Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Women, Doing It For Themselves

I think we’ve all been there, while glaring at the smooth, perfectly toned model in barely-there underwear we feel a blanket of self-loathing surrounds us. For me, the questioning always begins with, ‘How on earth am I meant to get my boobs in there without them dangling down by my knees?’

I find myself in a difficult battle with saucy underwear. Sometimes it feels so badass to be wearing something that makes me feel sexy. But then I question myself.  Who am I wearing it for? and Why does shopping for it make me feel so sh*t? Ever since we were little we’ve been told to strive to look like the ideal woman: tanned…but not too dark, skinny…but not too skinny, big boobs…but perky, curvy…but only in the right places, hairless…but without any signs of removal. All in all we must be effortlessly perfect, sexy and very ‘western’ and this has been reflected in most online retailers and throughout the fashion industry. But, times are changing. There has been a new wave of underwear brands that are designed by women for ALL women. Looking at sites like Womanhood makes me feel like I can breathe again. Womanhood brings together different brands with the common goal of showing women in their true, naturally gorgeous forms.  We get a glimpse of a collection of women, with razor burn and hairy armpits who are not shying away or trying to hide any part of themselves. A real representation of sexy women wearing underwear for themselves and not for the need to please someone else.

And it’s not just advertising that’s changing…

When we think of an underwear show, we tend to think of the stereotype of a super tall, very skinny, incredibly toned super model that we could not begin to compare ourselves to. This is so far removed from the reality that most people live in that it almost puts them off buying the underwear in the first place because they won’t look like that!

Rihanna has used her platform as a designer to reinvent lingerie as we know it with her underwear brand SAVAGE x Fenty. However, Rihanna isn’t perfect, as shown by the use of  a song including words from the Islamic Hadith in her show, which massively disrespected the values of Islam and the Islamic community. Despite this large flaw, SAVAGE x Fenty is used to positively demonstrate how all body types can look sexy in lingerie. The diversity in her latest fashion show was like no other, as it showcased people from different genders, races and so many different body types.

As a way to advertise a lingerie brand, having such a diverse cast is a huge success as it means that everybody can see what the underwear that they want to wear – but are often too scared to buy – will look like on their own bodies. By taking away the perception that is branded into our minds that you have to look a certain way to wear sexy underwear, Rihanna is making her brand so much more accessible to people from every walk of life. As a way to empower women, men, non-binary people, it normalises their bodies and gives them a way to feel comfortable in their own skin as they see versions of themselves represented by a huge fashion brand.