I went to Victoria’s Secret yesterday to pick out a new bra and some underwear. It was just another stop during an afternoon of shopping. I walked in the door and immediately began looking for the bra I needed. I lifted up a few and casually sorted through different lacey things much as I would through a stack of apples in the produce section of a grocery store. But then I had a flashback to a time when a trip to Victoria’s Secret was a much more significant event. When I was younger, just the name alone conjured enough imagery to set most men to hyperventilating. Drawers filled to overflowing with little lacey things. Sheer fabrics and delicate straps in a myriad of feminine colors and fabrics. Little naughty things that begged to be touched or caressed. The air filled with exotic soft fragrances. And throughout, women lifting things up against their bodies or trying them on just out of view. It was more than most men could bear. But what if you were Transgender as I was? In my case, this forbidden playground was unimaginably exciting and thrilling. Far more than any amusement park could ever be.
As a child, my only encounters with lingerie were my mother’s. This was in the 1960’s and at that time girdles and stockings, slips and camisoles were still in common usage. Most lingerie was white or pink or nude. I knew too well that my mother didn’t possess anything in a racey color like red or black. Those colors were reserved for shameless wanton women with questionable morals. But during that time I remember seeing a neighbor hanging a black bra on her clothesline and being absolutely riveted. That image completely consumed me. I had endless dreams of wearing one once I knew such an incredibly luscious item existed in the world.
Fast forward 10 years and there was a new store in the malls of America that sold not only black and red bras, but lingerie of every color you could imagine, Victoria’s Secret. Just the name alone was provocative. Victoria conjures the image of a proper English woman with underwear that was anything but. From the moment I heard about this magical place I desperately wanted to go into one. But, I was a young man, or at least I looked like one. What possible excuse could I have for going into Victoria’s Secret? A place exclusively the domain of women. I imagined I would get stares or disapproving looks if I were to wander into this alluring realm. Fortunately, I found a co-conspirator. My Highschool girlfriend, Sally.
Sally and I began dating when I was 17. She was the one who picked me since I was too shy to ask anyone like her out. She was much more mature than I was and very popular. She was dark, shapely, and had a somewhat sultry look about her, even at that young age. Men hit on her constantly. Later I found out she chose me because I seemed sweet and attractive but not threatening. She thought I would be safer to date and not place the sexual pressure on her that most guys did. As our relationship deepened and I began to trust her more I told her about my feminine side. She took the news better than I could have hoped. As it turned out, she really didn’t like sex and only wanted a companion. A boy that liked girly things was the ideal match for her! I couldn’t believe it. She actually wanted me to try some of her things on! Initially, it was overwhelming and wonderful. I was thrilled, but there was one problem. I was 6 feet tall and she was 5'3". Her things didn’t really fit me. And she pointed out how I was stretching her clothes out by wearing them. It became apparent that I needed a wardrobe of my own.
So our first shopping excursion began. We decided I needed a few skirts and tops, a nice dress and a pair of black heels. Sally was wonderful. We walked the aisles of the stores and she would hold things up in front of her, but I would be standing close enough that she was simultaneously holding them up for me. There were a few awkward moments when I felt silly or embarrassed, but mostly I was just thrilled to death. The woman at the check-out register questioned the size 10 shoes when she looked at Sally, but Sally didn’t miss a beat and just said that they were for a “friend.” The woman nodded and rang them up. I felt like I was walking on clouds as we exited the store with my very first wardrobe! Just when I couldn’t imagine things being any better, Sally said, “now we need to get you some lingerie.” “Lingerie?” I asked incredulously. “Of course,” she said matter of factly. “You can’t keep stretching out mine.” “Where?” I asked, but I knew. There was only one place in the mall to buy lingerie, Victoria’s Secret.
As we approached the store I thought of all the times I had “casually” walked past it trying to see everything in the display windows while at the same time trying very hard not to look like I was. My heart would pound in my chest and my breathing increased every time, and this time was no different. As we walked through the door and I inhaled my first breath of the fragrance-filled air I began to feel dizzy. After a few steps inside Sally noticed that I was visibly wobbling. “Are you OK?” she asked, concerned. “I don’t know,” I answered. “ I think I’m just too excited.” She grabbed my arm and helped me to a bench near the changing rooms where a few other wide-eyed men were sitting. They all looked very uncomfortable, but perhaps not for the same reasons. “Just take a few deep breaths,” Sally instructed. “You have to try and calm down.” “Okay,” I answered looking around. It was everything I had imagined and more. The displays were arranged as if this were Victoria’s private boudoir. The bras and panties were arranged in dresser-like displays with a few on top and then each drawer below with the same item in different colors and sizes. The variety of items and colors displayed artfully in the store seemed to be laid out as if in the dream bedroom of an incredibly sophisticated and tasteful woman. After a few minutes of breathing, I said, “I think I’m okay now.” Sally helped me up and with my bag of outer garments under one arm, she and I began strolling around the store looking at the different items. “You’ll need a bra or two and probably a few pairs of panties.” We can get nylons here, but maybe we should just get pantyhose so you won’t need a garter belt.” Her casual suggestions were like music to my ears as she stopped in front of a counter with bras on it. She picked one up. It was turquoise with scalloped lace demi-cups. “Would you like something like this?” She asked. “ I guess so,” I mumbled. I was embarrassed to seem too eager, and also concerned that someone might hear me. “What?” she asked a bit annoyed. “Do you like it or not?” “Yes,” I said a bit more clearly. She noticed how I seemed to be struggling. “It’s okay,” she reassured. “Everyone just thinks your my sweet boyfriend who’s shopping with me. “It’s really not that unusual.” I looked around and noticed that there were a few men in the store. I wasn’t the only male in the place. I began to feel a bit more comfortable. As our excursion continued, my sense of ease increased and I genuinely began to enjoy myself. We even picked out a naughty black bra and matching panty. I was unbelievably thrilled as we walked out of the store with my very own Victoria’s Secret underwear!
That was many years ago now and I’ve shopped in Victoria’s Secret stores many times since then. I’ve been with numerous girlfriends to buy something naughty for us and then later as I transitioned, I bought things for myself. Now, I have even shopped with boyfriends who were as overwhelmed as I once was. As it turned out, they were as excited to buy something for me as I once was for myself. That was a major revelation. During all those years and experiences Victoria’s Secret has held a place of significance to me. It is a reminder of the miles I’ve traveled in this Transgender journey. From a time when it seemed a forbidden wonderland to yesterday when I shopped almost unconsciously. After recognizing the moment, I had a private smile and a friendly wink to Victoria and all her store has meant to me.