This week’s highlights were not easy to choose! Every week you all make it so difficult to pick, and that is a good thing! I try to be honest in my highlight choices and share the posts that really stick out to me or, more likely, the ones that bring me back time and again through the week to see them, re-read the post, think about the things the person has shared, etc. but every week I am intrigued by many, if not all, submissions.
Everyone who participates in #lingerieisforeveryone seems to really “get” the idea behind the meme: it’s not really about the lingerie. Well, it is, and it isn’t. The act of taking and sharing the image (or writing and sharing your words) is the activism behind #LiFE, because it’s really about reclaiming the space that lingerie takes up in our visual and emotional world. Full disclosure: I’ve been re-watching Mad Men, and I have so much to say about media and image control in advertising.
<clears throat, steps up onto the proverbial soapbox>
So many of us have been told, indirectly or directly, that lingerie is not for us, often in ways that we’ve internalised and haven’t even considered. Some examples of how you may have been put off by, or felt not included in, or unable to participate in, the ‘cultural standards’ for lingerie:
Gender and Orientation: Lingerie has long-been strictly kept to the domain of women’s fashion, more specifically straight, cis women. It’s been heralded as a “duty” to straight relationships that women buy, maintain and wear lingerie to get/keep/please their man. Not surprisingly, there are body standards that come with such instructions too, and if your gender expression is anything other than cishet you have probably never seen much, if anything, in media encouraging you to express yourself in lingerie. You don’t have to be a feminine cishet woman to wear (and share!) your love of lingerie. You are welcome here.
Bodies: It’s not surprising that the women to whom lingerie is marketed are expected to be tall, slim, fit, able-bodied and completely body confident. Moreover, fashion sells the dream, the experience, and the ideal of tall, slim, fit, able and mostly Caucasian, bodies. There is nothing wrong with being any of those things, but the people who want to wear lingerie come in many more variations than the typical ad campaign will show. Honestly, if I see one more article on how “babydoll” styles are the only lingerie for people with hips, bellies, or boobs, (all of which are obviously unsightly <sarcasm>) I might scream. You don’t have to be a Victoria Secret model to look amazeballs in lingerie. Fuck bodyshaming and ableism and the people who do it. You are welcome here.
Youth: A term that makes me want to spit hot poison right in the eyeballs of the people who say it is “age appropriate” when it’s applied to adults. Sure, kids and teens may need guidance or direction on what’s age appropriate, but an adult? Ridiculous. Limiting who should be “allowed” to wear lingerie is complete bullshit in general but the idea that it’s only for the young, or young looking, only furthers the concept that older people are not sexual or desirous, thereby invalidating their expression. Spoiler alert: not accurate. Besides, how old is too old and who decides these statutes of limitation? It’s a piss-poor attempt at controlling the sensual expression of folks who are beyond the “youthful perfection” of folks in their 20s/early 30s. Fun fact: young =/= sexy. The confidence to know who you are and what you want, is. Ironically, that’s something that many people don’t arrive at until they are a bit older. You don’t have to be guzzling from the fountains of youth to wear lingerie. You won’t look ‘silly’ or like you’re ‘trying too hard’. You are welcome here.
Ethnicity: Mainstream media defaults to white people, thus, if we look at colour/race in the world of lingerie, there is inadequate representation, as is true in many areas. Just for fun, I typed “lingerie model” into the old Google-izer image search and counted how many images came up before one of them was a person of colour. It took more than 30 images to find anyone with a ‘plus-sized’ body, more than 40 images to find anyone who looked over 35, and a whopping 50 images before I found anyone who wasn’t Caucasian, and in the several hundred images in that search, only 14 were non-white. That’s just a cursory glance at how white the lingerie industry is, so if you’re not white and you’ve felt like lingerie was simply not made for you or isn’t marketed to you, that’s pretty understandable. Don’t even get me started on how the colour “nude” is almost always a version of Caucasian skin tones … <eye roll> You can be any colour under the sun and totally rock lingerie, it’s for you as much as anyone else. You are welcome here.
Wealth: The distinction between “underwear” and “lingerie” is fairly subjective, but most of us think of lingerie as being fancier, more overtly feminine, and more expensive than “everyday” wearables. As a luxury item, top brands in the industry control the price points and thereby create and control the appetite for expensive lingerie, even that which is mass produced in sweatshops in the developing world and not an atellier in Paris. The elitism of lingerie leaves those of us who are bargain shoppers often feeling like “proper” lingerie is out of reach and like we’re inadequate if our dresser drawers are not overflowing with expensive, gauzy items. That line of thinking can, if I’m being frank, fuck right off into the sea. Price isn’t important. Neither is quality, frankly, unless you are wearing it daily, functionally. In many cases lingerie doesn’t stay on long (sometimes that’s part of the point, right?) and therefore doesn’t need to be long-wearing or well constructed. Some of the best, hottest, most well-loved lingerie I have had has been so cheap as chips that it was practically disposable. Your lingerie collection needn’t be expensive! We’re looking at how gorgeous you are, not how spendy your outfit is. You are welcome here.
And even if it’s marketed to you, it’s not really for you: The lingerie industry has sold us a bill of goods when it comes to self image and lingerie, because even if you happen to fit the narrow ideal of “young, white, straight, feminine, fit, and female, with disposable income”, lingerie still isn’t geared towards you and your singular personal enjoyment of it. No, it’s for your (presumably cis male) partner, specifically for the male gaze. A lot of lingerie design is about fantasy fulfilment and the titillation of straight men, securing women in place as objects of desire, versus the subjects of their own experience.
That really gets my knickers in a twist.
I implore you: wear what you want, regardless of all the hurdles I’ve mentioned, no matter who says you shouldn’t, because if slipping into something that makes you walk a little taller, or gives you a thrill, or asserts your identity, or just makes you feel good is what you want to do, all the power to you. Lingerie is for everyone who wants to wear it and Lingerie Is For Everyone is a place where you can express yourself, because this place is for you, and for me, and for Everyone.
This week’s highlights