Lingerie? No Way!

by admin on April 26, 2010

I work with some wonderful people in a very straight-laced and Southern Baptist school, and my co-worker (let’s call her Tammy) asked to throw a work shower for my upcoming wedding at her house; all the principals, administrators and headmaster’s wife were invited. I felt so blessed that she offered, and I graciously accepted. My supervisor, we’ll call her Jill, and who is also an administrator, seems to feel that she always needs to be the center of attention. When she heard that Tammy would be throwing me a shower, she volunteered to help her, and my co-worker Tammy accepted.

Fast-forward to the shower, and Tammy has gone all out–it’s catered (albeit it is a dry shower, which I was fine with; I would prefer to be semi-professional at a work shower, anyway), and there are scrap-booking activities, and of course the typical shower games! As I was opening gifts, I get to Jill’s, which is a wrapped box inside a Victoria Secret’s bag. Yes, among the towels, sheets and kitchenware, MY SUPERVISOR is the only one who gave me lingerie, as I had told Tammy that I was not comfortable opening “personal” items in front of my co-workers, and she had passed this request on verbally if asked for gift ideas. Jill ignored this request, and apparently said that, “I would get over it. It’ll be the only thing she’ll love using anyway.” So, here I am pulling a thong and a pair of crotchless underwear out of this box. I smile and say, “Thank you so much!”, while shoving it back in the box, but Jill very cleverly says, “What is it? Show it around!” So, I hold it up for a couple of seconds. Jill tells me, “Oh, that’s not long enough; pass them around, so everyone can see!”

It gets worse; one of my co-workers (who was also a good friend) was writing down everything I said as I opened the gifts. I know that this is a fun shower game, but perhaps it is not the best choice at such an event, especially considering the audience. As this colleague/friend was about to start reading the list, Jill grabs it out of her hand, stands up and pretends to be me on my wedding night. She mimics my characteristic laugh, and reads (and ad-libs things I certainly didn’t say) in an extremely suggestive manner, with whoops, and some hip movements what I will supposedly say and do on my “first time.” The list of quotes goes on for four pages (I got a lot of very lovely gifts; all of the guests were so sweet and generous) and this scene lasts for seventeen excruciating minutes. I smile and chuckle as much as I can stomach; the guest who laugh the most is the colleague who wrote the list and Jill: they don’t seem to notice that most other people are extremely uncomfortable.

Finally, it’s over, and it was a minor, and crass, bump in an otherwise extremely elegant shower. The best thing I can say about it, is that my wedding is two months away, so hopefully the image of my SUPERVISOR’S hips thrusting and voice proclaiming “YES…YES…THANK YOU…THANK YOU…THANK YOU!!!!” will fade from my memory by my actual wedding night. Also, I have to say that the one who she truly embarrassed was herself, in front of those who were HER supervisors, too. Here’s to shooting yourself in the foot, Jill! Good luck!! 0424-10

Ugh!  Another of my pet peeves…women who give lingerie at showers in direct contravention of the bride’s wishes.  I attended a bridal shower a few weeks where the bride received a skanky set of underwear from another single woman.   Nearly all the guests at this shower were the bride’s fellow church members and there were several 6-9 year old girls there with their mothers who got an eyeful as the panties were held aloft.  God bless, one of the little girls thought it was a shower cap.  I was sitting next to a bride whose shower I would be hosting 2 months later and she leaned over to me and said, “Over my dead body do I want anyone giving me lingerie at my shower.”   “There are several steps we can take to avoid this situation”, said I.

First, we pass the word among the guests that gifts of lingerie are not appreciated.  In my opinion, I believe it is pathetic that we have to be that specific but there are some obtuse, clueless people.

Second, while she is opening gifts, if she suspects a gift is lingerie or opens it to discover lingerie, she is to thank the giver looking her in the face and then discretely hand the gift to a bridesmaid who will sort of “hide” it among the previously open gifts while cleverly “bean dipping” the conversation by distracting guests to a new gift or topic.

Third, if the giver, or others, insist that she display the lingerie for all to see, the bride can rest assured in the knowledge that etiquette does not compel her to display her gifts like a trophy over the head.   “No, thank you, I prefer to only let my future husband see this gift.”   A bridesmaid will continue to distract the guests by making a large hoopla about the newest gift bride is to open…”Oh, look!  This is from Sherry!   The wrapping is so pretty!”

Fourth, if necessary, the hostess, namely me, will step in to stop unseemly shenanigans and antics by out of control guests.   That can be done by the bride ignoring the repeated request entirely while the hostess takes control of moving the gift opening along.  If necessary, a quiet but firm, “That is not possible at this time.”

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

auntmeegs April 26, 2010 at 9:55 am

No doubt that mking a big production of the lingerie was tacky, but since when is giving a gift of tasteful lingerie at a bridal shower an etiquetteh faux paus?

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admin April 26, 2010 at 10:43 am

When the bride has specifically requested that lingerie not being given at the shower yet someone disregards her preferences, that is when it becomes a faux pas. The question on Ehell that we should always ask ourselves is, “Who is being served here?” If the gift giver knows the bride has a preference to not publicly open a gift of lingerie, then gving it to her anyway is not serving her but the giver’s own preference to generate drama.

I’m of the personal belief that lingerie is a very personal piece of apparel and what kind you own is no one else’s business. What I don to get intimate with my husband is private information, imo, to be shared only with my husband. And when my daughters marry, there won’t be any lingerie at their showers either because I am fortunate to have friends who respect our beliefs.

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Mom April 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

There is lingerie, and there is lingerie. My grandmother, a very traditional woman, gave me a lovely silk nightgown – no peekaboo cutouts, no see through lace – at my shower. Just an elegant, floor length nightgown. The sort of thing I would never buy myself, but is truly lovely and classic. It was not at all something I’d be embarrassed to open in front of others.
However, the crotchless stuff (along with all the suggestive comments) is best avoided. EVEN if the the bride has requested it, it is possible that there will be guests that will be offended (great aunt Sally, or the bride’s eleven year-old flower girl). My dear sister opted to give me, on the occasion of my 48th birthday, a neon pink and green sheer baby doll with matching thong. Eeeeeww. At a family party. With my sons, brothers-in-law, parents, nieces and nephews in attendance. After I’d asked her not to. She found it absolutely hysterical. Me, not so much.

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Xtina April 26, 2010 at 10:44 am

Here’s a humorous way to handle receiving inappropriate lingerie at such an event: the bride-t0-be opens it, smiles, and announces to the group in her best “ooh-la-la” voice, “ooooooh–unmentionables!” Then thank the giver profusely and say something like, “ooh, for my hubby’s eyes only, he’ll loves black lacy things (or whatever it is)!” while laughing and playing coy. Then discreetly hand the box off to someone and move on to the next gift.

I think it is probably prudent to have one of your attendants be on point to diffuse this kind of situation in the event that the giver gets a little tawdry like “Jill” above, calling attention to it and demanding that it be passed around. If simply putting the gift away doesn’t strike the giver as a sign that this is as far as you want it to be seen, then your attendant can pull the giver aside and say that you aren’t comfortable passing around personal items like that even though it’s greatly appreciated that the giver gave them, and hope that they understand.

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Mrs. Pilgrim April 26, 2010 at 11:23 am

What I personally find horrifying is that the LW’s supervisor publicly mocked her and put on a performance that, in the office, would quickly lead to a lawsuit. And as the LW points out, “Jill” has basically ensured that she will be thought of on LW’s honeymoon! “Center of attention” indeed!

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PrincessSimmi April 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I think the recipient of a dud gift such as this should have the opportunity to return it to the giver (quietly though, obviously without making a scene) with a polite “While I appreciate the gift, I believe this may be something you’ll enjoy. I appreciate the thought and the effort you’ve gone to and I would like to see your gift utilised.” or something along those lines. Could you say “I’m not sure this will fit me, I really like it, do you happen to have the receipt available so I can exchange it for my size?”

When giving gifts, I prefer to err on the side of caution and give gifts that are practical, reusable and/or recyclable. I also don’t see any problem with regifting an item providing it is still in the original packaging and in good condition, and the recipient may be able to use it, in the case where I have received two identical items or it is an item I will never use. Oh, and never let the original gifter find out you have regifted, and never let the new recipient know it is a regifted item.

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Elizabeth April 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I grew up with separate showers for more personal items. A bridal shower is for household items from the registry. Naughty items were given at the Lingerie Shower. You would know going in what kind of event you were attending.

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Enna April 26, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I’m very liberal but I would NEVER buy something like that nor would I want to receive something tacky either – I think it’s obscene. I always respect other people’s wishes or needs. How rude. Especially around work colleagues too – even if they weren’t religious it wouldn’t do Jill any favors!

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phoenix April 26, 2010 at 1:02 pm

It’s too bad the OP didn’t feel comfortable with a simple “No” when the Supervisor insisted she show off the gift more. Also too bad that no coworker there had the gumption to tell the supervisor to knock it off. That went beyond bad taste to borderline harassment, especially since the OP probably was putting up with it because of the supervisor’s position.

None of the guests will hold this against the bride though, as she pointed out- it was the Supervisor who made a fool of themselves. Hope the OP has long, long forgotten about this and had a beautiful marriage and honeymoon!

Myself, nobody threw me a shower, but if they had I would have loved to receive lingerie. But if someone had started doing an impression of me using it…harsh words would be exchanged. I can’t imagine how it would feel if the lingerie itself was already a point of embarrassment.

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AS April 26, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Eww… embarrassing! I don’t know what was going on in OP’s mind when she saw her supervisor the next day at work.

I like the advice on how to tackle these situations, especially Xtina’s suggestion of saying jokingly. But this woman seems to have been insistent on embarrassing the bride – getting friends / bridesmaids to help sounds like a great idea.

Like others, I too hope that for her own sake, the poster forgot the incident before her wedding.

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geekgirl April 26, 2010 at 4:38 pm

I would never, ever dream of buying lingerie for another woman, no matter what the occasion. It just seems oddly prurient. I once had a boyfriend’s mother buy me lingerie, which was deeply embarressing, as everytime I put it on, I thought of her – not my boyfriend.

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Cheri April 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm

I agree that “Jill” was the truly embarrassed party in this situation. Lingerie is very personal and while the bride-to-be may enjoy receiving lingerie as a gift it’s better appreciated if she gets exactly what she wants. A wishlist is a perfect idea in this situation and can be emailed discretely to all the invitees. The recipient gets the size/color/style she really wants with no awkwardness and no need for returns.

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Asharah April 26, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Since OP said Jill’s superiors were at the shower, I hope one of them called her on the carpet and gave her a serious talking to about her behavior.

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Josie James April 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I have only been to one shower where someone wrote down what the bride says about her gifts and then read it as her on her wedding night and it was so stupid – it’s just not funny at all. It’s like a bad joke. I think this is what people do when they run out of ideas for good entertainment.

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Casey April 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

There are showers and then there are showers. My older sister had two. A more traditional shower with coworkers, family, etc. and then a lighter “girl’s night in” with her good friends where naughty gifts were accepted. I’m all for making a bride blush but on her terms. Making Great Aunt Sally faint isn’t funny.

Not to mention the awkwardness caused by blurring the line between professional and personal relationships.

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Chilly April 27, 2010 at 3:15 am

Yikes. A cringeworthy situation. I have nothing against pretty lingerie: I have given girl friends lingerie gifts at their showers and they gave me lovely “undies” for mine. The issue here is the mocking of the bride and making other people feel uncomfortable which is totally out of order. Boo to “jill”.

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Amava April 27, 2010 at 4:59 am

Firstly, I would have told her a firm “no” if she had insisted on the gift being shown around. Into the box it would have gone, and it would not have come out again (ever, I think).
Even if it was clothing I did like, I would not be able to wear it if it was given to me in disrespect or by someone I didn’t like.

Secondly, was any of the people involved ever able to look at the supervisor with respect again?

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E.D. April 27, 2010 at 6:23 am

Mrs. Pilgrim, the harassment policy where I work covers social events away from work. Since this was the “work” shower, Jill would have been severely reprimanded.

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DGS April 27, 2010 at 9:36 am

That is truly awful and inappropriate, and could have led to a lawsuit! In my experience, showers tend to focus on household items (dishes, linens, decorative items, etc.) What I might wear for my husband in the privacy of our bedroom is our business and our business only, and I know that when I was a bride, I would not have appreciated that personal of a gift (and I’m not the least bit conservative; simply, someone who has boundaries about what is appropriate to be shared with the world at large, and what is not). It sounds like the poster was able to salvage both her dignity and her shower, and only “Jill” looked foolish and tacky.

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franku April 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I’m all for lingerie, trust me; but there’s a time and a place for everything. This could have been avoided if Jill’s help had been politely but firmly refused, but it was probably as case of hindsight being 20/20 – who knew she’d be *that* self-centered? At least anyone who was present (or heard about it – more than a few, I’d guess) will have a heads-up about her for future reference.
It’s the perils of socializing with coworkers-as-friends, rather than friends who happen to be coworkers. Every office seems to have one or more person like her. Mine does.
By the way, this woman is a supervisor at a ‘very straight-laced and Southern Baptist school’? Not as straight-laced as a few SBs I’ve met.
I’m sure Jill did want everyone to remember her as the center of attention. Be careful what you wish for..

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hilde April 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Holy sexual harassment, Batman!

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Dixie April 27, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I’m young (early 20s) and while we have had several fun “girl’s night in” events for brides, I have never seen someone give someone else that sort of lingerie. When I was in my first year of college a friend got married and expressed her desire for lingerie. Since I was on a limited budget, I bought a lovely card for her and her hubby to be and placed a check in there–with a note that it was for Ramen Noodles and rent. For her “hen night” I bought her a racier card and a gift card to Victoria’s Secret, so that she could pick out her own unmentionables.

What this woman did is harassing and inappropriate; especially for someone at a work event with supervisors. And to think she is in a school! (Before you slam me, I know how schools and teachers work. I’m an educator myself. And I have two fellow teachers who are close friends at the same school, one whom I knew long before we got our doors.)

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SJ August 31, 2010 at 3:25 am

Also, maybe I overthink it, but I can’t see wearing lingerie from my obnoxious supervisor with my husband. “Do you like this, babe? Jill gave it to me.”
Talk about a mood-killer.
I’ll pick out my own lingerie, thanks.

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Ginger September 3, 2010 at 10:37 am

I guess my friends,family and I are a little racier…if I had a bridal shower and opened lingerie, I would hold it up for all to see! I guess that’s just me! And knowing my family and friends, they would laugh and whoop and holler and enjoy themselves.

In fact, I know someone whose MOTHER and SISTER bought her very sexual things for her bridal shower (certain shaped pasta & gummies, lotions, toys). The bride and everyone at the bridal shower laughed and altough the bride blushed, she thought it was very funny. She knew her mom and sister were very racy, so she was expecting it.

Yet if I knew that someone wasn’t comfortable receiving lingerie at her bridal shower, then I wouldn’t buy it for her. If the friend was a racy person and enjoyed lingerie, yet had old or conservative guests at her shower, then I would give her the lingerie at the bachelorette party, where racy gifts are acceptable.

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Tori December 17, 2010 at 11:59 am

OK. I am kinda mature for my age so some of my friends are quite a bit older than me. This story is about my friend Katherine. When she was about 17 her parents split. her dad never married again but her mom did. Her moms new husband was not the problem…his son’s wife Hilary was. So about 2 years ago Katherine got married. She and her friends met up at her mothers house,for the bathlorette party, because it was a mid-point of where they lived. Well Hilary is there and she is going on and on about this great bar she knows that they should all go to together. So Katherine invites her along.(She is a saint.) Also there are the MOH(my and brides bff Ashley) and BM(Katherines cousin). I and the flower girl couldnt go as we were underage. I was 13 and the flower girl was 10. Katherine threw a little party to appreciate her BMs and MOH to make up that we could go to the other party. I thought that was really sweet. Anyways Hilary goes along with them. Things are okay aside from some innaprpriate comments from Hilary. Anyways they had taken Ashleys car so while dropping them off at the house Ashley secretly slips Katherine a gift. Some info about Katherine, she is firm in belief that sex before marriage is wrong. So she waited for her wedding night. However she also wanted lingerie but was too embarassed to get them herself.(Afraid the cashier would judge her.) Ashley went and got some for her. Now Hilary sees the gift exchange and says she should open it so all the BMs can see. When Katherine says no Hilary takes the package from her and opens it herself. Hilary proceeds to show them around. Now Katherine fully embarassed takes them back says good night and leaves sobbing. Now skip to the wedding its a smallish wedding and guess what Hilary decides that Katherine HAS to open all the presents there so she can thank them in person. She pitches a fit about this so Katherine complies. She gets to Hilarys gift. Inside is Hilary USED lingerie,half a bottle of burbon,and a half used box of condoms. Katherine was fed up so she proceeds to throw the ‘gift’ away right then and there. I am sad to say Hilary never got any better.

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