My Life in Pantyhose; or, a Girl Begins Work in the 1980s.

“I used to counsel young women never to do two things, or not to do them in conjunction: 1. learn to type; 2. buy pantyhose.”


My Life in Pantyhose

“Also, pantyhose are by nature awful.”

1. Nothing beats a great pair.

See the commercial that goes with the print ad here.

“ I had read an article in a major newspaper claiming that women felt naked without nylon on their legs; I was going to be a woman, so I had to feel the same way.”

“I’d look at flyers for typists who offered their services at a dollar a page, and I thought how lovely it would be to make money; but even more than that, I wanted to be loved.”

2. Elegance means more than clothes.

“The ‘executives’ found my seriousness adorable.”

“In the end I had a face that was not really a face, the way I feel when looking at plastic surgery now.”

3. Massages, stimulates, and refreshes old fetishes.

Bettie Page.

“Pantyhose provided double protection for an area subject to immodest exposure as a girl walked around, and avoided the bulges where a garter belt cut into the flesh and garters rippled.”

4. A man can overlook a lot.

“He sat on the toilet and dictated what he called ‘fantasy quotes’ to me, which I dutifully typed out on index cards just a foam-core door away.”

Big Boy demanded pantyhose.

5. Heads will turn, you know it’s true; all eyes can’t help but notice you.

“Boring jobs with access to office equipment will keep our friendship strong.”

6. (S)he forgot one basic rule.

“Men complain about women’s periods but I’ve never known a menstrual period that could compete with a dude’s bowels for attention and interference in the workday.”

“Somebody decided it looked better for all the girls to be standing around the guy, who grinned as we teetered in our heels.”

7. They help you; they hold you (back).

“I was tangled up in pantyhose and trying to be a good girl, a good employee, and somewhat happy with what I was doing.”

“ The boss also told me that I needed to work on my confidence and on not letting myself seem weak in any way…. I wondered why she was implicitly telling me she was having trouble in her marriage.”

Orientalism in the sock drawer.

“There was also an oppression of women by women, and it wore a smile and a pair of L’eggs and claimed to belong to a sisterhood.”

8. Problems seem to disappear … ?

“For years I haven’t needed pantyhose at all, but as I noted parenthetically many pages ago, they are the governing metaphor of my early work life.”

“Wherever I am, I’m always aware of pantyhose.”

As visual and aural aids, enjoy a playlist of pantyhose commercials (WARNING: MAJOR EARWORMS):

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True stories. Honestly.

An interdisciplinary magazine of nonfiction narratives and artwork.

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