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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Battle of the Bulge

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Is showing a very large bulge considered offensive? I can't pack it down much, and jeans always fade around that area, highlighting it.

Our culture tends to idealize large penises and breasts as attractive sexual attributes, and most of the email spam we get is focused on making these body parts bigger. However, for those of us who are naturally well endowed in these areas, life is not a bed of roses. In nonsexual contexts (such as our jobs), a large crotch bulge or bust line can feel borderline obscene even if someone is trying to dress conservatively, and in social settings such as bars, other people might interpret these lovely lady or man lumps as trying too hard or even faking it. For thoughts about this issue and advice on what to do, I polled SEXpress readers for their opinions.

Most folks who responded to this question said that they personally weren't offended by the sight of a large package, but they could see how others might be. "It's kind of like camel-toe. It's unfortunate, but it happens," said one. Another opined, "I don't see how it could be offensive unless your package is conspicuous enough to make it look like you're sporting an erection. Otherwise, enjoy the double-takes." Several commented that they thought it depended on the situation: "I think, like cleavage, it depends on context. In church, I'd say showing a large bulge is going to offend. Going out at night, not so much. There's a lot of room in between."

Others believed that the behavior of bulge-havers influenced others' reactions: "I only consider a large bulge offensive if the person is also flirting with me in a very sexually suggestive way, after I've made it clear that I'm not interested and/or uncomfortable." Another stated, "I wouldn't say it is offensive, as long as this person isn't rubbing it up on people without their consent."

Readers shared several suggestions for making a bulge less conspicuous. This depends, in part, on whether you are a cissexual or transsexual man. Cissexual men (men who are born with a penis and have identified as male since birth) don't have much control over the size of their package. Transsexual men (men who are born without a penis and identified by others as female at birth) have a little more choice; they can purchase soft packers (flaccid penises) of different sizes or consistencies and switch them up depending on the occasion—more discreet for church or work, a little larger for going out on the town.

Other suggestions for minimizing a bulge include:

  • "Get some pants that give you a little more breathing room down there."
  • "Ride your bike more and get bigger thighs, which helps to "frame" things more nicely."
  • "I'd suggest darker jeans, or black pants, as darker colors tend to hide bulges better, or perhaps switching to briefs if they are a boxer wearer."
  • "Stay away from low-rise, skinny or classic fit jeans. Also, consider switching to athletic or active-style underwear. Brands like Under Armour make compression undies that are meant to provide support, but will help keep things pressed down. Stay away from the kind that feature a 'pouch' or 'ergonomic contours.' That will just highlight your problem."
  • "[Wear] a kilt. It hangs loosely, and you have a sporran hanging right in front of the crotch, so it will hide the bulge."

Thanks, super-helpful SEXpress readers!

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.

Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.