Stretching the Birthday Suit Idea

I regularly follow social media with the hashtag #birthday. You can see what I find if you follow me @birthdaysarebest. In the meantime, I want to weigh in on a phenomenon I’ve noticed — women posting selfies of their birthday outfits.

To begin, let me clear, I do not want to body shame any one in this blog. I am thoroughly impressed with the confidence these women have in posting their barely clad bodies on twitter.

What shocks me is the lack of fabric in the outfits of choice. I didn’t realize I was such a prude until I started seeing these grinning young women in scanty clothes. I have done a mental cataloging of my own past birthday outfits — notice I don’t say birthday suit — and even when I was their age I don’t remember a day where I wore so little fabric!

Birthday Skin

Without naming any names (or twitter handles), I’ve seen an awful lot of birthday skin by virtue of following the #birthday tag.

Apparently birthday outfit means you have to:

  • Show your belly button
  • Barely cover your breasts
  • Keep skirt hemline thigh high at best
  • Wear shoes that are sure to kill you if you have any drinks and attempt to dance.

I may have done one of these at most in my younger days — Ok, maybe two in my wildest days — but all four at once? Man, clearly I am over the hill (and should probably start regretting my age at birthdays more).

I am certainly over the hill enough to regret the evening when I ended up viewing an unexpected eggplant shot. Some guy thought it was a great gift to a girl to share his engorged self on social media. For a hilarious take on this phenomenon check out Famous Authors Reply to Your Unsolicited Dick Pic on McSweeney’s.

Hey! hint…that is not really something that gets many girls going…dress sharp and take a photo. Tell her you dressed up for her because she’s so classy. See where that gets you instead. You can thank me later.

In the meantime, I have come across a song that probably inspires some of the birthday outfits I’ve seen. Thanks Rihanna:


Where did “birthday suit” come from?


The phrase “Birthday Suit” today tends to see us heading into X-rated thinking. Try “birthday suit song” on Google and the responses are marked “explicit.” E.g. the Canadian singer The Weeknd wanting to see “his baby” in her “birthday suit” on her “special day.”

But did you know that the phrase actually dates back to the days when a monarch would throw a lavish celebration of a birthday? The birthday suit was the livery (uniform) that the castle servants were given to wear at the big event.

There’s some disagreement about how we got from elaborately clothed valets or scullery maids (actually they probably didn’t get one since they were in the scullery) to nakedness today. One suggestion I read said it was related to the servant’s state of undress if the uniform did not arrive. This explanation didn’t resonate as much, though, as the proposal that the contemporary meaning can be traced to the gradual disarray the servants’ suit would be in after repeated wearing. After all, the suit was often their only wage.

This word origin insight got me thinking also about the many ways we today get spiffed up for our own special days. Searching “birthday” on Twitter returns many people posing in front of mirrors in their planned outfits. What I have yet to figure out is why the people who publicly share their proposed dresses are often wearing so little fabric! I like to think it’s because on their birthdays all body consciousness is forgotten; they are ready to be bold and say, “look, look at me. I am the birthday Queen.”

I have worn a tiara on a birthday as an adult, but it’s a little sad we don’t get to wear “It’s My Birthday Biatch” T-shirts now that we’re all grown up. OMG, I so love this idea I need to get these printed and up on etsy!

Why is it only little ones get to wear the self-congratulatory items like these (and the one above)?

Well, OK, now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’m willing to wear a shirt with “44” written in balloons on it.

Although I was pleased to wear my new birthday socks a friend gave me this year!