Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Fruit of the Loom: They're Not Exactly Delicates, but Author Norah Vincent Struggles to Not Hit the "Add to Cart" Button Anyway

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Fruit of the Loom: They're Not Exactly Delicates, but Author Norah Vincent Struggles to Not Hit the "Add to Cart" Button Anyway

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

WHEN I WAS A SOPHOMORE in college I had a poster of the Soloflex guy hanging on my wall. You know the one I mean. The iconic one, where a guy with an astonishingly sculpted torso is taking off his shirt. He has his arms crossed over his head, and the shirt is obscuring his eyes and most of his face, except for his kissably shadowed mouth.

Back then, subliminal advertising was the rage, or playing at deciphering it was. Common wisdom on this poster said that you could make out the wordfuck in the shadows on Mr. Soloflex's abs. I knew I could. I made it out every day, tracing it with my eyes as I lay on my bed worshipping the curves and hollows of this man's form.

F-U-C-K. Yes indeed.

Thing was, of course, I didn't want to efyouseekay this man. I wanted to want to. I wanted my fellow students to think I wanted to. But the truth was, I didn't want him. I wanted to be him. I wanted to inspire in women the adoring gaze I lavished on his image. He was, after all, not a man to me. He was not flesh. He was light printed on paper. He was a borrowed idea of sexual power, a two-penny evocation of desire, without eyes or a face, just a silent, waiting, conquering mouth with arms, chest, belly, and, yes, just below the frame, crotch, in the wonderfully, wildly paradoxic posture of muscle-bound surrender. Safe. Anonymous. Clean.

I should have been a gay man, I thought. How else, I wondered--while looking at all the straight men I knew--would I have any hope of (a) having lickable abs, (b) learning how to dress, and most important, (c) fulfilling my secret desire to be a male underwear model?

But then Marky Mark came along, grinning, semisheepish in his Calvin Kleins, and offered a glimmer of hope that you could like and want to attract girls and still look like a god in your skivvies. Of course there were my two X chromosomes to deal with, not to mention the thrift-store fashion sense that seems to come coded into the dyke gene. …

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