How comfortable are men with the idea of shopping for womens’ lingerie?
Cup-size, under-bust, padded or wired, laced or seamless, cross-back or strapless. Ask a man what these words mean and pat comes the answer albeit with a certain degree of nonchalance — the bra. Ask them to go shop for the same and you can almost see the crimson creeping into their face.
For advertising professional and newly-wed Gaurav, 32, the L-word makes him nervous. “My wife wanted me to present her with sexy lingerie as a wedding gift but I ended up having some pretty awkward moments while discussing the details with the retailer!” The result — a clueless purchase that sagged at the wrong places!
“Presenting your girl with a sagging bra reflects a relationship that is also sagging,” feels Debarati, who is a student of feministic studies in the UK. “It might also mean that men are just too ignorant to even care how a woman looks. This is strange considering they like to watch photos of shapely women stripped to their bare essentials!”
Mona Dutta, relationship counsellor with a city-based NGO warns us before blasting the men for their ignorance. “Men do not consider shopping for innerwear such a big deal. Come to think of it, how long would a man actually spend buying a pair of denims? Or buying anything for that matter? Women spend a lot of time behind their shopping because they are more analytical and they scrutinize everything. Most men also feel that getting into the specifics of a lingerie is strictly a woman’s domain. So merely speaking out the gross details of say a bra or a thong is embarrassing for them. It’s like asking a boy to play with dolls.”
It all boils down to perception, then. Yet winds of change are blowing especially among the younger generation. Freelance photographer Wridhhi, 24, admits that he wouldn’t bat an eyelid while purchasing innerwear for his girlfriend. “There used to be a time when purchasing condoms from the local chemist would be an emotional torture for guys just because there was an aura of taboo around the concept of sex. Similarly, lingerie used to be a specialization area for women where men were not ‘supposed’ to butt in. But not anymore. Times have changed and preconceived notions too, are changing.”
Thank the continuous exposure to information and entertainment for the change. Celebrities dictate not only outerwear trends but innerwear trends too. The concept of innerwear as outerwear, designer lingerie, replaceable bra straps, seamless panties to be worn under tight pants are common among the youth of today. “Lingerie, today doesn’t only lend ‘support’ to a woman’s body. It defines who they are. It decides who they want to be,” says Mona. Hope men are listening and start taking active interest in women’s ‘second skin’.
Appeared in Calcutta Times, The Times of India, January 8, 2011