Who buys used panties and why?
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Who buys used panties and why?

Dirty underpants don’t always end up in laundry baskets. Some owners sell them on instead. Time to put this unique business model in the psychological spotlight.

It sounds almost too good to be true. No more washing your dirty knickers, but making money by selling them to anonymous online buyers. Isn’t that textbook win-win? If you’ve looked into the used underwear market, you’ll know that things aren’t as straightforward as they may seem. From prep work to packaging to shipment – a lot of work goes into the business model. Then there’s finding out which platforms are best to reach your customer base.

Not to mention the psychological aspect, which is what this article’s about. Who are the people peddling panties on the internet and who’s buying the garments? Sex therapist Dania Schiftan (page in German) has the answers to the most pressing questions and talks about the emotional challenges and dangers of a seemingly harmless trade.

Most people I know wouldn’t touch a stranger’s used underwear with a bargepole. So what motivates others to spend money on used knickers?
Dania Schiftan, sexologist and psychotherapist: It’s a kind of fetish mostly seen in men. To these individuals, the smell and taste of a woman in particular are arousing and exciting. One aspect that usually comes into play is fantasising about when, where and by whom the garment was worn. The men create entire stories, images and realities in their minds. This goes hand in hand with the feeling that they own a part of this woman and can do whatever they like it with it. In other words, power, dominance and pleasure play a significant role.

Wouldn’t a used T-shirt do the trick?
In our society, it’s completely acceptable to sell, swap or pass on worn T-shirts, trousers, tank tops, bras, etc. Used underpants, however, aren’t resold due to hygienic reasons. Symbolically, this makes them a very personal, intimate object.

How open are people about this fetish?
Keeping it a secret hugely contributes to arousal. As in: if only you knew. It’s a social taboo, something forbidden.

Let’s take a look at the other side. What makes women put their used panties up for sale?
Their reasons may also be of a sexual nature. However, that’s the exception. It’s usually about the financial aspect. It’s a topic that comes up both in my practice but also in mum groups on Facebook. It’s where women wanting to improve their financial situation exchange ideas and give each other tips. The threads in these groups always include comments that recommend selling your panties.

Does this actually work to make a quick buck?
The business model definitely works once you’ve figured out how it works and where to find your customers. But what sellers often underestimate is the emotional aspect. In other words, how it makes you feel when you start sending your underpants to strangers.

Exchanging used panties for money seems like a pretty simple deal at first. And for many sellers this works fine. But some women get lost in thoughts after shipping off their underwear. They spiral and start asking themselves where the underpants go, who bought them and what are they using them for.

I hadn’t considered that at all.
Depending on how your brain’s wired, these thoughts and images you’ve conjured up can quickly become threatening. The thought of a strange man owning part of you can trigger things.

I don’t think I could handle it ...
That’s understandable. Everyone has the need to set personal boundaries. This type of threatening fantasy can create a shift in your own perception towards the stranger. This can make the seller feel threatened after she’s sold her underwear. The same can happen if you’re putting photos of your feet on Onlyfans. At first, the creators are thinking, «no biggie, it’s just my feet after all.» However, after the images are online, many of them feel as if they’ve been assaulted in a way. So if you’re thinking of making a bit of extra money this way, you should think about it carefully beforehand.

Dania Schiftan works in her Zurich practice as a sexologist and psychotherapist. As an author, she’s written two books about sex and the female orgasm, including a Spiegel bestseller. Schiftan is a regular guest in Swiss daily newspapers and on radio stations. Her podcast Release reaches more than 50,000 listeners a month and repeatedly makes it into the podcast charts on iTunes and Spotify. She gives presentations, runs workshops and works as a psychologist at Parship. You can find out more about her and her job in our interview:
Sex therapist Dania Schiftan
Sex therapist Dania Schiftan
Source: Mirjam Kluka
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As a massive Disney fan, I see the world through rose-tinted glasses. I worship series from the 90s and consider mermaids a religion. When I’m not dancing in glitter rain, I’m either hanging out at pyjama parties or sitting at my make-up table. P.S. I love you, bacon, garlic and onions. 

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