Tuesday, August 20, 2013

#DiversityInLingerie: We Need More Representative Samples.

This post is part of a larger movement of various bloggers using the hashtag #DiversityInLingerie.  See June's post on Braless in Brasil to get involved/see a list of everyone participating!

To say that I look like a typical lingerie model would be a stretch... I look like one minus a few inches in height, plus a few pounds, plus a handful of scars and stretchmarks and other features that the media would call "imperfections," but I just call "me."  But my skin color, age group, and body type are still much more ubiquitous in the lingerie industry than those of many other women.  I think this needs to change.

Of course there are women who are in the 18-30 range, white (but usually tan!), tall, and very slender, with ample chests, no blemishes, and no cellulite.  These women certainly have a place in magazines, trade shows, and on runways.  Their bodies are equally valid, equally beautiful, equally deserving of attention.  But they don't constitute a representative sample of all women, yet the lingerie industry uses these models for the vast majority of work and/or airbrushes women to look like they have all of the features listed above.  Why?  Do an image search for "lingerie model" (remember to set content filters for this if you need to!), and you'll find that if a woman doesn't meet all of the above criteria, she stands out.  Even in plus-size lingerie modeling, there is a "standard" look: smooth, unmarked skin and an hourglass shape.

There are companies that try to break out of the mould; Curvy Kate uses "regular" (re: who haven't modeled before) women to model their lingerie and doesn't airbrush away every lump and bump.  You! Lingerie used pregnant models at New York's Fashion Week.  There are far more non-white models out there than there were- though I'd love to see more.  But we still have quite a way to go before the industry is truly representative.  Do 50-year-olds not buy lingerie?  Do people in wheelchairs not buy lingerie?  Do people with c-section or surgery scars not buy lingerie (that actually shows their scars)?  Of course they do!  And guess what?  Using someone with any of these attributes to market lingerie will not make me- someone who fits the "mould" to some degree at least- hesitate to purchase it.

Dear lingerie industry:

I don't need to see lingerie on a certain type of figure to be convinced to buy it, even if it is nice to see figures like mine out there. I actually don't even need to see it on a model who "looks like me." I'm much more inclined to spend my money on lingerie when it is modeled by someone who looks comfortable and happy (and, with bras, preferably well-fitted!). Sex appeal can be used, but I associate it more with a mindset than a particular appearance, and I actually don't appreciate you guessing what I find "sexy" in order to sell me a pair of knickers*, because attraction is very individualized. I would love to see more lingerie models of different ages and body types, with any marks on their bodies, of different races/ethnic backgrounds, or with disabilities. I think you'll find that a lot of women agree with me.


The Absurd Curvy Nerd

*"But it's what's sexy to men/significant others that drives sales!" doesn't hold with me either.  I haven't seen anyone really trying to use more variety and gauging its effectiveness.  Also, I know many, many people find their partners just as sexy with (if not because of) all their unique qualities and supposed "flaws."

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