Unpopular opinion: Lingerie Sucks

Julia Plott

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and that means womxn around the world are being bombarded with red-velvet marketing trimmed with lace. Whether you find it romantic, nausea-inducing or simply irrelevant, Valentine’s day is one of the unique holidays that is celebrated around the world. And once the Hallmark companies decide it’s time, images of roses, chocolates and sensual undertones make way to the masses. It’s hard to ignore unless you live under a rock. Even harder to ignore, is the overwhelming presence of marketing curated to get you, me, and womxn alike into a meshwork body suit for a significant other. Are we still enjoying lingerie in 2022?

Photo by Anete Lusina

When it comes to slipping into something a little more revealing, and pinpointing the attire that will add a bit of excitement to your sexy time, it has historically been a decision bred of male-approval. The idea is one which primarily satisfies a heteronormative construct, and one which bases the standard of internal female-driven confidence in the reaction of a male counterpart.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, and if we’re looking at the reality of ranging gender-identities and sexualities, is lingerie still the cornerstone of sex & romance? While the 21st century has seen womxn reclaim facets of femininity that were born of patriarchal roots, I have found myself both admiring individuals reclaiming their relationship with lingerie, and wondering if I myself will come to see it the same way.

Speaking from the heart here, my experiences of wearing lingerie differed from what I had in mind as a young woman. You know the scene; Woman comes out of bathroom in heels and black lace bodysuit. Man is lying on bed. Woman makes her way to the bed while man ogles her, as if preparing for a feast. Maybe there’s rose petals on the ground. Maybe she’s wearing a trench coat which she seductively drops to the floor before the scene cuts.

Read more: We’re All Victims Of The Male Gaze

If I’m being honest, I don’t know her. I’ve tried channeling her, only to spend big bucks on a piece of clothing I could rip just by looking at it. I’ve come out of the bathroom, to see my partner lying on the bed, only to feel immediately awkward. While I can ‘play’ sexy, internally I feel as though I am under a spotlight, with my vulnerability on display. Eyes on me, I walk towards the bed only to have the expensive piece of tissue on my body taken off within minutes. And then, it goes back in the drawer. Looking back, I think I did it just to say that I did it. “I’ve been the girl in the lingerie scene!” I can tell myself in order to feel 100% woman. And yet, I have realized I feel my sexiest when I have the freedom to play with the idea as a whole; whether it’s channeling aspects of masculinity or slipping into a sleek negligee, it’s up to me.

When I put on lingerie under my clothes before heading off to work just to spice up my Tuesday, or when I put on my hip-hugger Calvin's at home and look in the mirror, I am sexy, I am comfortable, and I do it for no one else’s gaze but my own. Nothing beats wearing a hot, matching bra and underwear set, in any setting. Within a relationship, the act alone can be a sign of effort. As in, ‘I payed this money and got all done up to spice up our sex lives because I still care.’ The act of effort in relationships will always be important. The most obvious takeaway is that what works for some, doesn’t work for others, and ideally womxn everywhere have the freedom to choose without the constraints of what has been historically considered sexy. 

What I have seen is this; Lingerie brands are beginning to get it. What started as a movement to show a more inclusive range of models and carry a wider range of sizes and styles, has led to a major shift in the landscape. And slowly, the motto shifts from “Fit this mold” to “Come as you are”. If you slip into red lace and feel sexy, go for it. If you feel your best in an unlined bralette and boyshorts, that’s hot. Womxn and brands alike are beginning to renovate their relationship with lingerie; maybe it’s not about being seen by someone else. It’s about the feeling you embody when you have it on. And as brands worldwide hear our cries, comfort and empowerment take the mainstage, as we put the days of being uncomfortable for someone else’s aesthetic behind us. When we reclaim the gaze and declare that we feel sexy on our own terms, something magical happens.

What is your relationship with lingerie in 2022?

Photo by Anete Lusina

Read more: artil's Alternative Valentine's Gift Guide

Julia Plott

Seeing through modern self-help that distracts with pushing products or lifestyles, and realizing that a great deal of unlearning needs to be done is a big step. It’s important to ask yourself, “Why does this make me uncomfortable?” or “Am I the right person to take up this space?”. There is so much strength in knowing when to simply listen and uplift others, or when to amplify your own experiences.
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