Why are Tighty Whiteys dorky?

Childhood called, it wants its underwear back.

Ask A Woman: The Tighty Whitey Part Deux.

You're hovering a bit there bucko.

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Dear Beth:

I recently read your post on “Are Tighty Whiteys the male Granny Panties?” and, in spite of knowing the reputation of the notorious white brief, I continue to wear them on a regular basis. I’m a personal trainer, so I need something functional for moving around at the gym. It’s embarrassing to buy briefs because of the negative connotations associated with them, but I don’t feel unattractive or immature wearing them. My wife says she likes them, yet she teases me for wearing them.

So, I guess my question is this: Is there a difference in the appeal of “Tighty Whiteys” and other colors of briefs, or are they all considered dorky? If so, what makes white such a poor color choice?

- Tom

 

Hi Tom,

For me, what makes Tighty Whiteys dorky is that they remind me of what little boys wore when I was a kid. I don’t have any specific memories of seeing my male friends or cousins in their underwear, but I just associate this particular undergarment with being a child.

There are also the cultural references to Tighty Whiteys that reinforce this dorky connotation. Captain Underpants. Walter White (yes, bad-ass anti-hero but still nerdy science dude). Sponge Bob Squarepants. There is even an organization devoted to abolishing the Tighty Whitey. We’ve just decided, culturally, that white briefs = NERD ALERT, the same way we’ve decided that thick black framed glasses are nerdy (though the hipsters have rescued that look), as is wearing white athletic socks pulled up to the knee paired with shorts. Could it also be that because white briefs are the plainest, most basic of underwear, they’re considered dweeby? Maybe.

underwear trajectory

Notice, if you will, the trajectory briefs initiate.

You shouldn’t feel embarrassed if you like them and they work for you, especially in a professional capacity. I mean, if the dude in the jorts decides he likes rocking that thigh-denim and he owns it, I say bravo. What I don’t say is, hey there fashionisto! You just have to accept that this is a style area where you’re choosing to be a nerd. No shame, brah. Here’s another example. I wear terrible things when I’m lounging in my house or while walking my dogs. Terrible. I have a pair of baggy shorts that look like they were made from a fishing hat. I wear those bad boys all summer long, and it’s not flattering at all. But that’s okay; this is an area where I am comfortable being hapless. No one sees those briefs except your wife and maybe a couple dudes in the locker room, right? And no one sees my awful shorts except my husband and the other people walking their dogs and they look worse than I do (I kid).

To your question about whether colored briefs are better: I’d say, yeah, but marginally so. The tightness of the brief is part of the dorkitude, and you don’t escape that with color. So don’t worry about it. If you like the white brief and it makes it easier to do some sick dead lifts at the gym, wear it.

There is one cultural icon who wore Tighty Whiteys and actually made it cool. Tom Cruise lip syncing in Risky Business. If your wife is a child of the 80s, she might dig a lil’ reenactment. Reward that gal for supporting your underwear habits.

-Beth

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