The #DiversityInLingerie hashtag started by Braless in Brazil has gained a lot of momentum recently. Izabela already contributed a guest post to Weirdly Shaped and Well Photographed, so one of Voluptuously Thin’s previous guest posters asked to write this post.
The purpose of #DiversityInLingerie is to let the lingerie industry know that we’d like to see a wider range of bodies displaying their products. There are so many different types of bodies which you don’t see when you’re looking at bras. Older women, women with scars, women with tattoos or piercings, women of color, women with visible body hair, women who are more slender or heavier than the ‘ideal’, mesomorphs, transgender people, women who are short or tall, women with visible disabilities, and even women with short hair are rarely seen modeling lingerie. The fact that many companies still think that ‘nude’ is a color shows just how far the industry has to go.
The idea that people would prefer to see people who more closely resemble them is not a new one. Yet there’s the competing evidence that people prefer to look at and reward those who are conventionally attractive. There’s profit to be made in the impression of embracing the diversity of human appearance, as seen by Dove’s popular Real Beauty campaign, but is this a fleeting benefit which will vanish if it is more widely applied? Consider that Dove’s sketch advertisement drew a great deal of criticism not for the use of ‘average’ women, but for its limited definition of diversity and its promotion of beauty.
We, as customers, are far more open to the idea of diversity than the companies that sell to us. We see it every day around us. Do people really believe that I, as a white woman, won’t purchase a product if it is advertised by a woman with darker skin? While I would prefer that the company didn’t try to compliment itself on its edginess when it uses a woman with tattoos in its advertising, I do take note of these things when they aren’t done in a self-aggrandizing way. I develop a feeling for which companies are ‘real’ and which are trying to sell me a ‘lifestyle’. (As a woman who prefers to dress more androgynously, it’s pretty clear I’m not the target audience for most lingerie ads, but I do have breasts, and I do wear a bra.)
If companies are worried that some forms of diversity will prove too distracting, they could always experiment with the most obviously practical form of diversity: body shapes. They could consider Ewa Michalak‘s approach of showing the same piece of lingerie on multiple models with very different shapes. It’s wonderful for me to be able to see how the construction of a bra changes in different cup sizes, and to get an idea of how it might look on my frame. The benefit is clear; I won’t be surprised to discover that the bra in my size has a completely different construction than the one I saw advertised.
But the most basic step isn’t enough, ultimately.
That’s because these airbrushed images of women affect the self-esteem of women. When a very narrow definition of beauty is constantly promoted, it’s no surprise that the majority of us feel that we don’t measure up. This lack of confidence affects women despite education, confidence in other areas of life, and health. It is why I, an assertive feminist woman pursuing a PhD in a male-dominated field, am including only this picture to accompany my post:
It’s because I don’t want you to see my stomach flab. I also didn’t tell you how old I am.
This is despite the fact that I know that I am not that different from people that I see around me, and some–such as my partner–find me beautiful. I’m not protected by not owning a TV, not giving a fig about fashion, and not reading ‘women’s’ magazines. Seeing the media messages for what they are doesn’t prevent insecurity. Being mad, as I am right now, and fighting to throw off this shame only succeeds some of the time, at least in the short-term. If this is how I feel, I can only imagine how it must feel to someone who is less represented than I (white and cis) am, or to someone more steeped in these messages.
This is why diversity in lingerie matters.
[Taken from Braless in Brasil]
For further reading on this topic see:
Lack of diversity in Brazilian lingerie models
Diversity is more than bra size
Why Lingerie for women is ageless
Ladies looking for more “nudes”
Token Diversity: A Step Forward or a Way to March in Place?
What you see is what you believe?
The Plus-age market: As Customers Age Lingerie Brands are using Older Models
Plus-Age Stars: 10 Lingerie Brands That Have Embraced Older Models
From now on, if you want to join me take a picture of yourself (can be with or without your face, in lingerie or clothes- whatever you feel comfortable with!) and somehow fit in the hashtag #DiversityInLingerie. You’re welcome to either post it on twitter with the hashtag or email me and I’ll put it up in a post on my blog. Starting today (August 21st) other bloggers will becoming out with their own posts and pictures so check back to this post for the links! I’ll post them as they come out.
I’d encourage women of ALL walks of life and appearance to join in. By participating you can show the lingerie industry that, yes, you’d buy lingerie from a diverse group of models, not just the ones currently shown. I want to be clear that this is nothing against the body types currently shown and I don’t want to get into a “real women” debate. We’re all real women. I just want a bigger pool of models so that ALL women can see someone like them and say “hey, she looks like me and that bra looks awesome on her, it could look awesome on me too!”. –
Other bloggers who are joining me (if you want to join in and are not on this list just email me or post the link in the comments below!). Feel free to join in on twitter too by using the hashtag #DiversityInLingerie with comments or pictures.
Bloggers contributing to #DiversityinLingerie
Braless in Brasil
Les Gros Bonnet
By Baby’s Rules
The Full Figured Chest
Under the Unders
The Absurd Curvy Nerd
The Lingerie Addict
Bras and Body Image
Thin and Curvy
Pretty Big Bras
Diamonds And Steel
The Curves Have It
The Breast Life
Busty & Thrifty
The Chocolate Plushie
Two Cakes on a Plate
Quest for the Perfect Bra
That Bra Does Not Fit Her
More Sand in my Hourglass
A Sophisticated Pair
Les seins du Spinx
Invest In Your Chest
Weirdly Shaped and Well-Photographed/Voluptuously Thin
The Full Figured Chest/Wide Curves
Well-Fitting and on Instagram
Hourglass with Class submitted here
Fuller Figure Fuller Bust