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FIRST it was boobs, now it’s bums. They’re everywhere!

Some time ago on these pages I was fulminating about the proliferation of cleavage.

It was everywhere too. In the shops, on the streets, in the pubs and clubs, on public transport, leaning over balconies and garden decks, and of course, all over the beach and even, Heaven forfend, in the local churches and other sacred places.

Women of all ages, sizes and shapes were letting it all hang out, so to speak, and most red blooded blokes would be going cross-eyed trying to avoid glancing down into those deep alluring chasms. It would never have happened in my mum’s day.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it, as they say in Seinfeld! People have the right to wear whatever they like, even if in the case of the female upper hampers, it can be disturbingly distracting….particularly at traffic lights.

But now I’ve noticed a new phenomenon emerging. Bums.

Yep, I now we’ve all got them in various dimensions but generally they are a part of the anatomy that needs to be discreetly garbed.

Both sexes are to blame.

We all know about the dreaded “plumber’s crack” and I won’t elaborate on that.

I don’t know about you but I find it hard to enjoy my extra-hot large cappuccino if on an adjoining table a young woman is wearing (if that’s the word) a G-string, the top of which is peeping  over the back of her pants (often accompanied by a gruesome tattoo) or a bikini bottom that doesn’t quite embrace the entire gluteal area.

I’ve also had trouble concentrating on choosing the watermelon and avocadoes in our beachside supermarket during summer months when the fruit and vegie tables are surrounded by a bevy of young blonde backpackers in bikinis which barely cover their glisteningly bronzed charms. Nothing private about their parts!!

“Why did you buy these two mangos,” She Who Whips the Cream for the Fruit Salad asked me later as she unpacked the shopping. “You know we don’t eat mango.”

“Er,  I must have been distracted by…something,” I stammered.

And it’s the young blokes as well who love showing off their Calvin Kleins or Bonds “Reg Grundies” as if they’re some sort of enticing item of apparel. Hey guys, they’re underpants, OK!!!

But I’m not alone,  a lot of young people are not always impressed with the blatant sexualisation among their peers.

We were watching the world surf tour event at Margaret River earlier this year and in a break between events, the interviewer was talking to two young female competitors about their chances and their aspirations.

They basically said that they were having trouble attracting sponsorship because they were not as marketable as some of the other girls, even though they were better board riders.

They were referring to the current trend among female surfers to shun the traditional full-length “steamer” wetsuit in favour of; yep you guessed it, the briefest of bikini bottoms.

“We’d respect these girls more if they KICKED ass and didn’t just SHOW ass,” they said.

They were suggesting that the big money follows the “chicks” with the “ass factor” despite their indifferent wave riding talent.

And returning to items of underwear which seem to have thrust themselves out into the limelight and joined the “overwear” areas of apparel.

You can’t have helped noticing these days that the once-hidden bra strap has for some time now developed a life of its own.

It’s out there in its countless multitudes!

As far as I remember, bra straps used to be snuggled down discreetly underneath the modest bodice attire sometimes inadvertently coming loose to show a tantalizing glimpse of silky material. Very fetching as they say in the old movies.

Not anymore. I keep seeing ladies walking along the busy streets in their office wear, and I repeat NOT their sporty gear, displaying not just one bra strap, but several, sometimes all in different colours so you can’t miss them.

4. Underwear_Jane Shrimpton

Jean “Shrimp” Shrimpton in her mini skirt in Melbourne in 1965 

Sometimes the shirt or blouse is open at the back allowing the casual observer to get the full benefit of the crossover support strap.

Is it a security thing? Is it a structural issue? Do some ladies feel they are so well-endowed that they need not just one item of strappy support but a whole array of them?

I could understand and sympathise sincerely if it was a medical necessity.

Meanwhile, I can’t ignore another phenomenon which harks back to our previous anatomical discussion on the bum.

The tights. Normally black, slinky and extremely leg hugging, and even in the more generously sized people, apt to define the posterior curvature to an often alarming degree.

The black tights used to be confined to the gym and yoga classes. Not anymore, they’re also “out there” and have become the garment of choice among the female, old and young.  It’s almost as if every one of them is either on the way to an exercise session with a personal trainer or just leaving one.

And some tights come in weird “skeletal-type” patterns which give a seeming radiological impression of the bone structure of the upper leg and lower dorsal areas. Sort of like what Superman would see if he was using his X-Ray vision.

The other day a young woman down the beach was stretching out and bending over in a pair of tights that appeared to be decorated with images from the Sistine Chapel. Michaelangelo would have been turning in his mausoleum!!

But they weren’t always a ubiquitous fashion item.  Years ago they were known not very flatteringly as “pantyhose”. But I’ll move on from that one.

It all reminds me of that delightful lady, Jean “The Shrimp” Shrimpton who “scandalized” the Melbourne Cup matrons in 1965 by wearing what in today’s terms would be a fairly modest mini-skirt which ironically was not much above her knees.

I like to think I played a modest role in that incident which reached global proportions.

I was a young reporter in those days working in the Melbourne office of Sydney’s Sunday Mirror.

During the week that the gorgeous Shrimp hit town in a frenzy of media attention, I got a phone call from the legendary Brian “Hoggers” Hogben, then news editor of the paper.

“John, I want you to go to the Shrimp’s press conference and ask her this question, would you?”

“Sure boss’” I said, and grabbed my notebook and somewhat apprehensively headed off to the venue.

She was even better in the flesh than in her famous glamour shots and she looked a real doll in a blouse and thigh-nestling mini, pretty bold stuff in those days and we male journos were goggling at the sight while her then boyfriend Terrence Stamp glowered at us from the background.

I waited until all the fashion people had finished bombarding her with questions and I drew her aside and asked her The Question, as requested by Hoggers.

“How come when you wear a mini-skirt people don’t see your stocking tops?” I asked.

She gave me a look which would have withered the leaves on a full-grown gum tree, fixed me with her entrancing mascara-lined eyes and said: “I wear tights of course.” And she turned on her heel and walked away.

I raced back to the office and filed my story with the “tights” angle just a few pars down from the intro. A “slow burn” we old scribes call it. How naïve was I!

Next Sunday’s Mirror was blazing with the front page headline: “SHRIMP’S SECRET REVEALED…SHE WEARS TIGHTS!!!…OUR REPORTER’S EXCLUSIVE ON THE MINI-MYSTERY!!”

There was a lot of sniggering among my cynical colleagues when I slunk into the pub that night.

“Got your pantyhose on tonight have you Macca?”, “Gunna get TIGHT tonight mate are ya, tee hee?”  were typical hurtful barbs delivered my way.

But, it was water off a duck’s back, I just like to think that they were all jealous of the fact that I was able to share an intimate secret with one of then world’s most beautiful women!







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