Proving that an underwear model can be more than one dimension, Chris is also a determined, award-winning author.
How old were you when you started modeling?
I was 22 when I walked in to an agency for the first time and booked my first job (a Cosmo editorial) the same day.
Was it awkward removing your clothes right away?
I’m certain that when I began modeling (in 2007), I thought twice about it, but once you’re involved with something for so long, it becomes like anything else; routine…you seem to become desensitized to certain elements of it, insecurities among them.
When you did think twice about it was that because of insecurities or other personal convictions?
I think perhaps a bit of both. I was born in Manhattan but I grew up in a small suburb in North Jersey. It was unusual for me to go from that setting to suddenly being on a rooftop in Chelsea in my underwear.
In terms of insecurities, I know I had them growing up, and I don’t know when the exact moment was that I made the conscious decision to forget about them, to not care what others thought about me. I know that I must have felt tied down in the sense that I knew in the back of my mind that I would never get anywhere, never accomplish anything, if I let my actions and confidence be controlled by how others perceived me, physically or otherwise. As such, I have marched to the beat of my own tune since elementary school.
Sounds like you were a pretty strong-willed kid.
Yeah, I think I’ve always carried a chip on my shoulder. I was born two months and two days premature and I was used to people (even my own parents) telling me I couldn’t do certain things, particularly physical things (like football or track, for instance). I carry that with me in everything I do.
What else motivates you?
When I was working as a journalist at the Star-Ledger in the evenings and modeling and acting during the day, time motivated me. I had to fit in as much as I could in the time I had because I had another job, another kind of life, and I was always rushing, so close to being one step behind.
To return to the “chip on the shoulder” mentality, I think what motivates me is proving people wrong, and also proving that anything is possible, if you work hard enough. Perhaps that kind of mentality stems also from my childhood, because my parents are both immigrants (Cuba and Poland), and they grew up with not many opportunities except for the opportunity to do great things, which I think everyone inherently has.
Was there a specific instance that pushed you to change their vision of you?
I’m not sure about a specific instance, but I think I became pretty tired early on of having to rely on things like an inhaler to breathe better or even glasses to see. I don’t know exactly what happened biologically, but I outgrew my sports asthma in elementary school, and when I began wearing contacts in junior high, I just felt like I could do anything I wanted, at least physically.
What does your family think of your success now?
I am very close with my parents, but I’m really not sure what exactly they think about my success. They certainly don’t dote on me—and I’m glad—because I’ve always wanted to prove something to them and everyone, which is what makes me stay hungry.
You mentioned becoming desensitized to modeling…is that a compromise you had to make? Was it more routine or realization?
Well I acknowledged it, so it was certainly a realization, but I also think that it came from the routine of doing it every week. You start to not put so much emphasis on shooting in your underwear once you do it with such frequency; I think that goes with everything. I think ABC was cognizant of that when they offered me a few shirtless and underwear-only under-5 (under-5 lines) roles on All My Children and One Life to Live. I don’t know many actors or actresses that would take so easily to being on national television in that kind of situation, at least with a few days notice.
Have you ever had a photoshoot with a fellow model who was uncomfortable with his/her body?
It is hard to tell but I have gotten that vibe before, and it makes everyone, from the photographer to the art director, uncomfortable.
Models sometimes have an unfair rap and are seen as just beautiful and one-dimensional. Have you ever had to prove to anyone that you’re not just a model?
I think I am proving that right now, regarding my first novel, Going Down. In that story—as well as in real life—I definitely experienced odd looks and confusion from multiple people, whether at the newspaper or at photoshoots and castings, when they learned of my dual professions and interests. I think that kind of Hellenistic ideal—physical beauty and mental beauty—is something that is somehow absent from our society, not that it isn’t there, just that we don’t really look for it anymore. I have always tried to reconcile this.
Can you tell us a bit more about your journalism background?
I worked in newspapers my whole life. I began writing for The Record, the second-largest newspaper in New Jersey, when I was in high school. While I was at Lehigh, I worked as a Sports Copy Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, for three months in the summer. When I graduated from college and began modeling and acting during the day, I worked as a Sports Copy Editor and writer for The Star-Ledger. I didn’t have much of a social life for awhile…
You now have a food blog, Spooning In The City, that you write with your girlfriend. Obviously, you love food. Do you have to discipline yourself, or were you blessed with a good metabolism?
When I began modeling, I was very serious about my eating habits. Now, I laugh about it … I can’t explain it but I suppose my good fortune is genetic. My mom and dad joke that I was born without a gene that processes fat because I was born two months and two days premature. I think food is one of the most important things in life, and also one of the most underappreciated things in this culture. I take what I put in my body very seriously and I enjoy the sensual pleasures of food.
What does your girlfriend think about you modeling underwear?
I just asked her to get a specific answer and she laughed. She is not someone who gets jealous easily, and I think that certainly helps. Everything I do is for my writing anyway, and she understands that all of these experiences are enriching, no matter what they are, and so they are important to me.
You were recently awarded the the Academy of American Poets Prize and spoke during the ceremony at Lincoln Center. Tell us about that.
I started writing poetry before I wrote a word of fiction. In the second grade, actually, when my abuela died, I wrote a poem for her, so it is extremely rewarding for me to have my poetry acknowledged in this way and on this level so soon after receiving news of the book deal for my first novel, Going Down (Aignos Press, 2013).
If I may take a brief moment here to plug that (laughs), that would be great, too. It will arrive in bookstores and be available online in advance of the holiday season, probably by October or November. It’s a coming-of-age-story based on my own experiences in the fashion industry. One of the things that the protagonist (also named Chris) says toward the end of the novel really resonates in my own life, especially in regard to self-confidence: “‘The important thing is to always remember who you are … And never give any part of yourself to something other than that thing.’ … That is it, he knew. And it is everything.”
What would you say to other young men and women who are struggling with insecurities?
I really think insecurities are the worst thing we can have, and yet we all have them. They are inevitable, but what we can control is how we let them affect us. I was very conscious of them from an early age, and at the same time, I knew I couldn’t let myself be shackled by them. I think so many people in today’s world have this inferiority complex. I’m not saying to be arrogant or conceited or anything like that, but I think it is important to love yourself; all of you, especially the faults.
Also, a large part of confidence comes from self-realization. I never could truly synthesize all of the things I was doing—whether it was modeling, whether it was writing and editing for a newspaper, whether it was something else entirely—until I wrote it down, until I wrote it in. It is too easy to become disheartened over a job, social status, relationship, appearance … anything that contributes to a (mis)conception of self-worth. But I found what to other people might seem self-evident, or else hardly acknowledged: it is who you are, not what you do, that makes you fully-realized.
Watch Chris’ Academy of American Poets Prize acceptance speech, here.
With a fresh outlook on life at the age of (almost) 50, Ed found confidence in honesty and love.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m 49, from Ohio, partnered for 10 years, and a nurse by profession.
What can you tell us about confidence?
When I met my current partner and came out as a gay man to my friends and family, something seemed to have changed in me. I became liberated in ways I never even thought I could be liberated, and that included how I dressed myself, even down to my underwear.
What was it specifically that made you more aware of what you wore?
I would have to say it was finally noticing the same old, tired clothes in my closet. Looking and dressing like everyone else. Not really exploring and asserting who I really was on the inside, and that was a proud gay man who deserved the chance, like every other gay person, to not live in secrecy.
What prompted you to come out to family and friends?
It was encouragement from my partner. It was also the fact that I knew that my friends and other loved ones already were aware of the fact that I was gay, that I always had been, and not even being married for ten years to a woman would ever change that.
Why weren’t you able to come out before?
There wasn’t a good reason why I hadn’t come out long before I did. It was one thing and one thing only: my own fear of facing who I really was. I wasn’t afraid of losing the love of my friends and family by coming out as a gay man. It was admitting to myself that I needed to live in MY truth, not the truth of others. It was the fear of learning how to live my life as a proud gay man. It was the fear of standing up and being counted as worthy.
Assuming coming out offered you a new-found confidence, where did you find confidence before?
I didn’t find it before coming out. I didn’t know I had confidence inside of me until I came out. At least, I never believed I had any confidence to begin with.
Ten years later, what gives you confidence now?
Several things. Turning 50 this year and knowing I have lived half a century and experienced so much of this life that hasn’t always been easy or fun, but somehow I have managed to stay alive. My wonderful and amazing partner Richard who has kept me grounded. Going back to college after twenty years to finally finish my RN degree. THAT takes a huge amount of confidence, believing that no matter how old you are, education is something everyone can and should pursue. You are never too old to learn!
Anything else you would like to share?
Yes. A favorite quote of mine: “We do not live in this world alone, but in a thousand other worlds”. This has always resounded with me. It says so much to me as a human being, and particularly as a gay man.
NYC, New York
From lost identity to embracing his own unique personality, Jason hopes to inspire others through his newfound confidence
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in NYC and am originally from Topeka, Kansas. I’m an actor by trade doing a great deal of off off Broadway theatre and working retail, bartending, and DJ gigs to pay the rent. My favorite color is white and I drink too much soda pop.
About how much underwear do you own?
I own upward of 700 different pairs of underwear from jocks, bikinis, thongs, briefs, speedos, spandex gear, singlets, and body suits.
Why such a huge collection?
It’s kind of like this: You know how people from LA have cars as an extension of their personality, or how distinguished women of NYC have handbags that extend their awesome presence on 5th Ave…well, my briefs are that same extension of who I am on a daily basis.
What initiated your love of underwear?
I think a public declaration of being gay outed my under fetish. I spent a long time hiding from the world around me in regards to who I am and what I am about. I thought for many years that disguising what is questionable about me that society might object to how one got ahead in life. And then one day I woke up, looked in the mirror, and found I didn’t like myself very much. Worse, I didn’t know anymore who I was.
In your story, you explain that a jock (John) stood up for you against a bully in your high school locker room and that it was a defining moment.
On that day my idea of what a hero was changed. I immediately attached sexy underwear to power and compassion and sex and virility and heroism and being a man.
How did that move you to start collecting?
I think at the center of my underwear fascination and collecting is a hope that I’ll recreate that moment of discovering what the difference is between being a bully, being a boy, and being a man. That if I find the right Gregg Homme square cut, Joe Snyder bulge thong, or Cocksox push up speedo that the memory of that moment in that high school locker room with John looking out for me will come back in some form and I’ll experience again what it means to develop a first crush and a young version of love.
How has your fetish influenced you?
There is something powerful about being in a pair of sexy briefs and nothing else. It’s a tease. A confidence builder. I have a special jock strap I wear to my visual job during overnight shifts when we are doing floor flips. It’s bright orange and puts a spring in my step when I am moving around. Even though no one can see it at work, I know it’s there and that is fun for me.
What has your journey from those teen years to now revealed?
I am not unique in that feeling of lost identity. I don’t think mainstream society in general really encourages us as humans to embrace who and what we are as people. I do think I am special in my decision to stop hiding and, to not only show more of who I am actively discovering myself to be, but to let others know that what sets them apart from the masses is what makes them attractive.
Why did you choose to share your story?
The sharing of a history can heal a person. It can create a sense of community and home. It teaches others that they are not alone and can inspire people to do great things. It is the medicine to human confusion and the magic elixir to make anything possible. So not only stories about underwear are important to me but stories about life.
"It’s alternative in that men aren’t supposed to wear women’s underwear. … As far as I’m concerned, it’s just different, that’s all."
Kansas City, Missouri
You started wearing women’s underwear when you were about 10. Did you feel like you didn’t have options? Was it all tightey whities?
That’s all they had back then. I found more variety in women’s stuff. It was a lot nicer, a lot prettier.
Was it more about fabric or the cut or the color?
I guess back then it was about the colors and the idea that it was different and nicer. The waistbands are a lot more comfortable. They’re a lot more lightweight. Men’s underwear now is a lot more diverse.
What is it about pantie’s that you prefer?
I’ve been doing it for so long, I like knowing that it’s womens. It’s the excitement of it number one, there’s always a little bit of a sexual thrill with it. That is part of it. But it’s also the comfort. They’re still more comfortable and lighter than most men’s underwear.
Do you have a personal preference?
I prefer silk but the cost and the fact that it’s not as breathable—I wear cotton most of the time when I’m working. But for evening and in bed I usually wear the silk.
You grew up in the sixties, correct?
Do you find the world today more accepting of individuality and self expression?
I think it’s much more open minded now than it used to be. Obviously if someone found out when I was kid or even as a young adult it would be…now, though, people are more accepting of it. Doesn’t mean everyone is, but people think “If it’s not bothering me, it doesn’t matter to me.”
You’re married, you have children, grandchildren, you’re a government employee. Some people would consider your underwear preference an alternative lifestyle. What would you say to that?
I guess it’s their point of view whether it is or not. It’s alternative in that men aren’t supposed to wear women’s underwear. If you do, then you shouldn’t get any feeling from it and if you get a feeling then it is alternative. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just different, that’s all.
Would you say your profession influenced your choice as well?
I came from a very masculine profession. It’s what I did my whole career. When I put on women’s things, it’s was a complete contrast and I enjoyed that feeling.
Was this difficult in your work environment?
When I was younger I didn’t wear panties under my uniform because I was always afraid something would happen. When I got further up, I started wearing them to work. That constant macho field you’re in and the machismo of every minute of every day from every guy you’re working with…I started to find that sometimes it was nice to wear something of women’s and feel something different. It would relax me. I didn’t have to be Mr. Macho.
Can you recall what it was like when you first started trying them and what it’s like today?
Yeah, you’re scared and excited. You’re scared because you know you’re not supposed to do this but the exciting part is, well, these feel nice, this is different, I like this. So I enjoyed it. It’s like two different feelings at once and they might have been the same. It’s hard to tell that long ago. Today it makes me confident, relaxed. I feel good when I wear them.
How does it give you confidence?
Well to me the biggest thing with confidence is, if you know in the back of your mind that you can do something or you can succeed at something but you’re nervous and worried about it, usually it’s not because of your ability. There’s something else bothering you. And I just found that this is one of those things that, by wearing panties, it gives me confidence. What if they don’t like me? Well that’s not your ability. What if they’re looking for somebody younger. That’s not your ability. And a lot of times that’s what you worry about, the wrong things. I don’t care. I’m comfortable, man. I’m wearing what I like to wear. And if they don’t want me, they don’t want me.
Owner of Jockstrap Central
When big business didn’t hit the spot, John followed his dream and started his own underwear company.
You cover a broad spectrum.
You’ve got guys into the tighty whiteys or into the skimpy stuff. I love it all. Different underwear has different purposes. I was into good fitting boxer briefs for day to day but I was also into the sexy, erotic stuff. My underwear fetish wasn’t a secret fetish. My family knew about it, everybody knew about it. I was buying the crazy, erotic thongs and g-strings. Again, I was always into a good fitting boxer brief or brief, but the kinky side of me was always looking for something crazy.
Has discovering underwear made you more confident?
In a very abstract way. It allowed me to make a website and people respected me…and it’s always been free. It’s built me up to feel confident. I’m confident in my underwear fetish. I guess it makes me feel sexier. Definitely sexy. Especially when I was working in an office and I’d be wearing something skimpy underneath. It made me feel a little more sexual…almost naughty (laughs). I’m not sure about confident but naughty. It was my little secret that nobody else knew.
Now I’m able to do exactly what I love. Whether it’s underwear, the design aspect, programming, or marketing. I love all aspects of it.
Do you think there’s a common thread among the forum members?
Definitely. The whole site has been geared towards showing off in underwear. It’s all about self pics. I try to stop people from just posting pictures from around the Internet. It’s really about finding the underwear, then showing it. When I first started it was all about the forums, and then I launched galleries and the forums were all of a sudden being neglected. Guys just love to show off their purchases. I think it’s even more popular than talking about the underwear.
Retail manager, go-go dancer, and underwear aficionado, Jay transitioned from a shy boy into an outgoing performer.
And by night?
I do go-go dancing and stripping on the side. I perform under the name of Dakota Brennen.
So you’re not just the 9-5 kinda guy. What’s stripping like?
I love it—being in my underwear, having fun, socializing. Plus it makes a nice fit for some extra money.
Do you obsess about body image at all or are you pretty confident?
I’ve always been your average guy, fairly skinny, short, no muscle tone…often times with a little extra flab or weight in the midsection. Even as a performer in an industry where body image is super relevant, I still struggle with my body. I want to get better, I want to look hotter, have a better body. Who doesn’t?
True, except you’re on stage. Is that a difficult balance—wanting a perfect body and stripping?
People actually like me a lot as a performer and person because of that. I’m not perfectly chiseled, right out of a magazine or movie. I hope that I can translate to others that confident and sexy does not have to be a certain type. You find that from within and turn it outward.
Have you always been the outgoing type?
Not at all. I grew up a very shy boy who went to Catholic school and was always a little different. I did not fit in with the mainstream crowd.
High school isn’t exactly the kindest time. How did you leave the “shy boy”?
I discovered music and theater early on and found comfort in singing and performing on stage. It was an escape that helped me gain confidence and become someone else.
You seem pretty comfortable in your own skin now.
Over the years, as I got older and started discovering myself and who I really was, I finally started meeting others like me who had the same underwear fetishes, turn ons, and likes. I realized that not only was I normal, but it was a pretty common thing for men, gay and straight alike.
To have an underwear fetish you mean?
It’s no strange occurrence to have a gay man with an underwear fetish, but honestly it took me years to finally be at a place where I felt comfortable expressing myself with it.
Can you tell us more about your love for underwear?
I’ve had a huge underwear fetish since I was a young boy discovering colored briefs, low rise bikinis, and thongs in local discount department stores and eventually catalogs. I have always been obsessed with the hot styles, the way they look and feel and make me feel. Seeing other hot guys in them in catalogs, online…almost drives me more wild than seeing them naked.
What kind of effect has your fetish had on relationships?
It’s a little bit of a challenge when your partner isn’t necessarily into underwear as much as you are or could care less. They don’t understand why you spend so much on a pair, or why you are wearing something so fancy for no reason, or that it turns you on sexually. So for years, it was literally a hidden secret fantasy of mine and something I was almost embarrassed of.
You’re very open about it now, though. What changed?
Well it turns out that my current partner has the same underwear fetish. We met almost 3 years ago. Through him, I’ve been able to set fears aside, give in to all of my likes and desires and just be me. I am proud of who I am and underwear is a huge part of how I express myself.
I imagine working in retail keeps you up to speed on the latest styles.
I care more about what underwear I am wearing than anything else.
NYC, New York
The single, sane, New York blogger who’s out to prove that anyone can be sexy, regardless of body type.
What initiated it?
I was in an abusive relationship at one point in my mid 20’s, and when I got out I took some time off to rediscover me. That’s when I started collecting underwear. It made me happy, and then I wanted to share it and find others who loved underwear as much as I did.
You’ve devoted a blog to it since then.
It was really a way to share my love of underwear with others that also enjoyed it. I would post pictures and little blurbs daily. It’s introduced me to other guys that also enjoy underwear. We’ve become a family of sorts. We are all shapes and sizes, all orientations and all have different sized equipment. I was not then, nor am I now, a model you’d see on the underwear boxes.
You emphasize that there’s something for everyone, regardless of body type. That it’s more about attitude.
We embrace what we have and move forward with the philosophy that you have to feel good in your underwear to look good in them. It’s not a line. It’s true. I know that there are styles that don’t work well on me—despite me wanting them to. I have found the styles that work for my body and package. I have found the ones that make me feel sexy, and when I feel sexy I know I look it and act it.
Would you consider it transformative?
Underwear helped to bring me back out of my shell when I could have retreated there. It let me make connections with people all over the world, that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
What would you say to other people who might be timid about exploring underwear?
There is a style of underwear for every body type and shape - and you can find something that you look and feel amazing and hot and sexy in. Find it! Embrace it! Flaunt it!
DAVID MRAMOR / ENID ELLEN
NYC, New York
Yoga instructor and artist, David Mramor channels Mother Nature to become the commanding performer, Enid Ellen.
Have you always written poetry?
Yes always. As a young child I kept journals and journals. I was really in to Anne Frank and I had visions of being stuck like her and I wanted people to see that realness. The words as poetry aren’t that great to me. They seemed a bit dead without the piano. It depends what energy I can bring to it. The words are coming and I just got to get them out of here. Clear these spaces in my brain.
How did Enid Ellen transpire?
I was writing these poems about my ex lovers and how I wanted to punish them. I was channeling me some Lizzie Borden and Greg “double C” Potter helped me put the words to music. I created a myspace page, gave her the name Enid Ellen and created a whole look for the project. And that was about it but one day this bar downtown contacted me and asked us to play live! I was like “What!” but I knew I had to do it. Give this powerful female a voice.
How do you channel Mother Nature?
For me the biggest part of getting into character is my outfit, wig, and makeup. The foundation of all that is my underwear. I love slipping on a pair of lady panties cut for a man. As Enid Ellen continues to develop from a boy to a woman one thing is always certain I must feel sexy. Channeling Mother Nature is no easy task!
What is it about the foundation that gets you ready for performing?
It’s the fabrics and fit. I like when the cut flatters my curves or lack there of. And the fabric, the touch on my skin. It makes me feel sexual and sensual.
Do you have a performance wardrobe and day-to-day wardrobe?
Yes I do. They overlap on some aspects but Enid is another being. She has her own style which draws from so many influential people. From Boy George to Nico, she takes from all. As a regular day boy I go for comfort but I still need to show my body. I don’t want to be afraid of this body. Tight when I feel skinny and loose when I’m feeling a bit bloated!
How has your personal life influenced Enid Ellen (or vice versa)?
Well I am an artist first so anything that allows that creative flow to run through me takes first step. But I am also a yoga teacher and my yoga practice is very important to me. It gives me the energy to sustain my art making. It allows me to not get stuck on things, such as my emotions. Enid lets things go and I attribute this to my yoga practice. I have also been in a serious relationship for the past three years and that steps into the work. It lets me see things from another angle.
What would you consider your best show/performance?
I have to say my favorite show was when Greg and I took to the subway platform. It was amazing. The audience came and went and so many new faces were exposed. It was great to interact with that environment. I loved it. The roots of NYC!
Has anyone ever said something that made you self-conscious when performing?
Girl, I’m a sensitive being so I take everything to heart especially critiques of my body, but as I start to feel more comfy in my own skin I don’t really care. As RuPaul says, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?" Amen.
Las Vegas, Nevada
From 210 lbs to BeachBody coach, Casey overcame an unhealthy lifestyle for the sake of his family.
How did you get into fitness?
Well, 6 years ago I was about 210 pounds and eating whatever I wanted. I kept seeing infomercials for the P90X and things like that. So I called my wife one day from work and I go, “Honey, I’m looking at this and I think I’m gonna do it.”
What’d she say?
"That program is gonna kill you. You don’t work out now as it is." So she said, "Here, look at this one." It was Slim in 6. It kinda looked like a girly program (I know now that it’s not). So I thought, well, six weeks is an easier commitment than 90 days. I started it, followed the meal plan—I was eating a lot more veggies and working out six days a week.
And it worked?
By the end of the six weeks I was down 25 pounds. It was at that point that I moved onto Power 90, P90X, quite a few different ones. After that I realized, this stuff works.
How did you become a coach?
One of the guys in my church choir was a coach. I had no idea what that was. You’re able to make money but you’re helping people reach their health and fitness goals. I love helping people, and I’m pretty good with the public—I worked with Wells Fargo bank for about five years, so I thought I could give this a try.
How do you push yourself?
Most of it is for my daughter, because I want her to grow up knowing that exercise isn’t a chore, it can be fun. Eating healthy is not as bad as a lot of us growing up tend to think it is. I keep her picture on a box where I keep my medicine balls, so when I’m working out it keeps me motivated. My family is my first and foremost. The healthier I am, the longer I’ll be around. The more active I’ll be able to be with my daughter, because kids do not stop. Not until they’re sleeping.
Were you overweight as a child?
I was very active when I was younger, and then my family picked up and decided to move to Utah. For whatever reason, I don’t know, I just became completely inactive and I think it was because I’d just left all my friends and other family and I just didn’t know what to do. And so, I just became a lazy slob.
Where are you now?
I dropped to about 185 and I haven’t been that thin since probably high school, which was a while ago. I was just tired of being fat. Tired of being tired and winded. And I just honestly did not like the way I looked whatsoever.
How did your wardrobe change after you lost weight?
At first, I wore a lot of sweatshirts in the winter to cover up. Summer was a little harder. I’m kind of one of those people who’s in between sizes. You know, trying to find jeans in my waist size that are usually either too tight or too loose. Shirts too, especially now when everything is athletic fit and tighter, so even if you get a size more it’s still a little tight.
Did your style change?
I don’t think I changed my style. I don’t follow trends. I’ve never been one to jump on the bandwagon. I wear what I’m comfortable in and what looks good on me. Just losing the weight, it gave me more confidence and made me more sure of myself.
How about underwear? Did that change?
Yeah, that did change. My wife laughs at me because I’m an underwear freak. I don’t have a ton, but I like underwear. Maybe because there’s so many different styles. It’s not like jeans or shirts. I can wear a certain style and nobody knows but me, and I feel good in it.
Does your wife have an opinion?
“I said, Honey, you’re marrying someone, who, for whatever reason really likes underwear.” She said, “Okay, I like shoes.” So, we’re good. I’ve got my underwear and she’s got her shoes. And it’s cheaper than her shoes.
Any fitness goals you’re working on now?
I’d like to have a six pack. I wouldn’t mind looking like Michael Phelps or Brad Pitt. Anyone who has a six pack. It’s a lot of hard work and takes a lot of time and a lot of discipline. If you stick with it, follow the plan, you can’t fail. You always feel better after you do it. Pushing yourself to get through it—that’s the hard part.
What’s it like when you check yourself out now?
It’s kinda hard. I see that I’m smaller, but I still kind of see that bigger person that I was for so long. If that makes sense. Sometimes I just tell myself “I’m hot.” It’s not something you say to other people, but sometimes you have to say it. I still have my insecurities, but they aren’t as big as they were. I feel better. I feel healthier. I feel sexier. I’ll notice my arms are getting bigger in the mirror and do some poses in the mirror when no one’s looking.
"The whole reason I found the job was because I had an underwear obsession."
Brooklyn, New York
How long have you been at Freshpair?
Two years. I interned for two months and then they offered me a job.
What is it that you like about it here?
The whole reason I found the job was because I had an underwear obsession. The reason I stayed and the reason I continue to stay is that I like the mission. It’s about helping people feel better, not just selling underwear.
What’s it like working in social media at Freshpair?
It’s fun, but challenging. It doesn’t always earn revenue like other advertising channels, but in today’s culture it’s essential. So it’s a bit of a challenge trying to balance social and other projects. I really love social because it allows us to really interact with people in a casual setting. I love meeting customers, like Casey, who’s also participating in The Confidence Project. I really enjoy interacting with people, getting to know them, making them feel good, giving a voice through social that helps people feel comfortable speaking with us.
You’ve interviewed a number of participants. Have you discovered anything through this process?
That people do actually want to talk about it. Even though underwear is still somewhat taboo, I haven’t heard many no’s from people. I feel most people want to help each other, and you may take 30 minutes or an hour doing an interview but who knows how long it will live online and influence people.
What is it that you love about underwear?
Well, when I was “blossoming” I had a lot of mixed feelings. I thought that by looking at men in underwear, instead of naked, didn’t mean I was gay. It really started there. I love the way it looks and feels. The way each pair is different and can make you feel a different way.
So underwear was a window into your own sexuality?
It was. I was very conservative, very modest. Underwear made for a smoother transition into the sexy, confident man that I am today. But seriously, it allowed me extra time to come to terms with my sexuality. It felt less dirty and less adult. I was always a late bloomer.
When did you become comfortable with the fact?
It was gradual. There were no bells and whistles. I was 17 and I remember standing in front of the mirror and saying it to myself, feeling goofy. But I was more comfortable in college. I felt more free.
You mentioned you have an underwear obsession. Do you buy regularly?
Frequently. I think out of all the men’s brands that Freshpair carries, I’ve tried all but three. I don’t have any prejudices. I want to try all of them even if I end up hating them. I crave variety…it’s the spice of life, you know.
How does underwear affect your mood?
I spend a good minute or two at my underwear drawers (that’s plural), trying to figure out what’s going to work with me that day. It’s kind of like those sticks that help you find water.
Like the metal things on the beach?
It’s got branches on it. It must be an Oklahoma thing. Dowsing! I can’t plan it out. I have to look and feel fabrics, see what gives me a vibe. There are some days I just grab something…and it makes a difference.
What’s it like when you get it right?
Automatically it makes me feel sexy and more pulled together in general.
Do you consider sexy and confident related?
Absolutely. You can’t be sexy without being confident. At least in my world. There are a lot of ways to achieve it but I think confidence is motivation for some sort of success. When you feel really sexy and confident it gives you an edge. There’s an aggressiveness and strength that emerges.
Is there anything you do to motivate yourself when confidence is lacking?
There are two parts. There are the things that aren’t important but still make a difference in my day—a good haircut, a new shirt. Exercise and being healthy is ongoing and can sustain. I try to take a few minutes each morning to do some push-ups before I go to the mirror…even though I don’t want to do them.
And the second part?
Relationships that are healthy and supportive help push me and they’re really essential. I couldn’t do it alone. Plus, there’s also the drive that I want to look better in my underwear…and for the company picnic.