Programming Connection

The Underwear Project 

Montreal, Quebec

What is the Program?

The “Hey fille! Mets tes culottes!” and “Attache ta tuque! Fais un homme de toi!” programs (which translate roughly to “Hey Girl! Put On Your Pants!” and “Hang On to Your Hat! Make a Man of Yourself!” and are collectively referred to in this case study as “The Underwear Project”) encourage young women and men in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood to practice safer sex despite conflicting pressures related to expected gender roles from families, sexual partners, peers and the community in general. The crux of this program is outreach to youth using underwear bearing peer-developed safer-sex messages.

While a select number of youth participate in a focus group to create peer-based messaging around safer sex, the majority of participants are engaged during the program’s one-on-one outreach stage in which the underwear with the safer-sex messaging is distributed to participants by service providers, serving as a departure point for deeper discussions about sexual health. The underwear comes attached with a condom and a wallet-sized resource card that lists contact information for multiple youth-focused services, including a teen help line, resources on where to access housing, legal rights, and nearby clinics offering reproductive and sexual health services and HIV, STI and pregnancy testing.

Furthermore, the goal is for the underwear to serve as an ongoing tool to engage youth in safer sex: By wearing the slogan in such an intimate place and by associating it so closely with their sexuality, participants can keep the concepts of safer sex that have been discussed with service providers during outreach clearly in mind. When the young women and men wear their unique underwear, it can serve as a discussion point for safer sex with their peers and sexual partners.