please lay off the "OMG!!!! Someone might SEE YOUR UNDERWEAR!!!" hand-wringing directed at us skirt- and dress-wearers? I know it's too much to ask the Creepy Guys of the world to cut it out (because if they were self-aware enough to know not to say stuff like this they would not, in fact, be creepy), but, seriously, people. We can wear skirts and dresses and participate in all sorts of normal activities, such as climbing up stepladders, crawling under desks to swap cables, riding bicycles, carrying boxes (up to 70 lbs), and, yes, even go roller-skating.

(I think this was a different rant than the one commenters on yesterday's post were expecting … sorry about that. I promise to rant about actual makes and models of underwear in some future post.)

0 thoughts on “Rant: I See London, I See France

  1. Apparently the shallow young man has never fantasized about storming the troops with the legions of Scots clad in kilts. I wonder, did they worry about their underwear?I love your rants, your posts, your style. Keep it up.

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  2. It’s been my unfortunate experience that ‘Creepy Guy’ makes such asinine comments in effort to bring attention to himself and such remarks tend to have NOTHING to do with us or what we are actually doing. Damn Creeepy Guy(s)…

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  3. Or a joke my brother has often told to the nieces and nephews, “What have you got on under there?” with the reply, “Under where?”Followed by giggles….Only an uncle gets away with this one.Love your blog!

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  4. Blame the social revolution of the 60s when everyone started wearing only jeans and t-shirts/sweaters. Most people don’t know or understand proper clothing anymore. (of course, I’m writing this while wearnig jeans and a t-shirt – but only after spending 10hrs handsewing in a corset and 2 petticoats so I think I’m allowed).

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  5. My favorite part of this post is, “Let us first admit that all of us know that most people wear underwear.” I have often used this same reasoning in defense of my continued refusal to wear thong undies (OUCH). “But, but…visible pantylines!” the pro-thongers protest. I reply: it’s ok with me if everyone knows I’m wearing underwear. It’s not a secret, nor am I ashamed of the fact. I wear undies and I’m proud, dagnabit!

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  6. weeellll, it’s just possible that he was worried that if you fell you’d skin the holy heck out of your knees…But maybe he had shorts on and i am way off base. But Maybe.

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  7. I am not a huge skirt-wearer, although I have definitely been converted to skirts for wintertime! They’re much warmer than pants.The idea of skiing in a nice warm skirt is rather appealing….

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  8. I totally do not “get” how some women in the US have their g string/thong showing above their pants. If/when that happens over here in Australia it is not a good thing, it is not a fashion statement it’s just gross. When everyone was wearing low waisted jeans most of us wore them with very low waisted bikini or boy leg undies/panties and the women who didnt walked around funny with one hand permanently glued to their back waistband hoisting it back up again. Interesting.Kate

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  9. Now that was a good rant! BTW, if you’re in Australia, France rhymes with pants. Possibly a British thing? Between you and angry chicken, I may start sewing my own french knickers.

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  10. I love this blog! After spending almost ten years exclusively in jeans, I gave up all “pants” for skirts/dresses four years ago. Two years ago I hiked Lookout Mountain Georgia in a walkaway dress and canvas sneakers. My husband has since ceased being amazed at what I can do in a skirt! Now I want to go skating, too!

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  11. Good rant..I always correlate knicker size to skirt length inversely. Mini skirts get boy-leg monstrosities and ankle length skirts get the lacy numbers.My husband’s response to the kilt questions is, ‘Nothing’s worn, it’s all in perfect working order.’

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  12. This post made me laugh! I do lots of stuff people don’t do normally in a skirt : )I can’t say for sure since I was not there to witness the said creepiness of the guy, but I probably would have taken his comment as a complement : )Def. concur with your sentiments of seeing “white tail” and boxers all the time – I’m sick of it as well. Our culture as a whole has lost so much dignity and self-respect.

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  13. I’ve been rollerskating in skirts. I’ve also been rollerskating in tiger costumes (with tails, which might get skated-on).I’ll do anything in a skirt. I’ve even changed the oil in my car in a skirt. Sheesh.

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  14. “Do any of your sisters, friends, daughters or (gasp) mothers look like the “female” shown in the underwear pic? My rant would be on reality v. ads.”I agree with that as well! After 3 kids under 3 and a stomach that looks like a relief map of the Grand Canyon, I’m not showin’ off ANYTHING in that region. It doesn’t matter I’m only 24…the body looks and feels much older!

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  15. Thank GOODNESS you werent *gasp* bike riding in a skirt! One could only imagine the wedgies one might incur and the de-wedgifying upon dismount.. the lack of grace involved in swinging your leg over off with the possibility of Creepy Guy Panty Showing; not to mention the skirt hem taunting the teeth of the bicyle chain..

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  16. I was scarred for life in my 1950s childhood by the boys’ “I see London…” persecution. In the past few years I have returned to dresses almost entirely. I have been handicapped only once when I wanted to demonstrate my head-stand to my grandchildren in their front yard, in the city, and was wearing a dress. That would have given the neighbors something to think about!

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  17. Let’s not forget the Girls All-American Professional Baseball League, in which women slid into second base while wearing skirts (and full makeup, thankyew very much).

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  18. The only thing I DON’T do in a skirt is fix the roofing on my house. I figure my hemline is 2 stories higher than the neighbors’ sightline, so better wear leg coverings. Eveything else, painting, trenching, gardening, hiking, cleaning the gutters, is more easily done in a skirt.Somebody invented “Utilikilts” so men would have the same opportunity that women do to be comfortable while working.-Shaun

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  19. I second what cheetah velour said about what b. said.And, um, I’ve got this thought, Erin maybe Creepy Guy was just kind of an Awkward Guy who thinks and says unusual things that are often misunderstood and he meant that you were brave not because you might accidentally show your underwear but because you were willing to take the risk that they might show in a world that still contains people who would freak out and even judge you if they saw them.Of course, though, you were there and I wasn’t.

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  20. I’d say you were brave for patronising the same establishment as short-legged/long torsoed, freakishly-shaped trouser wearing poltroons do.I have passed a law, or at least I will do when given the opportunity in The New Society, that states, “person or persons wearing skirts or trousers that hang one inch or more below the navel shall be shot. With Bazookas.”I was very generous with the measurement too.

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  21. Kate, I’m in Pennsylvania, and “France” rhymes with “pants” for me. For quite a few people, too, or that old rhyme wouldn’t be an old rhyme. It depends on how flat the “a” is in a given state, I suppose – OTOH, since each word has the same “a”, I’m not certain why it wouldn’t rhyme. What would each word rhyme with in your area, if you don’t mind my asking?Shaun, I HAVE done roofwork in a skirt. Roofing, painting, you name it. However, I generally do have tights on underneath!sophisticate’s diary, I’m not certain what you mean – do you mean the waistbands of skirts and trousers cannot sit an inch below the navel? Well, I’ll be rounding up the rebels, I fear – as an hourglass, if I DO wear trousers, I wear them two fingers’ breadth below my navel. And if I bellydance, I wear skirts that are lower still. And I believe that I would ordinarily be considered a conservative (if odd) dresser.

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  22. “France” rhymes with “pants” in Ontario, Canada too. Except for when francophones pronounce it with a French pronunciation. And that, except for when they’re pronouncing it with an anglo-Canadian accent for us anglophones when they may be talking to us. In which case, they may pronounce it like “pants” since that’s what we anglos understand.*****Hi, la belladonna! Nice to run into you!

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  23. okayfirst kudos to all the panti-wearers out there!! double that fro those who keep it to themselves (so tired of looking at others underwear)second pole dancing could pay for college?!? that is what I tell my dh as he fusses over my 3 yr old running around in just her “georgies” (curious george underwear)lastly about visable panty lines the easiest fix for most people is buying pants that fit properly…nuf said

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  24. The most crass comments I ever get from men occur when I’m on my bike wearing a skirt with boyshorts under it. My skirt is usually blowing up a bit and I never make a big deal about it or freak trying to pull it into place. Based on your rollerskating experience, I suspect that you can imagine how many times I’m hooted at by leering creepy guys. They’re shorts. They’re under my skirt. They’re short shorts. Deal with it. (And you just know they’ve got a big ol’ plumber crack to show off when they get to the work site.)

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  25. I wear skirts all the time, and I am constantly amazed by the reaction I get when they see me riding my bike, running, skating, hiking, mowing my yard or any other outdoor activtiy in a skirt. Great come back with the “what do you think women did before 1955?” But it was probably over Creepy Guys head? He is probably still wondering what happen in 1955!

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  26. La BellaDonna, I was referring to the current ‘fashion’ of low-slung trousers and skirts. We went from hipsters (which almost looked good on perhaps 0.3 per cent of the female population between 17 and 19) to monstrosities that hang well below the hips and occasionally below the pubic area.They offend mine eyes, are of no practical value and are worn by people that would blindly follow any trend going. Shame they hadn’t heard of Heavan’s Gate.Belly dancing skirts are, by definition, exempt from my new law.

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  27. labelladonna, I’m English – so pants rhymes with ants, France rhymes with… chance. But I guess that only works if you’re in the UK! Phonetically I guess it would be Fr-AR-nce. We say pants pretty much the same way you do!

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  28. Kate, so it’s … Fr-AR-nce and … ch-AR-nce?Here in this section of the U.S., it’s Fr-AHnce, P-AHnts, ch-AHnce and AHnts! (They all four sound alike when pronounced by other folks who, in fact, pronounce them very differently from the above; I can’t figure out how to type them phonetically, though! It is a much flatter “A”, however, and very nasal.)However, we have sections of the U.S. where “Mary”, “marry”, and “merry” all sound the same. We also have sections where a town in New Jersey which is named “Point Pleasant” sounds an awful lot like “PERNT Pleasant” when pronounced by the natives thereof. And folks in Baltimore, Maryland “warsh” their hands in “wudder” to get them clean.But now you know why we have a rhyme with, “I see London, I see France, I see someone’s underpants!”

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  29. As other people have expressed, that’s just crazy. But as an exclusive skirt-wearer, I feel your pain.(And I enjoy your blog, although this is my first comment).I am on my roof, cleaning out gutters 5 or 6 times a year…good stinking grief.

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  30. I once tripped and fell down at a work-related dinner dance, while wearing a cocktail dress. Yes, I did. I’m not proud of it, but it happened. My dear colleage E. has told and retold the story of my fall so many times that the story has evolved from my exposing my underwear, to thong, to commmando in her retelling.I know for a fact I was wearing Spanx (I mean, hello, cocktail dress!) and for that I am truly thankful!And I agree, Creepy Guy was hitting on you.

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  31. I know how u feel. I often wear full skirts with petticote and when I am in Boston, it doesn’t seem to phase anyone, but when I am on Cape (cape cod where I live now) sometimes I get odd remarks. My friend and I were yard saleing this summer. She also likes to live it up midcentury. I was in a full cotton skirt and petticote flats simple cotton top and headband she in a pencil skirt wide belt and headscarf a la’ 50’s movie star. This woman came up to us interrupted our conversation and said, “what are u suppose to be?” and I said, “excuse me?” why are u ‘all dressed up?” says she. I said, this is how we dress. I have to say she seemed a bit ashamed after that,but when did it become odd to wear dresses on a daily basis? It is odd. tho most times people say things like ‘u look nice’ so that is always good. I like your blob by the bye. I just discovered you as i just started blogging.

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  32. la belladonna,I didn’t know that people ‘warsh’ in Baltimore! They do in St. Louis, too (or at least, if they — or their parents — are from certain parts of the county). The first president’s name gets quite a treatment, too… (But I moved here to late to catch this particular variation.)

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  33. 🙂 maybe creepy guy just thought you irrisistably cute in that skirt and didnt come up with anyting more clever to say! (Guys dont always quality check what falls out of their mouths…and they sure dont calculate the odds of women wearing thongs or briefs.) Accept it as a compliment instead of “chopping him to pieces”! You were noticed!

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  34. I was in the musical Bells Are Ringing long ago, and had to finish one number with multiple twirls in a circle skirt, followed by a spicy Ole! a collapse on a couch. The orchestra director took me aside and asked me if Id please wear more underclothing, since I was distracting the brass section. Let it be known that I was wearing not only granny panties, but also dance pants. For Petes sake, what did he want me to wear: full bloomers opaque medical support hose? And I cant help it if the horn section has ADD!

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  35. What I don’t get about the skirt-wearing thing is the number of people who assume I’m a member of some very conservative group. About once a month somebody asks me whether I’m Amish. The sad thing is that we live in Amish country and the distinction should be readily apparent to anybody…Of course, if the Amish ladies can run a FARM in a skirt, I fail to see why it’s so weird for me to pick up lumber at Lowes in a skirt.

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  36. Sorry for the late commenting, but I just found this wonderful blog and am poking through the archives. probably nobody will ever see this one, but hey.It’s possible he thought the full skirt might get caught around your legs. As a skirt-wearer *I* know it won’t, but he probably didn’t.I also wear boxers under skirts in the summer. I call them my “Barbara Boxers.”

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  37. I just spent the week in Disney World. I wore skirts the entire time and I go on ALL the rides! Did fine and didnt worry at all about modesty.

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