The Mystery of the Soldier in the Pink Boxers

What Women Really Think
May 21 2009 5:46 PM

The Mystery of the Soldier in the Pink Boxers

On May 12, the New York Times ran a photograph featuring a soldier in his underpants . The photo was eye-catching-I know it caught my eye-and appeared above the fold on the front page. The photo was taken by David Guttenfelder for the Associated Press , and its subject was Spc. Zachary Boyd of Fort Worth, Texas. But what made it a standout was that it was taken in Afghanistan, and Boyd was in his Army gear and brandishing a weapon but doing so in pink underwear. A few days later, an IT guy at the Times noticed that site visitors were searching for the usual subjects-"Obama," "India," and "cancer" among them-but there was something new, too: "pink boxers." As it turned out, they were looking for Boyd.

Lens , a wonderful new photojournalism blog the Times launched recently, has the story behind the photo that spawned the pink boxers searches .

Advertisement

"It had an impact on me immediately," [ Times editor Michele McNally] said. "Your first reaction is: 'What? What’s going on?' Because you are smiling-and then you realize its meaning. War never stops, look how intense it could get. You understand then that he is fighting out of uniform, in underwear which reads "I Love NY," in the midst of really rough terrain in a remote region so very far from home. And New York.

"And yet again, it calls up what mom said, 'Always wear clean underwear, you never know.' "

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.