“If Bacchus ever had a colour he could claim for his own, it should surely be the shade of tannin on drunken lips, of John Keat's 'purple-stained mouth', or perhaps even of Homer's dangerously wine-dark sea.”
Victoria Finlay, Colour: A Natural History of the Palette
Colour has proven a powerful phenomenon in human experience. Philosophers and artists – reaching back as far as Pythagoras and Plato – have pondered the physical and psychological nature and power of colour. Artists throughout the 20th and 21st centuries have made innovative bodies work exploring colour in its most basic and elemental form. Psychologists, too, have explored the potential and meaning found in colour, and have recognized the impact colour can make on our moods, relationships, and self-conception, and even how it can change our sense of taste and other sensual experiences.
Like many men, for years I only wore black, white, and grey underwear. Perhaps in my bolder high school days, I’d wear plaid boxers, but still, I was limited in a plain palette with little to no expressive character and a narrow conception for colour as an essential component for understanding masculinity.
But then I discovered colour. I still remember the first colourful undies I purchased, a three-pack of bright, cotton briefs while a student in grad school. They were rich cotton bikinis and the perfect kind of snug. Each pack came with some combination of red, teal, orange, purple, blue, or yellow. The first time I wore them, my girlfriend took notice, and couldn’t let it go without comment. Wearing them opened a new sense of pride and confidence, and right away I started doing a lot of selfies in my new colourful briefs. I felt bold wearing them, and they helped me to feel proud of my body.
Once that door was opened, I embraced colour, and with it has come a new understanding of masculinity. For decades, our culture has limited masculinity to a stoic, absent kind of presence, especially when it comes to wearing clothes that accentuate our bodies and sexuality. Colour has taught me that masculinity can be showy. Just take a look at cardinals – many varieties of birds, actually – so often the male bird is the one with all the colour and show. Embracing this has opened a broader and more expressive sense of myself, my masculinity, and my sexuality.
Strangely, if you were to see me on the street you probably wouldn’t notice or think anything about me and my colour choices. Like many men, I wear a limited palette of t-shirts and jeans. Underneath of these, however, I wear bright teals, yellows, blues, purples, reds, and really a whole range of colours to fashion different moods and to boldly share my inner colours with the lucky few who get to see them (I especially like the Body Aware rust colour!). The right colour, if only shared with me and partner, can make me feel bold, sexy, confident, masculine, sensual, quiet, thoughtful, and sassy.
Having this full arsenal in my drawer, it does nothing but help me express my true self and the many nuances of my masculinity. How has wearing colourful underwear enhanced your life? If you have any comments or experiences to share, I’d love to hear them.