A neighbor recently emailed me an article extolling the merits of women going commando (that’s the practice of not wearing underwear, for those unfamiliar with the phrase). Said neighbor – a man in his mid-70s – thought it might be a good topic for my Boomer Haiku blog.
So, setting aside the question of why a 75-year-old man is reading about the purported benefits women not wearing panties, I figured I could at least look into this apparent pop culture phenomenon. Here’s what I learned:
Proponents of the practice (also called free-buffing for women, according to Wikipedia) wax poetic about comfort, no dreaded VPL (visible panty line), how it reduces infections (since your nether region can breathe free, unencumbered by moisture-trapping panties), you don’t suffer wedgies and, gosh darn it, it just feels sexy.
There’s even a National Commando Day (May 31st) with its own slogans like “No undies, no problem!” and “Women who don’t wear underwear never get their panties in a bunch.” Who knew?
Then, of course, there are the female celebrities who model the practice on the red carpet, where VPL is strictly verboten by the fashion police. Still other celebs apparently go commando to give the paparazzi a payday; famous free-buffers caught on camera flashing their lady garden when exiting cars in short skirts include Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. And who can forget Sharon Stone’s provocative “is-she-or-isn’t-she-wearing-underwear” scene in the movie Basic Instinct?
If you’re with me so far, you may have deduced a certain demographic trend: most women who opt to go commando are decidedly NOT boomers. I would suggest there’s one particularly compelling reason for this: leakage.
At least 50% of postmenopausal women experience some degree of stress incontinence. For some, maybe it’s just the occasional little squirt when we laugh, sneeze, cough or exercise. Nonetheless, given a choice between a VPL and a VWS (visible wet spot), my hunch is most of us opt for the layer of protection that underwear affords.
And frankly, what with thongs, boyshorts, laser-cut panties and shapewear like Spanx, there are plenty of underwear options that pretty much eliminate VPL to begin with.
For other women, incontinence (either stress incontinence or urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder) is frequent and severe enough to warrant wearing pads or adult diapers (more euphemistically referred to these days as “protective underwear”). Going commando isn’t remotely on their radar screens – but a visit to a urogynecologist should be.
Because the fact is, incontinence isn’t an inevitable part of getting older. That’s a myth. And today there are multiple, effective treatments that can improve the condition in 85% to 90% of women affected by it.
From exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor to lifestyle changes, medications, neurostimulation, Botox injections (into the bladder muscle, not your crow’s feet), bulking agents in the urethra and minimally invasive urethral sling surgery – there are options. So if you (or someone you know) are limiting your activities because of incontinence, get thee to a specialist.
The biggest reason women don’t discuss incontinence with their doctors is embarrassment. Others think it’s just something they just have to live with. Ladies, let it go (you should pardon the expression). This is a common problem and, believe me, doctors understand. More importantly, they can help.
Then, just think…if you’re willing to relinquish the Spanx for controlling the jiggly bits we seem to acquire by midlife, you too can go commando. Just watch out for the paparazzi.
My take on free-buffing?
is for the young at heart or
those with younger parts.
What do you think about women going commando? Would you? Do you? And why or why not?