Last night, I did something I swore, when I heard of it the first time, I’d never do.
I went to an Underbear party. If you’ve never heard of such a thing before, it’s pretty simple. As part of the annual Southern Hibearnation in Melbourne, there’s a night at the pub where all the attendees strip down to their underwear, there’s a bit of a dance party going on inside, and the entire place is full of blokes in their underpants. It was fairly obvious that some people normally go commando, so by the time they’d stripped off, they didn’t have any underwear left, but that only just added to the vibe of the night.
Amongst others, our closest friend in Melbourne since we’ve arrived had been encouraging us to go to such an event almost since the day we arrived. He’d have been keen for us to go to the Underbear for Southern Hibearnation 2011, but having gone last night, I can safely say that Preston v.2011 could never have gone.
This year was a bit of a different story though. As recently as a few months ago, I was still saying I wouldn’t go, but then something finally snapped for me, and it was easy enough to get there. Funnily enough, one of the biggest things that had been holding me back was being told “Relax, there’ll be bigger guys than you there.” That’s a dual-edged argument of course – it equally means that there’d have been guys looking at me thinking “At least I’m not as big as him!”
I think getting over it was as simple as making that mental switch from “I’ll be there in my undies” to “Everyone else will ALSO be there in THEIR undies”.
Safety in numbers?
Most likely – hidden in plain sight. Sure, you’re in your underwear, but everyone else is, so there’s an anonymity to it that you actually don’t really appreciate until you’re there. I’d rationalised the entire process – I’d have a few drinks for dutch courage before going, I’d likely have a mild panic attack just as I arrived at Collingwood station, I’d be slightly grumpy for the first ten minutes, and then I’d start to settle.
As soon as I got to the cloak room and started stripping off, I found it humorously enjoyable. Not in a laugh-at-the-mostly-naked-guys scenario, but at the absurdity of life in general. We spend our lives worrying about what others think of how we might look – and in the bear community this is even more strongly the case. Body image problems? The bear community has them in spades. I have them in spades. So how ironic, and crazy was it that I was going somewhere to effectively strip off in public?
Yet, like the rest of my clothes, those body image problems fell to the floor and ended up in a numbered bag in the cloak room all night.
And it felt good. Just me and my ironic mask.