The Conversation is known for tackling weighty matters in politics and science, but it isn’t all about heavy topics.
While it’s no stranger to breaking the latest in health developments, or providing commentary on the economy or business matters, the website has published a surprisingly thought-provoking piece on the history of undies. Yes, underpants. And it contains some eye-opening and interesting facts about what most people wear under their skirts, dresses, shorts and trousers. (But not necessarily under their kilts!)
For one, the report suggests that like many things in the world, briefs are currently being transformed by technology. New high-performance undies can apparently emit soothing vibrations and even help people with flatulence issues. They’ve certainly come a long way from the loincloth worn by ancient Egyptians, which were actually considered outerwear back in the day.
Read more: The mortifying day my undies fell down
Another interesting tidbit is that in the middle ages, padded codpieces were added to the underpants of men for added protection. Men apparently used the codpiece to make their genitals look better, rather than covering them up. If that wasn’t enough, underwear wasn’t always easy to remove and put on.
By the 19th century, people realised they needed to make underpants easier for wearers to relieve themselves, so changes were made to make going to the toilet even easier. Also in the 19th century, long johns grew in popularity for men, while women began wearing knickers from 1916.
What’s most interesting though is what technology has in store for underpants in the present and future. According to The Conversation, advancements in fibre technologies and knitting manufacturing has meant brands have been able to create underwear that enhance sexual pleasure simply by wearing them.
One type causing waves around the world is Fundawear – underpants that can vibrate with the touch of a button through an app. These underpants contain actuators, similar to what makes a mobile phone vibrate. When activated through an app, the wearer can experience a buzzing sensation in the nether regions. The app and underwear are typically used by couples.
Meanwhile, reusable underpants for women who are menstruating or experiencing incontinence are on the rise. These undies are made from bamboo, merino wool and microfibre fabrics, allowing fluid to draw away from the body without escaping the waterproof layer. What’s more, they can be washed and reused, preventing the need for women to purchase pads and adult nappies.
And for those with farting problems or a bad habit with gas, flatulence-filtering underwear is on the rise. It uses the same activated carbon material found in chemical suits. Medical underwear has also been developed and is helping prevent the spread of infection or wounds.