Tuesday, 24 January 2017

It's Not the Purpose of Lingerie to Turn Men On

A left side view of a woman's torso in a light blue-green bra, as she stands at a window. Her arms are wrapped around herself, and she holds a sprig of flowers in her right hand.

Last year, I wrote about how I started to go braless during the Summer for the first time since starting to wear bras. However, while I feel it's important that women should be able to go without a bra and not feel self-conscious, I have to admit that I do like wearing bras. I actually love underwear! If it's pretty and cute, then I want it. I find it difficult to go clothes shopping and not end up buying a load of knickers and bras to take home with me.

But there seems to be a misconception about who lingerie is for.

Boux Avenue's Christmas advert for last year features women walking around a house in their underwear, while a snowman with a shocked expressing watches - at one point, his nose pops out of his face, and we can all guess what that's meant to be symbolising. The advert ends with the snowman smiling as he's now with a snow-woman in lingerie, and a voice over saying, "Melt someone's heart this Christmas."

In May last year, Calvin Klein released their adverts for underwear, one of which was a photo taken from below, looking up a model's dress, with her legs wide apart.

An advert made for cinema for Agent Provocateur form 2001 features Kylie Minogue riding a red velvet rodeo bull in her underwear, everything about her simulating sex, from how she's riding the rodeo bull, to the faces she pulls, to how she uses her free hand. The advert starts with Kylie saying, "Agent Provocateur is the most erotic lingerie in the world, and with your help, we can prove it." It ends with her asking the men in the audience to stand up.

All these adverts imply that lingerie is for men; that women wear lingerie for the sole purpose of being looked at by men and turning them on. Funny, because I thought the purpose of a bra is to offer women support, and knickers to stop outer clothing becoming soiled by bodily fluids?

Yes, lingerie can be sexy, but how about we create adverts for women that focus less on how hot we will look and how we will turn men on (which is pretty heteronormative, anyway), but on how they can make us feel. How about we just stop with sexualising women's bodies altogether? How about we stop focusing on how men see us, like their opinion is the most important - more important than our own?

Why do I love lingerie so much? Because I feel good in it. I think I look awesome in underwear, and that helps with my self-confidence. We all have body hang-ups, and although I'm doing pretty well on the body positivity front, I don't love everything about how I look - or rather, I see my body, and know that it's not how it's "supposed" to look by the media's standards. Women are "meant" to be curvy, and I am not. I am very slim, and I have size 30B boobs. They're small, and small boobs are not attractive. Attractive to who? And who says? - I know. But knowing it's ridiculous doesn't change the fact that my body isn't what is "fashionable" right now. So putting on some pretty lingerie, looking in the mirror and feeling like a million dollars? I don't give a crap if my body isn't "fashionable", I look bloody amazing. That is why I love lingerie. It makes me feel fantastic. It's what's so great about lingerie, not only does it have a practical purpose, but it's a really great tool to boost your self-esteem and confidence.

And, no, I don't wear lingerie for anyone else. As I've said before, I've never had a boyfriend, and I'm still a virgin. No guy has ever seen me in my underwear - I have never put on lingerie to look a certain way for when a guy sees me in it. I wear my underwear for me. And you know what? No-one knows what underwear I'm wearing. I can be wearing a normal t-shirt and jeans, but I'll be wearing my pretty, sexy underwear underneath and no-one knows except me. No-one else needs to know what lingerie I am wearing for me to feel good in it.

The only gaze that matters when I'm wearing lingerie is my own.

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  1. SUCH a good point, Jo. So much of women's marketing is aimed towards the reaction they'll get from men (and there's also a lot the other way around). It's heteronormative, as you say. I think there's a lot of reclaiming to be done by women in terms of experiences that empower them as individuals, instead of in relation to empowerment that is gained by the sexual attention of a man. I love to hear that you're absolutely owning this and just enjoying your body for you! Also, if ya ever wanna swap boobs, I'd be happy to haha. xx

    1. So glad you agree, Suzy! It does happen the other way round, too. It didn't occur to me when I was writing this, but you only have to look at a Linx advert to see it. (Though I really don't get those adverts. I tend not to like men's deoderant, and generally strong scents give me a headache. Linx is more likely to keep me away, ha!)

      We defintely need to reclaim these experiences. They're ours, and don't have (to have) anything to do with men. And yes, our sense of self-worth and our positive body shouldn't rely on the opinions of men.

      Haha, thanks, Suzy! But I think I'm mostly happy with mine - I can do without the back ache or the ogling (another topic for another day).