Summary: Lingerie as a Trojan horse for feminism, or: Hiding politics in your panties.
(If you haven’t read Part One, I suggest doing so. It’s right here).
My withdrawal from some political conversations* has given me space for the other shit I care about. That includes writing a book (!), and waxing lyrical about lingerie, and so far I’ve managed to make these intersect quite nicely. (No spoilers!)
[*My next post explains this more, and gives a clearer idea of where I’m headed].
Of course, feminism is still politics, and that’s why Confessions: Part One focused on the message that lingerie is for everybody, while simultaneously enforcing that it doesn’t have to be about anyone but the wearer.
I said Part Two would explore brand variety and designers – and get more personal. I’m no stranger to using my ‘private’ life to highlight an issue. And yes, lingerie isn’t as important as our fucked health and welfare systems, but it’s also not just a hobby. It’s something I use to combat systemic bullshit. It’s a tool against patriarchy. It’s a world that I want to share.
However, I had too much to say, so decided talking about brands is a separate post. We’re staying personal.
Fundamentally, the person wearing the lingerie is the one who matters most.
In Part One I talked about the need to consciously decouple lingerie and sex. Obviously I’m not applying this to every situation – a lot of the time the two are entwined in a positive, healthy and awesome way. But if we’re to understand the relationship between our bodies and the underwear we choose, we need to look further than the historically informed ‘male gaze.’ Any gaze, except our own.
This Insta post by Ophelia Elysian about Sofia Luzon mirrors what I’m trying to say.
“The ever lovely @sofialuzonlingerie is graciously hosting a giveaway to win a voucher towards any one of her collections. I have been an avid fan and supporter of her work since early 2017, and have had the opportunity to collaborate with her on several occasions. The experience of seeing her works up close, of being able to touch and wear them, showcased for me just how effeminate and soft the pieces were, and I would dearly love to permanently own a piece of her art.
One of the main observations that can be made about Sofia’s work (and the main reason why I love it so much) is that her creations seem to be drafted with the female gaze in mind. Whereas other luxury lingerie brands often focus on selling for sex appeal, the pieces intended for the gaze of others, each of Sofia’s pieces capture a fanciful, personal feeling. She plays with the idea of romance and whimsy, using gorgeous lace and tulle to create silhouettes that carry over no matter what body type you have.
The delicate aesthetic and almost gossamer appearance of her work is something that I very much identify with and look for when browsing for new pieces to add to my collection.
Nonetheless, this is my entry for the giveaway – wish me luck! I hope you enjoyed watching it as much as I enjoyed creating this. Thank you to the awesome team involved.”
My exploration of ‘the gaze,’ and my relationship with and enthusiasm for lingerie exactly as Ophelia’s described, lead me to making a locked Insta account: meaning pics of my collection, and of me wearing it. It’s fun, creative, confronting and scary as heck. This is part of my journey towards body positivity and my fight against anorexia. And, it also fulfills is a very human need to connect about the things I love. I love lingerie and I struggle to find others who do in the same way.
How did I get here?
I remember when I bought myself my first piece of genuinely good quality, nice lingerie. I’d owned plenty of stuff I’d considered lovely before then – most of it horribly uncomfortable, partially because I was wearing the wrong size (80% of women are wearing the wrong size, I cannot stress this enough).
The piece was a Heidi Klum Intimates Sofia underwire bra. The style was so popular, when Bendon launched the rebranded me.by bendon line, it’s been re-released. (More about that rebranding in Part 3).
The bra is black with pink accents and scallop-shaped soft cups that, in some form of arcane magic, actually manage to give me the illusion of cleavage I do not have. I liked it so much I bought it in two other colourways.
Unfortunately, this was before I understood that collections are very rarely re-released. So if you buy a bra without the matching panties, for example, you may never be able to complete the set. This probably doesn’t matter to most people, but I’m Particular – which is why I was super excited about me.by bendon.
Then I discovered the Bendon Outlet in Nelson, and Things Were Never The Same Again.
Down the rabbit hole: Instagram and Lingerie Lowdown
I’m still an insta noob, but quite honestly, I’ve found it so positive. Of course, my feed is lingerie, writing, books, and friends.
I finally found a lingerie community of creators and addicts alike. Designers crafting things that make me almost cry with their beauty, and other people crying too. And, in contrast to the websites of most major brands, where the models are still majority white, slim and able bodied, people of every possible shape, size, ability, and walk of life are wearing and loving lingerie and feeling, as well as looking, amazing. (Click on the pics for source).
Lingerie Lowdown has also been fundamental for me. I found LL through their podcast first, then insta, then I subscribed to the site.
LL brings together a huge team of impartial, honest reviewers from across the world – more than 115 people in 14 countries. The site has 6,000 product reviews – and growing – covering more than 500 brands. Not only is it extremely useful for purchasing choices, I’ve learned soooo much, and made new friends.
Because I now consume more of that type of content – my Insta and LL – I’m slowly unpicking a whole bunch of socialised bullshit in my brain about how women “should” look in lingerie. And I’m understanding that the look is only part of the experience. It’s so much more about how the wearer feels.
Basically – and I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock to many – no one has to look like a model to be happy, comfortable and gorgeous in their undies. And we don’t have to wear them for anyone but ourselves.
Lingerie is about learning to love the skin I’m in, which is totally a terrible tagline from somewhere, but it sits right. And that’s why I’m evangelical about it – because I truly believe lingerie used to be a tool of the patriarchy, and there is so much power – and fun – in taking it back.
So… HMU if you ever need a recommendation.
Stayed tuned for Confessions of a Lingerie Addict: Part 3 – designers, brands and labels to love.