I was eleven or twelve when Sunshine burst into the bedroom I shared with Straighten Up! and presented me with a wrinkled ball of nylon in a color I had not seen on any human legs — least of all mine. “Take this, Lynne!” she demanded. “You need to wear these!” “What are these? Tights? What color…” “Do these look like tights to you?!” Sunshine thundered. “These are pantyhose!”
Actually, they did look like tights to me. Thin ones. Oddly colored. But, yes. Tights. “Put these on with your dresses! You don’t go around bare-legged! You need something on your legs and you’re too big for tights!” But, I wear tights every week in ballet class!
She must’ve meant to say I was too old. Straighten Up! hadn’t been offered a nylon ball. Too young. Yeah. That was it. The wrinkled ball was starting to look familiar now. Yes, of course. Sunshine wore these things.
I took the ball and unfurled it. Two legs sewn onto a…er…panty? Oh, right. Panty. Hose. Put the two words together and … “You make sure you put some panties on under these, Lynne! Don’t just put ’em on!” Her motherly mission completed, Sunshine began to leave.
Now wait a minute. I have to put on a pair of panties with pantyhose? The panty was attached to the hose. There it was right there. The panty. The hose. Assuming they haven’t been worn by someone else, couldn’t you just wear them without a problem? “Wearing panties with pantyhose is stupid,” I complained. “Why, do I have to do that?” Sunshine spun around furiously and stomped back to where I was standing.
“You mean to tell me you’re trying not to wear panties out of this house?!!” Huh? No, I… “You better put some panties on, Lynne!” I’ve got panties on. I just… “Don’t you go out of this house without panties on! What’s the matter with you?!” Go out of the house without panties on? What’s the matter with YOU, mom? I’m a girl. I wear panties. She turned to leave again. This time, I let her go.
According to Wikipedia, pantyhose are designed to:
- be attractive in appearance
- ease the chafing between the foot and the footwear, or between the thighs
- keep the legs and feet warm
- hide physical imperfections such as blemishes, bruises, scars, hair, or varicose veins
Sunshine didn’t have Wikipedia, of course, but she must’ve totally believed in the magic of pantyhose. She had lots of balled up, lotion scented pairs in her lingerie drawer. She had other interesting pieces in her collection, too. Pointy longline bras that must’ve taken twenty or thirty minutes to get into and out of. She had regular bras, too – still pointy and all white. She had garters and loose leg stockings. And she had control panties and girdles so firm they could stand up by themselves.
I gave pantyhose every chance during my teens and early twenties. I found colors I liked better than the one Sunshine had chosen and I found some better brands. Over the years, they got silkier and smoother and stronger and leggier and whatever. There were sandalfoot styles and reinforced heels and toes. There were patterned hose, sheer and super sheer. Hosiery has come a long way, baby, from the wrinkled ball my mother presented to me years ago, but I never grew to like the sweaty, constricting and unnecessary contraption.
By my mid-twenties I’d given them up altogether and dared to “go out bare-legged.” You won’t catch me wearing hose during the summer even if I have on a dress. I wear sundresses and skirts with sandals, wedges, pumps and flip-flops. During the winter, I wear pants with boots or dresses with boots. I wear Spanx or their functional equivalent to keep things smooth, but I stay far away from the breath-defying, foundation garments my mother trusted.
When I was about fourteen, Sunshine tried to get me to wear a panty girdle so “you won’t be jiggling around,” but I refused. I’d seen what those panty girdles could do to a body. No natural movement and the sexy one-butt-cheek look. No way was I going for that. I preferred taking in free air and whatever jiggle I had, I wanted to keep. Still do.