I Don’t Believe in Flaws Anymore and Here’s Why: A Word Vomit about #DiversityInLingerie
I just wanted to start my #DiversityInLingerie post with a quick explanation for my picture before going into my main post. The main picture I’ll be posting on the twitter machine is this one: just me in my trusty Cleo Melissa asking for lingerie companies to include lots of different bodies, because they deserve representation, too. My main picture is more or less a show of solidarity—showing that just because my body type and race is currently fairly well-represented in the lingerie world, doesn’t mean that I’m not incredibly disheartened at the lack of diversity in the lingerie industry.
When I was thinking about what I wanted to make my #DiversityInLingerie post about, I thought about doing a post to include my flaws—zooming in on tiny stretchmarks, talking about why I don’t shave my armpit hair (even though I believe I shouldn’t need a reason), or showing the two scars above my lip that demonstrate that I’ve loved cats since before I learned not to piss them off.
I got these when I was 7 from a kitten named Ty (this was during the height of the beanie baby reign). I don’t want them to go away ever, because to me they symbolize my love for cats, and they look pretty cool. They’re my own unique marks. I feel the same way about the scars on my arms: they’re supposed to be “flaws,” but they remind me of the days when my baby cat, Sasha was a kitten, and would play day and night (often trying to play with my arm in the process).
And this is where I run into one problem with zooming in on my flaws—I don’t perceive any of these things to be “flaws.” Not always because of what they mean to me, but often because I simply like them. My stretchmarks are cute and fun to run my fingers over. I don’t think I should need any other reason to like them. I think it’s sad that our society is so fixated on our labels of “good” and “bad” that nobody thinks there is any chance that someone thinks that stretchmarks are cute all by themselves, even without the help of the “mom earning her tiger stripes” cliché (among others). My shortness is adorable on me. My scars are a happy reminder of how crazy my kitten acted when she was a baby. The scars above my lips are actually really cool looking, and give my mouth a curve illusion. My armpits are sort of androgynous-looking (and actually pretty soft), and they allow me take shorter showers.
But, I know that I’m lucky that I have never once thought of any of my “flaws” as flaws, because there are messages everywhere that tell me that I should be ashamed of them, even in the lingerie world (which I sometimes consider to be more diverse than the runway world). Have you ever seen a lingerie model in an ad with a visible scar or stretch mark anywhere on her body? Have you ever seen any model whose body hair wasn’t whisked away by wax or photoshop?
I’m not even asking about the big things yet. If I see a woman without a scar, at least I can look at her race and body shape/size and feel okay again. If I feel bad about my armpit hair, at least I can just shave it and stop dealing with it for a while (even though I believe I should not have to feel that way). But some people are simply not represented at all. They have no one they can identify with in lingerie ads, and sometimes lingerie companies won’t even cater to their needs at all. And often, they can’t just “take off” their traits and ignore the messages. This it the other, bigger reason why I chose to not zoom in on my “flaws” for my #DiversityInLingerie post.
If you don’t believe me, think about these questions for a bit: How many “nude” bras have you seen that didn’t cater exclusively to light-skinned women? How many bras have you seen that could work as a nude for a dark-skinned woman that were named “nude” instead of “mocha?” Have you ever seen a visibly trans woman in a lingerie ad? What about a woman with implants who wasn’t sporting a “porn-star look?” A plus-sized woman in something that wasn’t frumpy or matronly? An older woman in something sexy and fun? What about a woman with a visible disability, or an androgynous woman? There are so many different body types out there, and I know people who have some of these traits who are beautiful people. Yet, the lingerie industry currently only focuses on one type of body: white but tan, slightly curvy but not TOO curvy, thin, young, not visibly disabled, traditionally feminine, and conventionally attractive.
Even the most diverse ads I’ve seen are often lacking something. Ads with lots of different skin colors where everyone has the same standardized body shape. Ads with lots of different body shapes and sizes where everyone has the same skin color. Ads containing women with implants who look like the stereotypical (aka not the average but perceived to be the average) implant receiver. Diversity isn’t something you can just insert tokens into until people stop bothering you—it’s the mindset that everyone is beautiful in their own, unique way and deserves representation. And it’s something that I firmly believe in, even as someone who is currently fairly well-represented.
If you want to participate in the #DiversityInLingerie tag, you totally can! Just post a picture of yourself holding the sign on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, your blog, or whatever. You can even send your post to me if you’d like, and I’ll post it for you. (Consider sending it to Braless in Brasil, as she’s the one who kicked this whole thing off!) You don’t need to be dressed in lingerie, you don’t need to show your face, and you don’t need to show your “flaws.” You don’t need to be under-represented, in fact, you can even be someone who would be hired to the Victoria’s Secret Angels in a second. The point is to show that everyone is aching for diversity, not just the under-represented.
Remember to check out Braless in Brasil’s original post—she is the one who had this idea and kicked it off, and she has reached so many people already. She’s done an excellent job!