A Brief Word

20 Jan A Brief Word

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly 31.1.22


Life changing. That’s the only way I can describe it. It has brightened my mornings, lifted my mood and didn’t cost me a cent. More than happy to share the secret so we can all get on board, and you’re very welcome.

Here’s what I did – I cleaned out my undie drawer. Marie Kondo’d my knickers, chucked out the ones that didn’t bring me joy. The ones that judged me and said I’d had too much Christmas trifle. The ones meant to suck in my tummy but made me feel trapped. Those others designed to feel young and funky but which cut me off at the thighs or disappeared up my bum or rolled over at the hint of a belly. Also the shabby ones, and the ones that had been mean and scratchy from day one.

Which sounds like a lot of undies to chuck but really we’re talking maybe half a dozen? Some of them were guilty of more than one crime – I’m looking at you harsh red lace bikini brief with a tendency to ride up in places you don’t belong.

We hold on to bad undies longer than we should. Partly that’s because they’re madly expensive – especially relative to their size and weight – and we want to get our money’s worth. Leave them in the drawer untouched for a couple of years and, golly, look how well they’ve lasted.

But also, somewhere in each of us lives a particular terror which is The Fear of Running Out of Clean Undies. I honestly can’t tell you if this has ever happened to me – maybe on some trip I’ve miscalculated the ratio of knickers to number of days between laundromats? But the fact I can’t tell you where or when this terrible thing occurred suggests this is not a memory, but an anxiety about something that hasn’t happened yet. A hardwired dread, like being attacked by a woolly mammoth at the mouth of your cave.

So we keep the knickers that make us sad and angry for “emergencies”, shoving them to the back of the drawer where we’ll find them when all other options fail. But they’re sneaky, those undies, working their way up the front where your early morning barely-conscious hand will accidentally pluck them from the pile, and before you know it you’re wearing something that makes you feel bad about yourself. The day has hardly started and you’ve already made a terrible choice.

Toss them out, I say! Yes, even the expensive ones – stop thinking they deserve a turn so you can justify the money spent on them. It’s not your job to make your lingerie feel special – this is absolutely supposed to work the other way round. You go right ahead and chuck ‘em out if they’re mean to you.

And then (and this may be a general rule for living) pay more attention to the undies that bring you joy – their style and shape and fabric – and get more of those into your life. I mean, wait for the sales, obviously, unless you won Lotto this summer. A terrifically good underwear drawer is a long-term investment project.

And remain vigilant – any time a pair of gruts feels less than great (“gruts” is an awful word but it’s still better than “panties”) biff them. And as you toss them into the bin, say in your firmest voice so you really hear it, “It’s not me, it’s you”.