I Am An Adult Man And I Have Never Bought Myself A Pair Of Underpants

It was a stunning realisation and it came to me like a repressed flashback. I must have read the word 'underpants' combined with the word 'shopping' somewhere — perhaps on Twitter or Facebook — and like an involuntary reflex I asked myself: when was the last time you bought yourself a pair of underpants.

Pictures: Getty Images

My mind drew a blank. A terrifying blank. Then, an understanding so terrifying that I almost said it aloud, just to make it real. It can't be. Surely.

"I... don't think... I've ever bought myself a pair of underpants before."

Please allow me to introduce myself: my name is Mark Serrels and I'm 32 years old. I lived at home with my parents until the age of 20. Then I moved out for my fourth year of university. Shortly before my graduation a junkie broke into my house and set the place on fire so I was forced to move back home until six months later, when I moved to Japan where I lived for almost two years. During that period I met the woman who would, three years later, become my wife. We've been together ever since.

That was an 'establishing paragraph' and this is what I wanted to establish: I am not a mummy's boy who lived at home until he got married and swapped a doting mother for a wife. I lived alone, in the world, for a very long period of time. The transition was not seamless. It was clunky. I lived life, I travelled; I experienced things.

I just never, for some god-forsaken reason, took it upon myself to personally walk into a store and buy myself a pair of underpants.

How did it come to this point?

I made the underpants admission on Facebook last night and the response was, for the most part, one of complete disbelief. How was this possible? How does someone spend 32 years on this planet without purchasing a pair of underpants for himself?

But there was a rogue element. A small percentage of men who started to delve deep into their own souls. They looked inside themselves, they grimaced as they filtered through decades of memories. Soon they made the same realisation.

I was not alone.

Some men buy underpants. They drive to Westfield, they park their cars. They go shopping and on their to-do list is a note that says 'buy underpants' — so of course underpants are often bought by men.

But, for some reason, underpants are something that are often bought for men. They are bought by parents when you're a child and (possibly) a teenager. Then later they are often bought as gifts. Buying a man a three-pack of Bonds or Calvins as a stocking filler is actually quite common. Giving a woman underwear as a gift is a sexualised taboo — in the wrong context it's beyond creepy — but buying underwear for men is as common and harmless as arriving to a house-warming party with a box of chocolates.

Also: for some reason, after a period of time, my girlfriend began buying underpants for me. Not in a sexy kind of way. I'm talking about your bog-standard, functional underpants. She'd come home from the shops and underpants would be nestled in the bag next to whatever other household goods she had acquired during that particular trip. I'm trying to refrain from making any generalisations here, but this was something she clearly saw as her role in the relationship. I have no idea why but, in my own particular pairing, my wife took it upon herself to buy me underwear. It is simply the way it is and has been for the past six years.

No-one likes to think of themselves as a consciously sexist person — including me — but it's difficult to see this situation as anything but a weird piece of institutional sexism in action. Why did my girlfriend subconsciously decide it was her role to replace my mother as 'underwear buyer-in-chief'? Why did I let it happen without protest? Why did it never occur to me to buy purely functional underwear for my wife? In a strange way we are both victims of some weird sexist structures.

Well, I'm not really a victim. I guess I'm a beneficiary. And the benefit is... underpants. Underpants for all! But only if you're a dude.

But here's the thing. Now that I've made myself fully aware of the situation, all I want to do is run to the nearest store and buy some underwear. I want break free of these (under)shackles, I want this world to push forward towards a new horizon of underwear equality.

And hopefully that equals progress. Underpants progress.

Anyone else want to make underwear shopping confessions? We're all ears in the comments.


    Well, there's something I can file away under "Things I didn't think I needed to know but now do."

    I seem to buy new pairs when I know there's a chance someone else might see them... so not often. :P

    Love the article! Now you've shattered my illusions. I must now confront my inner demons. I... have also not ever bought myself a pair of underwear. It boggles my mind. How do I always have enough?

    I hate buying new pairs, but I do it.
    Mums and girlfriends buy them because they often get stuck with doing the laundry and see stretched out holey, faded undies and decide they need replacing because you seem to dumb to do it for yourself.

    I would make fun......then I realized I too am 32 and have never brought underwear. I lived with my parents til I was 21, then I got married and moved out......I dont even know how, underwear is just always in my draw.

    If my wife leaves me Im dead.....I'll never make it out in the world

    Last edited 15/08/13 3:12 pm

      Your wife leaves, you'll go commando.

    My husband refuses to buy himself underpants during the week in his lunch hour because he thinks the sales person may suspect that he has pood himself?!

      Well if you buy one pair while sweating profusely and looking panicked and smelling funny then yeah, that probably is what they'll think. If you're calm and happy and buying 5-10 pairs at once then I doubt there'll be a problem.

    I applaud your writing skills Mark. An article about underpants and you made it interesting!

    I read the entire article waiting for the
    3. Profit!


    But it never came :(

    LOL @ "Also: for some reason, after a period of time, my girlfriend began buying underpants for me. Not in a sexy kind of way. I’m talking about your bog-standard, functional underpants."

    That "some reason" is that it is not as sexy to have faded underpants with holes in them as men think. Apparently, girls don't agree with Garth from Wayne's World "It's kinda like a new pair of underwear. At first it's constrictive, but after a while it becomes a part of you."

    Girls learn quickly that it's a much better course of action to buy your boyfriend a new pair of underpants and secretly throw the old ones away than it is to try to convince him that the sexy torn pair he always wears is actually god-awful and he should go and buy a new pair.

    My wife buys me underpants and T-shirts often because I agreed to let her throw one item of my clothing away anytime she buys a replacement.

    It's win-win :)

    My friends wife died a few years back. They'd been together for something like 60 years. He barely knew how to make toast. It wasn't because his wife was some sort of slave there to cook at his ever whim, it was just the way their team worked. It wasn't about sexist gender roles they just had a truly symbiotic relationship where she washed the dishes and he dried the dishes for so long that neither one of them could do the others job.
    They're both incredibly accomplished people. Successful careers, great kids (and later grand kids), real full lives. They did a really good job at everything they tried and part of that is probably due to the way they worked together.

    I really hope that when I get married I won't even realise that I never brought my own socks again or that my wife never had to take out the garbage again. If I'm living my life in a relationship where there's no sides or scoreboards, and we both just sort of do all the little things to make each other happier without realising it, I think that'd be everything I could want.

      Wow. I wish marriage was like that!

      Dude, if you find someone who you can keep that kind of relationship up with long-term, never let go!

      Let's just say - when 50% of marriages end in divorce; "no sides or scoreboards" isn't the way most married couples would describe their relationship.

    24... First pair I ever bought was this year. Because I'd moved out and didn't have a washing machine for a while.

    I read the headline - first thought - "I don't remember typing that."

    I suspect your wife got sick of seeing baggy, worn out undies with holes in them, and just decided to replace them the next time she went shopping.

    34 and I can count the times I've bought underwear on 1 hand - well maybe 2 fingers.

    But I chalk it up to the fact that the missus never has to concern herself about where the next episode of Next Top Model is coming from - just that it is available for her to watch when she wants to.

    This really is unbelievable to me. Not just that one guy hasn't, but that there are so many guys out there who haven't.

    This was one of the surprising and terrible things I had to learn how to do when I first left home. I have never received underwear as a gift. c.c Now I have to go and interrogate my friends and family to ask them why they've never bought things for me to put my balls in.

      I laughed at the last line a little louder than I probably should have.

      Thank you! These people are weird, apart from a 2-pack of CK boxers from a well-meaning uncle for Christmas one year, I've been buying my own from the day I moved out. If an SO prefers I wear a certain style then there's some room for negotiation, but as long as they're happy to interact with my junk, I'm just as happy to take care of the admin side of things.

    Weirdly, my partner enjoys it when I purchase underwear for him (although he also purchases his own too)

    In uni now, but been buying my own since high school. I just don't trust other people to buy something like that, I'm way to picky about the finer details.

    Last edited 16/08/13 5:18 pm

    I realised I had never purchased my own underpants at the age of 27, so off I went to the shops to finally 'become a man'. When i got home with my new purchase I decided to try them on. They were so tight that i thought my little man was going to do a hulk move and burst out in a very angry manner. Turns out underwear comes in different sizes, I had just grabbed some off the shelf and away I went. I took the remaining pairs back and have never purchased underwear for myself again.

      I had a devil of a time initially finding anything that fit. For some bizarre reason, some underwear manufacturers think that underwear should come in one template, then you just scale it up or down, depending on waist size.

      ...No. So if you have a thin waist, then yeah, your package is going to get crushed because they think that you must be similarly tiny down there. If anything, the opposite is true. (Though it's probably a trick of juxtaposition.)

      Bonds really comfy undies have provided a nice shortsy-but-snug alternative to wearing boxers all the time. As an added bonus, the ladies seem to approve of them too.

    38, lived single for around 5 years, married for 11, divorced now for about 3.

    Never bought underpants. I have a drawer FULL of them. Why would I need to buy more?

    Where did they come from? No idea, I assume the ex-wife and mother...

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now