Writer and college student Mads Jensen explores the covert world of panty selling.
I don’t know how some students in the United States can magically attend college, have a job, not be nutritionally deficient, and simultaneously manage to not look like shit. (Trust fund kids, GIVE ME YOUR VOODOO!) A few weeks ago I found myself short on rent and trying to muster up enough funds to visit my boyfriend in Los Angeles. Pinching pennies and skipping meals wasn’t enough. Stressed out of my mind, I did what I normally do whenever I get anxious: eat multiple pints of Ben & Jerry’s, pretend that nothing is happening, and explore the Deep Web. Lucky for me, my terrible coping mechanism proved to be fruitful for once. In my aimless internet meanderings, I found what appeared to be the solution to my financial problems: panty selling.
First, you should know that merely considering selling my panties is a pretty strange for me. I was raised in a devout Mormon family, attending church for three hours each Sunday; I graduated Mormon seminary in high school; and now, at 19, I’m continuing my education at an extremely conservative (and sometimes downright sexist/transphobic/you name it) university that I’ll leave unnamed. At my university, students have to follow a strict dress code (clothing must cover knees and shoulders, no unnatural hair colors, etc) and we face potential expulsion if caught engaging in any sort of sexual activity aside from good ol’ fashioned kissing. On top of that, the university is located in a small town in Utah. To get an idea of what it’s like, imagine sprawling suburbs inhabited by midwestern Mormon families, college students, and rednecks. With Mormonism at the heart of the community, I doubted that I would find any success in panty selling, but after a few days of deliberation I decided to give it shot. I missed my boyfriend, needed to pay rent, and figured that if someone found out about it, I couldn’t get in trouble because I wasn’t an actual participant in anything against my school’s rules. And besides, how kick ass is the idea of turning feminine excretions into rent-paying, travel-enabling cash money?!
I found out that panty selling is pretty public in Japan, where there are vending machines filled with panties manufactured to appear used. In the last decade, this concept became widespread as websites centered entirely on this exchange have popped up. (pantydeal.com, sellpantiesformoney.com, pantyzoo.com, to name a few) To prep myself, I looked through dozens of these sites and also browsed multiple online forums to sort out which platforms were safe, simple, discrete, and (equally important) ensured profit. Disillusioned with most panty-centered sites, I decided to give Reddit a try after reading this AMA.
I didn’t want to reveal my identity, so I made an account titled “thepantybabe.” (Super subtle, right?) Setting up the ad on this site was pretty frustrating because I was required to follow a specific format, including in my post a certain number of specific tags.
The setup also encouraged me to link to a photo of my panties on Imgur, which made the process of posting my ad even longer. Loads of women use photos of themselves wearing their panties in order to boost sales, but I opted out on this one, probably part of the reason my short-lived union with Reddit epically failed. After the tedious process of setting everything up, I only got one response from a man asking me if I could be his daughter. (???)
Deleting my account, I realized just how much time, wordplay, and marketing is required by the Reddit shenanigans. There are definitely ladies who find success selling their underwear on Reddit, but it requires a level of patience that I don’t have. Many of them have also already established a fan base from adult film. Reddit was just too much of a production for me, and I didn’t want to feel like panty selling was consuming too much of my time, requiring more effort than I was willing to spend.
Flustered and still very much short on cash, I took to my favorite website, Craigslist. I’ve probably spent more time browsing Craigslist than all social media combined, using it to find rooms to rent, a cheetah print fainting couch, and ride shares to Las Vegas. I really loved my experience using Craigslist for panty selling because setting up the ad was so damn simple compared to Reddit. I could also easily maintain anonymity and not have the ad traced back to me.
People of Craigslist, I’m selling panties that I’ve worn for a day. $30 flat fee, $10 more for each extra day worn. Feel free to message me if you’re interested in buying! xoxo
Within the first week of posting my ad, I got about seven responses. While the majority were men looking for free photos or dirty email exchanges, I quickly learned how to differentiate between those who were looking for cheap thrills and those who were serious about the exchange. Fending off the Bad Guys of Craigslist and bargaining with potential buyers was a delight, and humorously the first time my Intro to PR and Advertising classes ever paid off. (That’s what college does for you, kids!)
After about a week of filtering, I finally organized a meetup. I recorded a bit of the exchange as well, as the ridiculous process of sorting out what to wear. As you can see, the result was inspired by Grey Gardens.
So hooray, the exchange went well! I was surprised by how empowering it was to demand cash for something that basically required no effort at all.
However, the next day I did have a brief moment of regret, sobbing to my boyfriend over Facetime about how sleazy I felt. I couldn’t get the image of my grandmother’s disappointed face out of my head. “That does not make Heavenly Father very happy!” she would probably say. My boyfriend, bless him, calmed me down and I was able to shake off the needless guilt I felt. Disregarding strange religious notions, selling my panties made me feel like a badass, and while I’ll probably never sell them again, I’d certainly recommend giving it a try to people short on cash, looking for a good thrill, or for those who just want to boss someone around.
Mads Jensen is a 19-year-old writer and college student living in Utah. She also writes for Rookie mag. Main image by Ellen von Unwerth