I have been thinking about how to express this post for a long time, and I’m not sure I’m going to do it right. I hope that the spirit of my words is understood and that if you’re reading this, you can do so with an open heart and mind. I have held back these thoughts and questions out of fear and the desire to stay in the good graces of my peers and colleagues whom I respect and adore but like so many things, it’s likely harder to talk about than to do, so here goes:
I primarily feel two things about Lingerie is For Everyone: gratitude and disappointment.
I am intensely grateful that a handful of you show up every week, decked out in beautiful things and sharing beautiful thoughts and feelings on life, love, bodies, courage, and sometimes even about lingerie (ha!). I know I gush every week about the images, and I am sincere, you collectively knock my socks off all the time! I’m grateful that so many people use the hashtags and share the idea that lingerie is for everyone. I’m grateful but I also feel I have failed you in this, somewhat.
When I set up LiFE, it was with the intention to create a space that was massively inclusive, to spark a movement, however small, that recognized and challenged the way that lingerie is viewed, how it’s traditionally tied to gender, age, race, class and who is “allowed” to wear lingerie. We have had a variety of participants and points of view shared here but by and large, week after week, it’s white cis women who come out. Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m all for the body and sex positivity that every person who participates exemplifies, regardless, and I am happy the cis white women are here. I am distinctly NOT disappointed by whom participates or what they share. There’s room for all voices here, but I’m disappointed in myself that I can’t seem to articulate the vision of LiFE in such a way that brings in a wider swath of lingerie-wearing folks. Where I feel this is my failing is that I’m clearly not fostering the space I thought I was and I don’t know how to widen the scope. Maybe it just takes time? Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree? Was I presumptuous in believing that more people outside the “lingerie norms” would want to create community around the discourse of delicate underthings? I began LiFE because allyship isn’t shit if there’s no action behind your words and I want to be a good global citizen and ally to groups I support but don’t belong to. I want to continue to recognize my own biases and privileges. I want to learn and I want to pay forward the kindness and acceptance I have been given in the sex+ community.
So how does one make a project like this, that in title and deed, is inclusive of ‘everyone’, more truly representative? My (selfish) fear is that sharing this sense of disappointment in myself sounds like virtue signalling, or creating excuses, but I honestly want this to be a safe, positive, inclusive and normalized space for lingerie wearers to share, express, subvert norms and celebrate. If you are reading this and you have wanted to join in and for any reason felt that you shouldn’t or couldn’t, please help me understand why, and if I can change that, I will. Feel free to use the comments, DM me on twitter, or use my contact form. Thank you in advance for your help and feedback.
As for this week’s highlights, I have three images from this week to direct your attention to, and in the spirit of inclusivity, each provides representation of a media-atypical lingerie demographic.
Yes, Marie fits the white cis woman majority here on LiFE (nothing wrong with that!) but she also represents lingerie as something accessible and enjoyable for people who are beyond their mid twenties/thirties. Mainstream lingerie marketing would *love* for us to believe that people in “middle age” (hate that term) or “seniors” (hate that term even more!) don’t want, like, wear or deserve, lingerie. Not true! This is not at all comment on Marie’s age – I have no idea her actual age! What I do know, is that regardless of chronological age and the limitations that Western society puts on people “of a certain age”, Marie proves that lingerie is for everyone and I am always pleased when the average age goes up for LiFE participants.
I love these pictures – I love the collaboration, I love that a common penchant for lingerie has helped forge a friendship between Posy and Mark and that as a cis male lingerie fan, Mark has found an ally in Posy .This collaboration makes me so glad that they both feel empowered by this outlet to express themselves. Straight cis men “aren’t supposed to” wear lingerie because that erodes the strength of the straight male gaze on lingerie, and the lingerie industry banks on the straightness and femininity of who wears lingerie and who they wear it for. I’m all for everything going on here – proof again that lingerie is for everyone, no matter your gender or sexuality.
DS frequents LiFE often, and her images and words are unfailingly nuanced and brilliant. In my opinion, her candidness and physicality in her photos is delightful. Deviant Succubus shows us, week after week, that fat and sexy, fat and sexual, fat and confident, are not mutually exclusive at all. In mainstream media and advertising in North America “plus size” is a relatively new concept for lingerie, and even then, it’s very carefully positioned as “Additional” and “Outside the normal range of sizes” by many brands. On top of that, these “plus sized” lines are mostly modelled by the smallest plus size models or by “regular size” models. Not exactly helpful or inclusive. DS’ bold and unapologetic images and dialogue represent, to my mind, a big part of what is missing in the subversion of body norms. As a fat babe I am forever inspired by DS and her style, confidence and individuality. If lingerie is for everyone, that includes all kinds of bodies, fit, fat and in between.
Before I sign off, I want to thank you all again for the tremendous support for LiFE, your ongoing contributions and your feedback. This is a community project and you (and you and you!) make it work.
Other/stock images credited to DapperQ.com, one of the world’s most widely read digital queer style magazines and a preeminent voice in queer fashion and beauty.