Taking Stock (of my lingerie drawer)

stocking_by_ggamero I stood next to the pile of Victoria’s Secret stuff, and counted the years since I last wore it. I’m middle-aged now. Would I still be able to carry it off?



Stock-taking is the physical verification of the quantities and condition of items held in an inventory. This may be done to provide an audit of existing stock valuation.

For the past two weeks I have been taking stock of my belongings, in preparation for a big move-out from my current living space. First I went through my clothes. This is something I tend to do every year, as we move from winter to spring, so I am accustomed to making the decisions based on “Did I wear this in the last year? Will I wear it in the next year?” But as I made my way through drawer after drawer, I realized I needed to make my decisions using stricter criteria.  It became particularly clear to me when I made my way to the lingerie drawer. I know many women (and men) like to wear lingerie. It makes them feel pretty. They like the way it slides on their skin. I’ve never liked wearing it. I much prefer getting naked with a lover. I find skin a far more powerful aphrodisiac than bits of silk and lace. But, over the years, I’ve had lovers who loved lingerie. And I wanted the orgasms those lovers gave me when I wore it. So I bought it and wore it and kept it, even after the last of those relationships had ended. I suppose I thought I might have another of those lovers, one whose libido depended on the novelty of garters and push-up bras. My last lover, in a long-term relationship that ended six months ago, was also a fan of naked skin, so provoking desire with sexy clothes, for the last eight years, has been an issue as unexamined as the lingerie drawer has been. I stood next to the pile of Victoria’s Secret stuff, and counted the years since I last wore it. I’m middle-aged now. Would I still be able to carry it off? I picked out an expensive bra and corset with garters and slid my way into black seamed stockings. As I swiveled in front of the full-length mirror, for my imaginary future lover, I thought, “I look sexy enough.” But here’s the big thing –it wasn’t comfortable, physically or psychically. I had a familiar and troubling sensation deep in my gut. It was the feeling I used to get when I put on those clothes, knowing I was doing it for one reason only–to please the man. I stripped it all off, and the feeling faded away. And that’s when I identified the key point -the Cheryl in the lingerie is not the real Cheryl. She’s a fabricated person, created for effect. She’s a sexual object. She’s not me, and she never was. I tossed all that lingerie into the Goodwill box, thinking “If he wants me, he has to take me like I am.” And as I trundled the bags down the street to give them away, I found myself feeling lighter, and empowered. It feels good to give up the idea of making myself over into something I am not. I realize I never wanted to do it – not even the first time. I did it because I felt like I was not enough. I’m not suggesting that anyone else should feel the way I do. People who love lingerie should wear it, and more power to them. But for me, it carries a sense of self-betrayal. I am done with that. In the days since I gave away the sexy clothes, I have identified the main emotion that caused that sense of self-betrayal. It’s regret—for having capitulated to a belief that five ounces of artfully constructed expensive fabric makes me more desirable. Had I held out for lovers for whom, like me, skin is the most powerful aphrodisiac, might I have been happier in my love life? I think so. That lightness I felt, coming back from Goodwill, was the regret falling away. Now I am armed to take on the rest of my taking stock. I now know how to determine which stuff to get rid of. If it causes me regret, it’s time to let it go. I moved on to the books.


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