Every morning before high school, in the 1950s and early 60s, a collective expletive could be heard in the air above my small town, as teenage girls curled up and screamed themselves into nylons.
Legs worn for shaving are worn for covering with nylon-coated netting that rests on the thighs. A thick, ugly band marks the end of that innocence. Here was where it got serious.
Nylons themselves do not stay there – they need a garter belt.
A garter belt is made for one purpose – to give the ends of your nylons something to connect. After leveling the toe line on your toes and making sure the nylon heel is back and not bagging your ankles, the pulling process begins.
We took a large object in both hands and lifted them up. We stopped when our calves started to hurt and our toes started to curl underneath. The floppy end of the tube (another word for them) hangs over our laps like a fiery boot on a charity van at every street corner. It was important to catch up on that, so we don’t have to start over.
We put our garter belts on our waists; It was time to connect our nylons.
A ribbed, elastic belt had metal hooks – two in front and two in back – like a small gun holster for juvenile delinquents. White, rubber buttons wander behind the hook like turkey wattles, waiting to catch the nylon between the halters.
There isn’t a woman over 60 who doesn’t remember the feel of nickel-sized buttons on her body. They tattooed both our legs with deep circles; His back was sore after sitting all day.
We endured only because our vanity was above the threshold of our suffering.
It was also important to tighten your nylons throughout the day. As the day wore on, you bagged and twisted your legs to look like grandma’s elbows. It’s off to the bathroom to rip, pull, and reattach your nylons to your garter belt.
By the time the final bell rings, the elastic hooks of your garter belt have been stretched and tightened to their fullest extent. You strut like Paul McCartney’s guitar, and David’s sling pales in comparison to the weaponry you have strapped to your waist.
If the speed and power of a loose garter hook is used for more harm than good, it can easily blind or incapacitate passers-by with one knee bend.
After sitting all day in sloppy wooden table/chair combos in every room – standing up to immobile cleaners – as the bus moved on its square wheels to our stops – our thighs were too sore to sort coins. Garter belt fasteners were carved into the holes.
We didn’t complain too much about the garter belts and nylon discomfort. We consider our sexuality a part of our lives. If Jackie Kennedy and our favorite movie stars can handle it, so can we.
Pantyhose finally became a fashion norm in the mid/late 60s. We slipped into miniskirts with confidence, knowing that no straps or bare thighs would be visible beneath our tiny tops.
Good days. Boy, am I glad they’re gone.