Samantha Lee explains how lingerie can empower women and be something just for them rather than being used to please men.
She stands in front of the mirror to admire herself. Clad in a lacy red bra and matching barely there panties, complimented by black thigh highs, she feels sexy and powerful. After a moment more of appreciation, she throws on a dress and boots, and heads off to work, the library, or lunch with the girls, having no intention of putting this outfit on display today. Perhaps her significant other is away on a business trip, or she is single and presently focused on her career, or maybe she simply isn’t in the mood. No matter the case, her undergarments aren’t worn for anyone’s pleasure but her own.
Sexy lingerie is often seen as a means to please one’s partner (and it can do so beautifully), but the benefits of its private use are often overlooked. Burlesque dancer, model, costume designer, entrepreneur and actress Dita von Teese explains, ‘Lingerie is not about seducing men, it’s about embracing womanhood’. Research has shown that wearing sexy lingerie increases an individual’s confidence and generates a more positive mindset. This is due to the effect scientists have termed ‘Enclothed Cognition’ which, as explained in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, addresses ‘the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes’, including emotions, self evaluations, attitudes, and interpersonal interactions. Therefore, if a woman feels sexy and empowered during her daily activities, she is more likely to perform better and to develop a stronger self worth.
Lingerie was once a tool utilized by the patriarchy to enforce modesty and impose the “ideal” body type on women. Corsets, for example, originally constrained the feminine figure and shaped bodies to please the male gaze. Today, however, women have taken control of this piece, and wear it by choice in a decidedly sexual fashion. Modern lingerie is created with women’s pleasure and preferences in mind. When discussing her lingerie line Scandale Paris, actress Halle Berry asserted, ‘Women don't wear lingerie for men. We wear it for ourselves’. Psychologist, Professor Carolyn Mair, maintains that ‘Victoria’s Secret has been responsible for a lot of changes in how we view women in lingerie’. She claims that ‘Their runway shows are a celebration of women, and the models look like they are having fun on their terms, so it’s aspirational and empowering to see’. Women also have more input and authority in the conception and construction of the products with companies like M&S creating a lingerie line in collaboration with model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley designed “by women, for women”. Similarly, indie companies such as ThirdLove are, as noted in The New York Times, ‘making bras with women, not men, in mind’.
So my glorious and mighty ladies, next time you are shopping, perhaps snag a few additional items to jazz up your lingerie collection. Those silk stockings, that lavender garter, or black corset might just give you the little extra buzz you’ve been looking for.