So, what is your bra trying to tell you? It turns out your favorite bra has more to say than “wash me, please...it’s been weeks.” Your bra and lingerie choices can actually empower you to make real changes for society (yeah, even the cute ones).
“Feminism” is much more than a buzzword for millennials. The conversation about rights and availability of opportunity to women, minorities and underrepresented groups is one ignited by a desire for change and perpetuated by the tenacity to never regress back to more archaic ideals. All generations are obsessed with progress. Moreover, every change begins with confrontation of an issue. Even with the ability to vote, opportunity to progress, and tools to live closer to the life they want and deserve, women face daily injustices that are absolutely revolting.
So here’s the issue our generation is faced with now: feminists continue to fight so hard for equality that we have become positively petrified of regression. In our society, women are often made to feel ashamed of their femininity. We have begun to criminalize “girlhood” in fear of being pegged an “anti feminist.” However, this criminalization is anything but progressive.
Why is it that the buxom blondes of Playboy and Sports Illustrated always seem to be staring us down asking for US to change? Why is it we instinctively judge a woman’s political stance, economic status, or sense of self-worth based upon how she is dressed? Why do we feel some women are more empowered than others based off their physical shape, clothing choices, or appearance? Perhaps it is because we have been trained to see other women as threats rather than comrades. Perhaps it is because we have been taught that being “girly” is being “weak.” Perhaps it’s because we still associate power with manhood.
There. It’s been said. Our society is still deeply committed to sustaining the patriarch. And when it comes to fashion (particularly lingerie) there are some hard lessons to be learned. Thankfully, many companies have become committed to the empowerment of women through their brands. For example, Monica Ditzler, the designer of harMonica designs, has committed herself to the empowerment of women through the creation of lingerie that is both sexy and comfortable. Her brand centers itself around four core values that focus on the progression of feminism in today’s world: harmony, love, beauty, and truth.
Without further ado, here are three key political lessons we can learn from feminist lingerie.
(1.) Empowerment should never come from shame.
“Feminist lingerie is lingerie you wear for yourself,” Ditzler muses when asked about the buzz-term “feminist lingerie.” She comments that in recent years, lingerie has become a source of empowerment for more women featuring more options. Feminist lingerie teaches us what empowerment of women should be about: the provision of options. Women should always be offered the option to pursue careers, political viewpoints, or demeanors that are not typically associated with femininity; however, options should never be misinterpreted as obligations.
Ditzler also commented that in recent years, it’s become more difficult to blame your own body when you should be “blaming” the clothes; no longer is it impossible for women with larger, smaller, or otherwise “different” breasts to shy away from the designs they want to wear. In fact, when Ditzler founded harMonica designs, she was partially inspired by her inability to find the bra she wanted in her size. Instead of blaming her body, Ditzler has joined a truly important movement toward self-acceptance, feminism, and harmony.
Women empowering other women means acknowledging that - like feminist lingerie - there are many options available, all are beautiful, and all are uniquely different. One shape that works for you may not work for your sister, roommate, or mom. But that should never mean you’re all not sexy, desirable, or worthwhile. You’re all simply different. And believe it or not, that is what makes you really sexy.
(2.) We do not need to eradicate girlhood to empower women.
When a woman means business, it’s tempting to interpret her as masculine. It’s become a trope in movies, books, and on television- for successful, empowered women to have no time for “feminine” things such as lingerie. However, this is a notion that needs to be eradicated and now.
“Wearing the pants” should never be an expression of sustaining power when plenty of successful women kick ass in a nice skirt, or a cool pair of shorts, or a damn bodysuit. Women should be able to wear whatever makes them most comfortable without retribution - an ideal that Ditzler promotes through her company’s vision.
Ditzler comments that her designs are “market[ed] toward the female gaze rather than the male” and that men are not the ones buying nor wearing her products so why not practice the idea of making beautiful things for women that appeal to women? Moreover, Ditzler also comments on the association of “sexy” clothing with “discomfort” (think high heels, corsets, itchy bras) saying that “confidence is sexy” and that “If you feel good in what you’re wearing, you’re sexy.”
By telling women to throw away their pretty panties, flush their sparkly bath bombs, and otherwise cease indulging their interests in all things feminine in order to be taken seriously, we are doing more harm than good. All women are good women. To “take ‘it’ like a man” should become an archaic expression. Take “it” like the best possible version of you. Take “it” in those lacy, rose-gold cheeksters you just bought because they make you feel good. Take “it” in those ultra-girly sweatpants that feel like a second skin. Take “it” in what makes you feel powerful, not what we have been told is powerful.
So when the world throws you a curveball, don’t “grow a pair.” When the going gets tough, don’t “put on your big boy pants.” When life hits you hard, don’t “man up.” Be the best possible version of you. And thanks to designers like Ditzler, your underthings can reflect how truly awesome you are.
(3.) Women need to help other women.
Women face daily injustices: whether it’s continuation of the wage gap, discrimination in the workplace, or an increased risk of being victimized on the street. Women have to fight deep-seated misconceptions daily. And what’s worse? Many people fail to acknowledge the severity of or even the existence of these issues. Some say that feminism is dead - that women have all the rights they could ever need or want. However, all American women today have faced some sort of discrimination simply based upon their sex.
So why does it seem like so many women are constantly in subtle competition with one another? Why do so many intelligent women reject the term, “feminist” in fear of being dubbed a “man-hater” when it isn’t about men at all. Feminism is about equality. Feminism is about opportunity. Feminism is about progression. Feminism is about women.
Women should be banding together fighting injustices side by side. And by supporting female-owned businesses that produce ethical, body-positive, and sustainable clothing such as the products offered by harMonica or Calligramme - women can help aid progression while looking hot as hell.
We need to encourage girls and women to express themselves through their clothing, lingerie, and other choices. And what’s more? We need to make it fun. Because fashion should be fun and functional and exciting. Fashion is an art. Fashion is not a mask.
Women are beautiful, dynamic, and important people. Why should anyone feel forced to hide or change their own unique self? So go on, put on what makes you feel good and don’t let anyone tell you it’s “wrong.” Because truthfully, when it comes down to it, they’re the ones who are “wrong.”
Written By: Rachel Truong 3/29/16