Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The days when women were fettered and trussed



“Ooh, a panty-girdle,” I exclaimed, maybe a little too enthusiastically during a scene in which a woman was disrobing in an episode of Mad Men a while ago.

“I thought you told me you hated panty-girdles,” Wendy replied, looking ever so slightly askance at me.

“Pure nostalgia,” I said. “I did hate them at one, obvious, level but the scene still had some sweet associations.”

The sweet association being that if you had come to the realization your date was trussed in a panty girdle, you had actually made it past 2nd base. Revelation of undergarb was, in the context of that day, early 3rd base to be sure.

The ‘nice’ girls of the 1940s generally wore panty girdles, ‘50s and early ‘60s. They were something of a combination of chastity belt and fashion statement. As fashion statement (as opposed to chastity belt, to which I’ll attest was their primary purpose) they were deemed desirable in that they were slimming. In truth, which is why they were favored by parents of young females, they were intended to be an anti-aphrodisiac in that the wearer was rendered from behind with the appearance that she had only one bum cheek with no suggestive cleft in the middle.

Panty girdles varied in fortifications. Some were pinned up with wire and bone and were virtually impenetrable, alas. Others were a little more welcoming, sometimes even cute, but they still gave an artificial appearance to the wearer and did thwart amorous ambitions if they became too overt.

According to one girl friend they were also a bit on the impractical side in times of dire urinary emergency, in which it was sometimes difficult to get them down quickly enough.

My first steady girlfriend wore a panty girdle always. While she was quite ardent in physical affection, she would not remove the garment or choose alternative garb for dates. Frustration prevailed – as it should have, no doubt, in the days before the birth-control pill.

My second steady began with a panty girdle when we were first dating, but ultimately abandoned it. This was reflective of two things. One was that change in fashions that was manifesting in the 1960s, and the other was my plaintive and whiny entreaties.

“Why aren’t you wearing your panty girdle these days?” her mother once asked when she was emptying the washer.

“Because Ian doesn’t like them,” she replied, unthinkingly.

“HMMM!” responded her mother, a little too loudly.

The panty girdle died a deserved death from the mid 1960s on. It died for a number of reasons, but the first one was fashion. The mini-skirt came into vogue, and simultaneously, so did pantyhose. The old-fashioned garters and stockings (the only ‘good’ thing about panty girdles) were relegated to past tense.

It was also a more sexually liberated time, thanks to the pill and changing mores in those pre STD days. If a girl had a pretty bum she wanted to show off both cheeks of it. Thoughtful of them, I’d say. Furthermore, despite the minis, girls regularly were decked out in jeans by that time, and panty girdles just looked plain silly under jeans.

I welcomed the change, as did most females. But, you’ll forgive me for the tiny nostalgia pang with that Mad Men episode. Those ‘weren’t’ the days, but they had their moments.



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33 Comments:

Blogger Leesa said...

When I was in high school, we were told that the sexual revolution had to do with two things: (1) the pill, and (2) the popularity of the automobile. The pill gave you the protection you needed, and the car gave you a place to remove the panty girdle.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Get Off My Lawn! said...

It was alwyas the parents you needed to get past. Underwear has never been a barrier. Just an expression of parenthood.

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Blogger andrea said...

Panty girdles under jeans! Now THAT would be a fashion sttement with today's low-rise models! Didn't those things strangle your thighs?

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Blogger meggie said...

This had me laughing out loud. I remember those ghastly garments. I never had much bum then, being very slim~ it was the evidence of any belly that was the thing to tame!
I hated any restrictive garb, though, & was glad to see the end of them.
I did so enjoy the Mad Men series.

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