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Underwear Enhancement, Anyone?

February 20, 2010

Did you ever worry that you might accidentally erase an important message if you just click “delete all” on your spam inbox?

Call me paranoid, but I’ve found the occasional ‘real’ message buried in the spam messages and as a result I find myself unable to just whack them all without at least scanning down the offerings to see if I recognize a sender.

Usually the end result of this daily ritual is a silent curse and a promise to stop wasting time.  But every once in a while something interesting pops up.  That’s not meant to be a veiled reference to Viagra, by the way.

For example, a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, I got a spam message that was a little different.  It was entitled “A Special Gift for that Special Valentine.”  I was, of course, suspicious, but it looked different than your usual spam message and it was from a reputable clothing manufacturer.

It turned out be junk mail in the sense that it was a message I hadn’t asked for, trying to sell me something I didn’t want.

But in some respects, it was also a portal into a world I didn’t know existed, and it’s made me think about things a little differently.

The “special gift” turned out to be something called “Enhancement Underwear.”  Of course, I’m pretty well inured to the word “enhancement,” when I see it in an unsolicited e-mail message, but I’d never heard the word in juxtaposition with “underwear.”

I hasten to point out that my first thought was not about incontinence.

I read on and my suspicions were confirmed.

You may or may not be surprised to know that most reputable underwear companies (and a lot I’d never heard of) have a product line discreetly referred to as “enhancement underwear.” 

It could be advertised as “for the man who doesn’t have everything.”

I could explain it in more detail, but it is better to let the manufacturers’ marketing people do the talking.  I cringe at the thought of the spam I’m going to be getting as a result of visiting some of these web sites, but the experience has been educational. 

First, and this is important, most companies don’t sell “enhancement underwear.”  No, they sell “enhancement solutions.”   I.e., Mr. you’ve got a problem and we’ve got just the solution.

Second, the operative word, when discussing solutions is “bulge.”  As one web site says, “Male enhancement underwear and swimwear won’t actually give you a bigger penis, but they WILL give you a big bulge that you can be proud of.” 

I think I understand the Darwinian logic in play.  Reputable universities have done research in which women were asked to rate the attractiveness of men by looking at pictures of guys sitting in cars.  Apparently, the ladies overwhelmingly ranked the same guy as better looking if he was sitting in a Porsche or Ferrari than when he was sitting in a Ford or Hyundai.  The presumption is that guys with fancy cars have more money and therefore represent a more viable option as a breeding partner, and the ladies have some sort of limbic reaction and find the guy in the fancy car more appealing.

If you play that logic out, guys with enhancement underwear should in fact get all the girls.  But one of the problems with that theory is that I thought that we had higher brain functions that, on occasion, override our reptilian brain. 

If this weren’t true, no one would ever have heard of Freud.

Nevertheless, the whole bulge obsession has amazing persistence.  I’d heard of “enhancement solutions,” before.  I remember stories my sister-in-law would tell about her days as an emergency room nurse.  A lot of times guys wearing tight pants would pass out or be knocked out in dance clubs.  Upon examination in the hospital, they would be found to have done some DIY enhancement in the form of socks, or in one case, a hot dog. 

And in the early 2000s Lee came out with something called “Packit Jeans” which were “designed to maximize ‘upfront’ appeal.” 

But what is never talked about is what happens after the Janet Jackson “reveal.”  Maybe I’m too practical but if the bogus bulge has its presumably desired effect and a liaison does in fact occur, wouldn’t you have some explaining to do when the time came?  “Uh, what happened to your bulge?”  How do you answer that question?

Anyway, as you might expect in these days of market differentiation and intense competition, there are a lot of “solutions” available.  For example, there is the “Power Pouch,” “Power Sock,” “Wonder Jock,” and of course, the “Bong Thong.” 

Regardless of which brand you choose, the same result is promised:  “With men’s enhancing underwear, you’ll have the added confidence boost of a thoroughbred stallion!” 

I don’t know about you, but this whole thing has me very confused.  For two reasons.

First, if you recall, what started this inquiry was an unsolicited e-mail with the subject line “A Special Gift for that Special Valentine.”  So presumably, one would buy this gift for someone who “needs” it.  And wouldn’t that be a sobering Valentines’ Day gift?  Sort of like a guy getting his girlfriend a padded bra.  Or a Zumba membership. 

Imagine the scene:

“Happy Valentines Day, Joe.”

“Thanks, what is it, Mary?”

“Open it and see!”

Joe opens the package, and extracts and studies the contents.  Of course he can’t say, “Thanks!  Just what I need!”  But presumably Mary thinks he does.  Any delusions of stallionhood Joe may have entertained will be forever dashed.

But then, if Joe were really in such dire need of a Power Pouch, why was Mary seeing him anyway?  Shouldn’t she have been patrolling for big-bulged Porsche owners before settling on poor old Joe?

I take the whole sad story as further proof that one of the fundamental principals of marketing is the de-evolution of the human race.  Who but a marketer would try to undermine thousands of years of evolutionary triumph of our mammalian brains over our reptilian brains by telling us that size does in fact matter.  And then selling a bulge to create the illusion of size.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2010 8:01 am

    That’s why I’m reluctant to give books, for doing so may come across as, “You’re a little on the dumb side, and reading might help.”

  2. February 22, 2010 4:21 pm

    They found these Linear A or Linear B tablets that are our only clues to ancient Crete. Or was it Cuneiform and Sumer? In any case, the texts turned out to be kitchen or personnel or shopping lists. The most banal scraps of info — from a civilization about which we would love to know so much.

    I have the recurring nightmare that the only thing left of our civilization one day will be some hard discs with … spam on them. And there, for future scholars, will be our “civilization”: viagra, mortgages, russian brides, penis enhancements.

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