Lingerie, Femininity and Feminism

March 08 2017

What does a feminist look like anyway?

Lately, everywhere I look the words "Empowering Women" jump at me. Whether a company's selling sodas, soap or knickers, I can't help but feel like it's become a marketing gimmick, the latest 'corporate social responsibility' token. They're words I now try to steer clear from in order to avoid the likely eye roll ("another one empowering women to sell something"). But it's not to say that no good is coming of it. Ads empowering women inspire, CEOs organising conferences get important reforms going and of course there are women like Melinda Gates (and many others) who have made it their life's mission to make a difference to the future of millions of women and girls.

Though personally I strongly believe in and support the empowerment of women via the education of young girls, it's not what I want to discuss. I'm going to keep it more relevant to my business - the lingerie industry.

Last week, brilliant actress, female activist and everyone's wannabe BFF Emma Watson was criticised for appearing nude - par a Burberry shrug in a Vanity Fair editorial, shot by genius photographer Tim Walker. No sooner had the images appeared, she was being labeled a hypocrite. And she calls herself a feminist! For heaven's sake, someone give the woman a bra! 

Also last week, we were all shocked by the news of the sale of Agent Provocateur to business tycoon Mike Ashley - sad times for us all to see a brand we love so much fight to survive. But what really bothered me - no, what infuriated me was how some of the media reacted to this news.

The Telegraph's Victoria Moss penned an article titled "Agent Provocateur's demise proves the cliched version of seduction via sexy underwear is dead" which is misconstrued in cliched, backward-thinking and, dare I say it, resentful opinions of the lingerie industry. Ms Moss's claims that sexy lingerie and silk sleepwear are reserved for "demanding mistresses" and hardcore Ibiza party girls only couldn't be farther from the truth or more 'unfeminist'. Some of our most loyal and bold clients at Full Disclosure are conventional couples, raising children, leading normal lives, keeping the spark alive in their relationships. As are many of the designers whose labels we stock and love.

When did the suppression of female sexuality become feminist? Why are so many women so quick to attack other women - ironically, in the name of feminism, merely for wanting to do what they please? Why can't we be mothers, colleagues, doting wives and partners and still want to seduce, wear sexy lingerie, indulge in silk pyjamas or wear nothing at all? Why do we criticise those who undress but also attack those who choose to cover up?

It's a matter of preference, not degradation and submission of women. 

At Full Disclosure, seductive lingerie and comfort sleepwear go hand-in-hand. They reflect the different moods and facets of a woman's life; they are not mutually exclusive. To us, women's empowerment is about the freedom to choose without the consequence of being attacked, criticised or stigmatised for that choice. A woman should have the right to choose her career, education, lifestyle, fashion and family planning no matter where you stand on the subject - all of which result in diversity, beautiful diversity. That's what we fight for. It's our mission to change the perception of the sexy lingerie industry which has for so many years been equated with vulgarity and immorality, choosing instead to celebrate the women who embody femininity. We will continue to talk about it and support it until it is no longer taboo.

We salute the Sheryl Sandbergs, Katherine Johnsons, and Erika Lusts of this world for inspiring us and the next generation to believe that we can be whatever we want to be, that nothing is out of reach.

In the words of journalist and activist Gloria Steinem "Feminists can wear whatever they fucking well please".

International Women's Day: Celebrating Women

Shirine x

Images credited to Agent Provocateur, Jennie Rieu in Harlow & Fox, Violet & Wren, Sleeper, Bordelle, Asceno, Loveday London and Fleur of England