In modern times, the term has been used by news sources in the media, specifically when female celebrities have free-buffed under their skirt or dress. Dr. Vanessa Mackay of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggests that going commando can be healthy for the vagina and may improve certain conditions while sleeping.
The origins of the phrase "go commando" are uncertain, with some speculating that it may refer to being "out in the open" or "ready for action".
Slate magazine's Daniel Engber dates the modern usage to United States college campuses circa 1974, where it was perhaps associated with soldiers in the Vietnam War, who were reputed to go without underwear to "increase ventilation and reduce moisture". However, more recently, Graeme Donald has pointed out that the US forces are "Rangers" rather than "Commandos", and that in any case, the phrase was in use in the UK, referring mainly to women, from the late 1960s. The connection to the UK and women has been suggested to link to a World War II euphemism for prostitutes working in London's West End, who were termed "Piccadilly Commandos".
US Navy Underwater Demolitions Teams and SEAL commandos have a tradition of not wearing underwear that originated during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training when trainees spend extended hours in the sand and beach surf with no opportunity to remove sand collecting in their pants other than encourage it to fall out, without being hindered by underwear. Unrelenting training could also leave no opportunities for toilet breaks, necessitating reliving themselves in their pants, again, relying on the lack of underwear let waste be carried away by the sea water. The saying "frogmen don't wear skivvies" refers to this. Bar girls in Olongapo, Philippines were known to check in men's pants to see if they were wearing underwear to verify if they were really UDT or SEAL members, sometimes yelling "skivvie check!" in when doing so. This became a running joke, and sometimes embarrassment, associated with former UDT member and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura. Issues with sand, as well as jungle heat and humidity, made silk underwear, including women's silk panties, common among special forces in during the Vietnam War.
Usage, benefits, and drawbacks
Dena Westphalen of Healthline suggested that women who experience discomfort from tight underwear can reduce labial chafing by going commando. However, in an interview with Health, Donnica Moore cautioned that going commando exposes the vulva to clothing that is not designed to come into contact with it, which can cause discomfort, increase the risk of chafing, and reveal a camel toe.
In HuffPost, Scott Osmun and Mary Rosser recommended going commando as a suitable alternative to using underwear made of moisture-wicking fabrics for exercise. Alyssa Dweck concurred in Shape, noting that going commando eliminates a visible panty line, as well as improving flexibility and mobility during aerobic exercise. However, Dweck also warned against going commando during a menstrual cycle, as underwear provides additional protection against the leaking of bodily fluids.
In an open-access poll in 2014, 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair asked visitors to their websites the question "How often do you 'go commando'?" 7% of the respondents said that they go commando "all the time", 5% go commando "once a week", 13% go commando "occasionally", 39% "never" go commando, and 35% did not know the meaning of the term "go commando".[dubious ]
The phrase has been adapted to describe a lack of certain other items of clothing. One example would be "going fommando", believed to be coined by Thomas Dobbs Lazaro in reference to going outside in bare feet. The phrase, coined during the 2013 Spanish heatwave, has become particularly popular among British expat populations living in Spain.
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It's during the Vietnamese war, that the earliest cases of going without underwear were recorded. It meant ... being 'out in the open' or 'ready for action'.
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[T]he episode also introduced the term 'going commando' into the popular vernacular.
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To answer the questions yourself, visit the 60 Minutes homepage at CBSNews.com.
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