Underwear fetishism is a sexual fetishism relating to undergarments, and refers to preoccupation with the sexual excitement of certain types of underwear, including panties, stockings, pantyhose, bras, or other items. Some people can experience sexual excitement from wearing, while others get their excitement when observing, handling, or smelling the underwear worn by another, or watching somebody putting underwear on or taking it off. Some may steal used underwear to get satisfaction. Not only does this include physical contact with the garment(s), or their wearers, but also includes arousal by printed or electronic image with depictions of underwear.
Underwear fetishism is not considered as paraphilia unless it causes distress or serious problems for the person or those associated with them.
To determine relative prevalences of different fetishes, Italian researchers obtained an international sample of 5,000 individuals from 381 fetish-themed discussion groups. The relative prevalences were estimated based on (a) the number of groups devoted to a particular fetish, (b) the number of individuals participating in the groups and (c) the number of messages exchanged. Within the sample population (a population of adults online involved in sexual discussion), 12% indicated a sexual preference for underwear.
Panty fetishism is a fetish in which one eroticizes panties (or similar styles of underwear). Fetishistic behavior can involve sharing printed or electronic material depicting exposure of panties, usually of a softcore nature, or direct sight and physical contact with the panties.
Some individuals have a paraphilia for a specific type of panty. For example, a common subclass of panty fetishism are panties that show the exposed buttocks (i.e. thongs and g-strings). Further, some individuals have the opposite preference, and are attracted to panties that cover the buttocks.
One of the most common types of panty fetishes involves used panties. In this fetish, panties or other intimate clothing that have previously been worn are eroticized. With the advent of the Internet, a "used panty" industry has sprung up to cater to this fetish, consisting primarily of women or (on a much smaller scale) men selling their used undergarments through independent websites or panty seller groups. Sellers tend to charge for the number of days for which the panties or other garment are worn, and prices generally increase with time worn.
In Japan, this industry has a long-established brick-and-mortar presence, known as burusera shops. Outside Japan, such shops exist only on the internet and are generally run by individual women or men, as opposed to registered businesses.
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The sub-categories and degrees of pantyhose fetishism are too many to list and is in many cases combined with other fetishes or paraphilias of the fetishist (and often his partner too) so as to make an individual's preferences as with many other popular fetishes unique.
A few typical examples of subcategories perhaps would be:
- a focus on certain areas of the body while wearing pantyhose, e.g., feet, a variation of the very common foot fetishism,
- wearing pantyhose with other specific garments, e.g. shoes, boots, or skirts, uniforms that usually include pantyhose (girl at work, secretary, flight attendant, policewoman, Hooters Girl waitress, girl next door, dream girl, French house maid, model, pinup women etc.),
- certain styles e.g., sheer-to-waist, sandalfoot, reinforced toe, opaque, patterned or specific deniers; certain brands or shades,
- tightlaced pantyhose, which places more emphasis on size of thighs and lace to give the rest of her legs the opaque style,
- ripped pantyhose with a short skirt, this is to emphasize some roleplaying, the fashion or uniform roleplay may include (schoolgirl, emo, goth and alt),
- simply admiring women who wear pantyhose (a mild form of voyeurism),
- finding the wearing of them to be a primarily sensual comforting experience, rather than sexual.
Men wearing pantyhose
Some males with a pantyhose fetish may wear them for some of the reasons mentioned above. Men who are discovered wearing women's pantyhose for fetishistic purposes may be labeled as transvestites by their partners, families, workmates, and society.
A man who likes to wear pantyhose may be deeply anxious and worried about being associated with homosexuality or transvestism, and as such most will endeavour to keep the fetish private, commonly hiding it from their wives or partners (though some do have the ultimate trust and understanding of their partners) due to such enormous fears that are invariably completely out of context with such relatively mild desires.
There is a small number of women, perhaps due to the nature of the garment who will also find them stimulating.
Some people experience sexual excitement from the look or feel of women's stockings. The attraction may be to the look or feel of the material, such as sheer nylon or silk, to the use of a garter belt, or to the act of a person donning or removing stockings. The attraction of stockings may include the perception that stockings and the associated use of garters, lace, high fashion, appliqué and the exposure of the thigh, are aesthetically pleasing or erotic.
Stocking fetishism may include other feminine clothing which contributes to enhancing the fantasy. Some men find it arousing to collect and wear stockings, panties, and suspender belts. In some cases, this is done for the purpose of momentary sexual stimulation. Others wear such a complete combination under a pair of trousers or beneath a business suit on a regular daily basis.
The increasing acceptance with which modern societies have viewed this particular subject since the middle of the 1950s decade enabled many men to indulge in this practice to such an extent that it has been branded as a 20th-century social phenomenon.
In contrast to conventional face-to-face purchasing, the growth of internet purchasing has enabled men to browse through many different assorted underwear offerings anonymously. Presently, many manufacturers and retailers specializing in lingerie and associated women’s apparel throughout the world cater to the need of an ever-growing population of men who usually invest significant amounts of effort and expense in order to acquire whatever intimate garments may suit their particular needs.
Such fetishists may also be divided into many subcategories relative to their attraction to certain types of stockings. Some find fishnet stockings more arousing compared to other forms of stockings, for example. Other preferences include fully fashioned (seamed) stockings, seamless stockings, designer stockings, luxury stockings, reinforced heel and toe stockings (RHT), stay-ups, etc.
Garter belts can be very tricky to attach to a lace welt, therefore it is much easier to start wearing garter belts with old-fashioned regular stockings that have a plain welt without any lace, designs, or silicon lining. Usually, garter belt fits around the waist or just a little lower, but it is not a good idea to have a garter belt too low on the hips because it may begin to slide down when walking as stockings tug on the straps.
In the Anime and Manga subculture, zettai ryōiki (絶対領域) (lit. Absolute Area/Domain/Region/Territory) refers to the bare skin between thigh-high stockings or socks and the skirt (though in some cases shorts also).
Silk and satin
Some people experience sexual excitement from the look or feel of articles made of silk or satin fabric. Such interest is usually directed towards the person wearing silk or satin, but it can also be directed towards the garment itself, or to the feel of the garment when worn.
The principal materials which are considered erotic are charmeuse silk (silk woven so that it has a sheen) and satins (such as acetate satin and rayon satin), but other materials with similar properties, such as spandex and polyester are also admired.
Jockstrap fetishism is the term applied to the sexual arousal from handling, wearing a jockstrap, watching another put one on, or sniffing a jockstrap. To quote on jockstrap sniffing, "jock[strap] sniffing specifically refers to the practice of inhaling odors from unlaundered jockstraps for the purpose of sexual stimulation. Practitioners, (usually male) are known as 'jock sniffers' and acquire unlaundered jockstraps either by swapping such garments with like-minded individuals or by swiping them from locker rooms, lockers or unattended gym bags". Sexual arousal generally concerns the jockstrap itself and is why it is regarded as a paraphilia rather than a fetish. It is also regarded as a homosexual exclusive fetish even though straight males do often do this as well. Most jockstraps are made out of cotton and polyester though leather jocks are often used as well.
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