Last week I found myself in the classic bad dream scenario of standing in front of a classroom with no clothes on.

Can you believe that I almost forgot my running shoes today? Hate when that happens.

Oh, OK. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But the experience was still fantastically nightmarish. 

It all happened when I was addressing the grim topic of job prospects with 160 third-year media students at my Sydney university. That’s when I noticed something odd on the ground at my feet. “Jees,” I thought, looking down. “What’s that strange black thing round my ankles?”

And then I realised. It was my skirt. It had fallen off. Utterly and completely off. In one of those old-school lecture theatres whose tiered seating permits everyone a perfect view of the lecturer (and the lecturer’s undergarments if her skirt happens to be embracing radical dysfunctionality at the time).

I stared downwards in silent mortification for what felt like several semesters, but was probably only several seconds. Then I stepped to one side, picked up my skirt, and resumed my speech about dressing appropriately in professional contexts.

(Of course later I pretended my epic zipper fail was a deliberate stunt to illustrate what NOT to do in job type situations, but no-one bought it. Especially when I had to finish that lecture and then another one skirt-less.)

Anyway. When I told my friends about my extraordinary wardrobe malfunction, many offered Janet Jackson-strength stories of their own. One yoga enthusiast remembered the time his manhood flopped out of the waistband of his track suit pants shortly after he’d commenced a head stand.

His yoga teacher – who was moving around the class adjusting other students’ poses at the time – simply tucked it back in for him as she passed.

Another friend – let’s just call her Dr Anne the vet – recalls the night a kelpie was hit by a car in her street while she was in the shower.

“I grabbed a towel and ran out outside where all the cars were backed up like a scene from Independence Day,” she says. “Everyone was screaming and then, when I bent down to check the dog, my towel dropped off completely so I was totally starkers.”

For reasons she is still unable to fathom, Dr Anne (who went on to save the kelpie’s life) found herself addressing the traumatised car driver with an oh-so-Hollywood: “Ma’am, please step out of the vehicle…”

I doubt there’s a moral to this story. All I know is that this week I plan to teach in an industrial-strength, neck-to-knee, lab-tested, perma-suit to avoid yet another chapter of The Lecturer Stripped Bare. Or should that be Fifty Shades of Embarrassment?

Most commented


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    • Gregg says:

      06:34am | 26/07/12

      Why would you step to one side Emma to go on to other lectures skirtless and not just hoist the skirt back up and see if anyone had a safety pin in case the modern mediawoman doesn’t keep such a handy device or a waist plus length of twine in her walkaround kit.

      That would be a good demo on how even media people ought to be prepared for many things in life.

    • Super D says:

      06:50am | 26/07/12

      What the hell is the country going to do with another 160 media studies graduates? What happens to the 90% who don’t get jobs in the media? Does the excess of media graduates lead to an increase in spin doctors?

    • Jason says:

      08:40am | 26/07/12

      Oh shut up. That’s not what this article is about.

    • Susan says:

      12:41pm | 26/07/12’s ok that Super D had another take on the piece surely.  Super D…try “on a tangent” as the opener or something…just to avoid the purist angst.

    • Alfie says:

      06:55am | 26/07/12

      That photo does it for me. I will be taking a bottle of Spray’n'wipe to my next gym session. Gross….

    • Lisa says:

      09:26am | 26/07/12

      You’re brave to still go.  This is the excuse (nightmare!) I need not to go for another couple of weeks.  Eeeep!

    • AJ of Here says:

      01:59pm | 26/07/12

      There are reasons why I do NOT go to gyms. This photo just made my top 2…

    • Alfie says:

      06:55am | 26/07/12

      That photo does it for me. I will be taking a bottle of Spray’n'wipe to my next gym session. Gross….

    • P. Walker says:

      06:59am | 26/07/12

      ...and the point of this is .....?  A slow day.

    • M says:

      07:36am | 26/07/12

      Maintaining composure under pressure.

    • TracyH says:

      07:40am | 26/07/12

      Embarrassment is a part of life, an awful feeling! It’s an interesting topic, in my opinion.

    • Shep says:

      09:23am | 26/07/12

      Fun ....

      Go read some of the other stories ... I guarantee you’ll be back here with a smile.

      I especially love the yoga class story. 

      I remember hearing about Hugh Jackman’s response to a wardrobe malfunction by one of his attractive female co-stars, who when hanging upside down in a tight bodice misplaced a nipple, gentleman that he is he tucked it back in for her, and commented something along the line of “one of her puppies had slipped out”.  Made him infinitely more human.

      As does this story make us all more alike, embarrassment is a great leveler.

    • AJ of Here says:

      01:56pm | 26/07/12

      Bodice and hanging upside down? Sounds like Van Helsing…

    • thatmosis says:

      07:13am | 26/07/12

      And why were you embarrassed, do you have one leg that looks like a tree trunk and the other like a stick of celery, or maybe your arse is huge and the cellulite on your thighs looks like slightly off cream cheese. Or could it be that the old Christian values of nudity being wrong suddenly appeared out of the ether.
        There is nothing wrong with being nude, we were born nude and my explanation to people is that if god had meant us to be clothes we would have been born with a three piece suit or an evening dress , depending on your sex or your leanings.
        My wife and I have been nudists for over 40 years and see nothing wrong with the human body and we’ve seen just about every type of it that can be seen and we have both posed nude for art classes without feeling the least bit embarrassed or guilty. This thing about nudity is so old hat and I find that a lot of people when given the opportunity to go nude in a pleasant environment embrace it and wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.
        You dropped your skirt, its not the end of the world, grow up.

    • green frog says:

      07:47am | 26/07/12

      So you would rather be rude than fully clothed, give me Emma any day over you.  It’s alight-hearted piece that was funny.  You are simply an obnoxious person hiding behind a keyboard.  And the unfortunate part is that you think you are all grown up because you wear your rude bits on the outside.

    • TracyH says:

      08:04am | 26/07/12

      thatmosis…so you’ve been nudists for 40 yrs, therefore you wouldn’t be embarrassed in this situation. Have you ever felt embarrassed in any other situation? If you have, well…grow up.

    • Ronald says:

      08:25am | 26/07/12

      Nudists fro 40 years thatmosis? Spare us all the gory details my man. We dont want to even think about your saggy old body.

    • thatmosis says:

      03:30pm | 26/07/12

      green frog , where did I say rude?????, I did say nude several times but rude, methinks you are one of those who thinks nudity is dirty, poor sole.
        Ronald, and what makes you think that your statement is a statement of fact, have you ever met me or do you know anyone that has, probably not and for your information I still have a good body with no surplus fat, no flabby bits or saggy old body as I exercise daily, play golf 4 times a week and walk the course and eat well, don’t drink or smoke and generally look after myself, can you say the same or are your comments based on your own physique.  I was going to say I had the body of a 30 year old but she was out but thought that a bit gauche.
      TracyH, cant remember being embarrassed in any situation that I can recall except when I read the posts to my posts and felt more sorry for the posters than embarrassed. Shit happens and if one remembers that then why should you feel embarrassed.

    • Servaas says:

      06:49pm | 26/07/12

      “My wife and I” - there is your problem. The rest of us prefer and appreciate you with clothes on rather. Thank you.

    • Mahhrat says:

      07:53am | 26/07/12

      When I was about six, I was asked to play Jesus at a rendition of the last supper.

      My tiny boy hands couldn’t break the stale bread into chunks.  In front of what seemed like a million people, I perfectly said my lines, then stood there wrestling with a moldy roll.

      My dad taught me an impressive lesson that day.  He said:

      Dad:  “The roll was nobody’s fault.  The teachers didn’t deliberately go get stale bread that you couldn’t tear just to make you look bad.

      Think about it though.  If you were sitting there watching some other kid struggle like you did, how would you react?”

      Me:  “I would have laughed.”

      Dad:  “Exactly!  So laugh anyway.  It was funny!  If any kids try to make fun of you, just walk away from them, they aren’t worth your time.”

      Next day, I laughed along with the teachers and the kids who didn’t insult me, and simply walked away from the others.  Strangely, it worked, and damn me if it isn’t a great lesson.

      The world’s not out to “get” you, it’s just 7 billion people trying to make sense of shit like you are.  Don’t worry about what you can’t control, be nice to others, and buy fresh bread for the kids.

    • miloinacup says:

      09:36am | 26/07/12

      HAHAHA “tiny boy hands” cracked me up

    • Mahhrat says:

      11:06am | 26/07/12

      In my shattered memories of the event, my hands were the size of 20c pieces, the bread something akin to a French Loaf in size.  In reality, it was just a normal crusty hot dog roll.

    • captainobvious says:

      08:03am | 26/07/12

      Jeez… it’s just a quaint little story guys, settle down!

    • acotrel says:

      08:13am | 26/07/12

      We only care about nudity because prudery is trendy.  So is having a horn under your caftan !

    • M says:

      08:49am | 26/07/12

      Prudery does seem to be trendy nowadays doesn’t it? What happened to the free love thing of the 60’s? I hold you boomers personally responsible for letting that movement die.

    • Susan says:

      09:57am | 26/07/12

      I thought only cult leaders had caftans!  My mother had quite a collection and I wish we had put them aside now.

    • Ronald says:

      08:22am | 26/07/12

      Glad to see a towel over the seat. We dont want poo poos all over it do we?

    • Shep says:

      09:27am | 26/07/12

      Or for that matter Bum juice of any kind.

    • ibast says:

      08:46am | 26/07/12

      Well that will teach you to wear good underwear.

    • Robinoz says:

      08:58am | 26/07/12

      Maybe you are fading away to a shadow and your clothes don’t fit. If nothing else, it made the substance of a short yarn on The Punch.

    • Susan says:

      09:56am | 26/07/12

      Sometimes gone out with clothes completely inside out..both top and pants or skirt.  What’s funny in hindsight is seeing people’s reaction as they aren’t sure whether you meant to do it as some weird fashion statement, or you just made a mistake.  I went out with a jumper on inside out the other day but realised in the carpark and was able to quickly reverse it.

      Also did a talk once on organisms in the environment when I was a student.  Yep, said orgasm all the way through it until someone finally laughed and pointed it out.  Then I blushed and stammered between both words.  Very glad when the talk ended though someone calling out…“was it as good for you as for us” was a novel moment.

    • Coal Train says:

      10:48am | 26/07/12

      I’ve done the exact same thing referring to orgasms instead of organisms, it was in college. My speech wasn’t that great, but it was definitely the one that got the most excitement. I guess its the pitfall of any biology student

    • sunny says:

      02:44pm | 26/07/12

      Susan that’s pretty funny I can just picture it “There has been much study of this orgasm but scientist still don’t know everything about it. They know it thrives in dark damp warm places, but it remains very elusive ...”

    • Gordon says:

      10:25am | 26/07/12

      Saw Geoffery Rush as Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest”. He lost the skirt in the middle of the scene & didn’t notice for a line or two, realised what was going on and sailed off stage still in full character. I would hate to have been the wadrobe mistress that day.  Anyway, with dress fixed the show went on, big applause all round. Shit happens and making a fuss only makes it worse.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      10:38am | 26/07/12

      When I was a teenager, I was running late to catch my school bus so I got dressed, grabbed my gear and ran out the door and down the street.  As I was running I felt a swinging sensation in my pants and realised that I hadn’t put on any undies.  Lucky I noticed otherwise while getting changed for sport I and my fellow students would have gotten a nasty surprise in teh change room.

      Luckily I was able to go back inside put some reg grundys on and srill made the bus.

    • Coal Train says:

      10:55am | 26/07/12

      I’ve had a typical beach goers nightmare. After getting dumped by a particularly nasty wave, I decided to get out and rest my addled brain. Needless to say the parents of the kids in the water immediately adjacent to my exit of the water were not impressed. My friends and the lifeguards found it hilarious though, and not one of the bastards offered to help cover my junk. Brings the walk of shame a whole other meaning.

      I still haven’t lived that one down…

    • Susan says:

      01:24pm | 26/07/12

      Reminded me of being at a public pool and a guy was at the end on the stand seats and was laying down.  He feel asleep and got a very obvious erection that everyone in the pool wound up gazing at.  One of those moments when the pool manager was NOT amused and sent a staff member to wake the bloke up.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      01:46pm | 26/07/12

      minnow or shark? *wink*

    • Chris L says:

      11:02am | 26/07/12

      I can keep a calm demeanour in almost any situation, yet for some reason I blush at the most innocuous of causes. No matter how liberal minded I am, comfortable with the human body (even my own), as open minded and non-judgemental as I can achieve, I still blush at the merest cause, even at my own jokes!

      I find that far more humiliating than any actually embarrasing event like having pants fall down.

    • big blue says:

      11:05am | 26/07/12

      What I have never been able to understand is the stigma that goes with being seen in your underwhere.

      A girl will happily go to the beach in a bikini but will freak out at the concept of being seen in her underwhere?

    • trishe says:

      11:56am | 26/07/12


    • TracyH says:

      11:57am | 26/07/12

      When i was a teenager, my friend (who’s parents were super stuck up and ‘posh’) across the road was into Transcendal Meditation. I knocked on her door one arvo, and asked her mother (who I was scared shitless of) if Tammy was available, or whether she was in her bedroom masturbating. OOPS, I mean MEDITATING!!!

    • Scotchfinger says:

      01:35pm | 26/07/12

      ...and was she?

    • the cynic says:

      12:27pm | 26/07/12

      big blue says ........underwhere?  This subject has certainly got you confused alright.

    • daf says:

      01:05pm | 26/07/12

      Had a particularly nasty root canal treatment which required extra injections, then trotted across the center of the known Universe (King George Square in Brissie) when it eventually dawned that I was getting more glances than usual.  Skirt caught up? - nope, pantsuit on.  Zipper undone? - no.  Pants split?  - subtle grope under the jacket - no.  A fly hovered above my nose so I swiped it away with the back of my hand ... which collected a long line of you-know-what from my frozen face ...

    • NikRaf says:

      01:09pm | 26/07/12

      i see you did not have women in the pic , now that is sexiest

    • MammaMia says:

      01:10pm | 26/07/12

      Love it !!
      Same thing kind of happened to me..except I was rushing for a bus on a VERY busy road..and down the skirt went. Unfortunately though, I was wearing the last pair of undies in the drawer, the type that Nan would have loved… Embarassing yes, but so so funny !

    • Peter Thornton says:

      01:14pm | 26/07/12

      This article? Yawn…

    • Chris L says:

      01:59pm | 26/07/12

      Yet you not only read it but went to the extra trouble of adding a comment. People are strange.

    • Peter Thornton says:

      04:36pm | 26/07/12

      Incorrect. I read the first few lines. I do not need to read an entire book before I decide it’s boring. Sorry to harsh your mellow, but the same judgement can be applied to any consumer product or service. Time is valuable. I work at keeping an open mind not an empty one.

    • Peter Thornton says:

      04:37pm | 26/07/12

      Incorrect. I read the first few lines. I do not need to read an entire book before I decide it’s boring. Sorry to harsh your mellow, but the same judgement can be applied to any consumer product or service. Time is valuable. I work at keeping an open mind not an empty one.

    • bullwinkle says:

      01:27pm | 26/07/12

      My very first day at secondary school, having gone from a primary school with a total enrolment of 18 (yes, 18) to a boys only college of some 800, I unknowingly ripped the arse out of my pants. I am eternally grateful to the senior student who kindly pointed out at lunch time that the red jocks I was wearing were ‘in’.

    • Scotchfinger says:

      01:53pm | 26/07/12

      boy’s school, hmm? Is complimenting the colour of another boy’s underwear some sort of come-on?

    • big blue says:

      01:29pm | 26/07/12

      The subject is about modesty with relevance to the naked human body

      I was simply offering up a concept that is directly linked.

      thanks for your input cynic.

    • Susan says:

      01:52pm | 26/07/12

      Your original comment was right…we often do feel awkward about underwear but then put on something just as slight and don’t feel concerned about that at all. 

      Off-topic I sometimes muse over the young girls who wear short shorts in winter (with stockings underneath), have bare midriffs but then one heck of a big scarf on!  You know the type, wound around twice with lots hanging over and very thick.  Never quite understood that look of bare midriff and BIG scarf. wink

    • Big Blue says:

      03:22pm | 26/07/12

      I guess they are just trying to flaunt what looks best while attempting in the slightest to maintain some element of warmth.

      Im not complaining but, I feel real admiration for the girls who dress like that purely for my enjoyment.

      Good on em, Keep up the good work girls.

    • Big Blue says:

      03:22pm | 26/07/12

      I guess they are just trying to flaunt what looks best while attempting in the slightest to maintain some element of warmth.

      Im not complaining but, I feel real admiration for the girls who dress like that purely for my enjoyment.

      Good on em, Keep up the good work girls.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      01:51pm | 26/07/12

      Really, Emma, MUST you put such a vomit-inducing photo at the top ? I have nothing against nudity but there comes a time when men & women of a “certain age” should NOT under any circumstances allow themselves to be photgraphed in the nude and this is one oif those times!
      Hope the audience enjoyed your skirt-tease!!
      Looking at your pic above I think you should have been in that photo instead for, at the risk of some ghastly feminist or red-neck bigot verbally abusing me, you look like quite an attractive dish!!!!!!!

    • Daniel says:

      02:20pm | 26/07/12

      That’s the whole thing. Our society cannot seem to separate nakedness with sexuality. Nudists accept each others bodies as they are without “the restriction of clothes” that includes old and fat. When you realise this, for most people nudism loses it’s appeal. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be young and sexy forever? That way nude beaches would be appealing -see I did it too.


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