I've spent too many hours of my life looking for the right underwear.
My bottom snacks* on knickers as I walk, so I need cheek coverage with good strong elastic. I like cotton or silk, neutral colours, and you can totally forget the whole thong thing (not to gross you out in an intro but I'm convinced they cause UTIs). Pretty simple you might think, just go to a department store... but you'd be wrong. My bum can devour a pair of M&S granny pants in seconds.
Add to this my opinion of the needlessness and discomfort of a bra, and you'll understand I'm no lingerie lover.
However, however, however.
I have come across a new brand on the market called "Neon Moon", which proudly calls itself "feminist lingerie". UK-based, it makes and sells bras and pants made out of sustainable bamboo that stretch to fit and hold your body's own contours (rather than moulding your body to fit the product, as other lingerie does). Neon Moon undies allow your body to expand or contract over time (as a female body often does due to weight fluctuations and hormonal changes), "just", says founder Hayat Rachi, "as the moon itself waxes and wanes". She had me at 'feminist lingerie' but waxing lyrical about the moon? I'm hooked!
I looked at the website and noted the wonderful 'body-positive' sizing (sizes are "Lovely", "Beautiful" and "Gorgeous"), and I watched this video of Hayat speaking about her company. I was swept away on a tide of zeitgeisty admiration and love. I, too, have wondered about lingerie that "objectified women for the male gaze". How fed up am I with being told by other lingerie companies that I need to wear a push-up, under-wired Wonderbra to improve my 34A cups? Or being marketed to with the promise of a "sleek silhouette"? Answer: Very.
Hayat talks about "the narrow standard of beauty in todays society" (something Loose Debra has written about too) and aims to empower women in "a world where girls are bombarded daily with sexualised imagery" .
But I looked at the pictures of the models, thought about the real purpose of sexy lingerie, and found I had some questions. Neon Moon want to "eradicate the male gaze as one of the factors seemingly involved in lingerie production" says an Instagram post. But isn't lingerie meant to be sexy? asked a voice in my head.
What about the tag line "Feminist Lingerie"? might that be offputting for some who, despite a desire for equality and respect, nevertheless believe 'feminist' to be a derogatory or outdated term?
I love the pictures of the women (below) looking happy in their underwear, but am not sure if they are out of context lounging together in bras (who does that?), and also suspect that they look sexy and 'cater for the male gaze', whether they're supposed to or not - they are, after all, gorgeous women in just their undies.
If you click on this image you will see the next of three campaign images. Hayat wants 'to use real women, posing naturally, and not catering for the male gaze'.
But perhaps I'm missing the point? Or perhaps I'm the product of a sexist society, trained to see women in underwear as sexual? These are real questions, and they make me think that Neon Moon is shining a light on a cultural moment where we're becoming aware of norms we may have been blind to, and questioning them. I definitely call myself a feminist, along with most of my male and female friends: why would I want to be friends with anyone who thought I didn't deserve the same rights as men because I was born a woman? I want to feel as powerful as the next person, and sexy and comfortable in any underwear I choose to wear. As I'm heterosexual, it follows that I'd like to be seen as attractive to the male gaze if I choose to be within a male gaze whilst in my bra and pants! But I don't need to be advertised to as if I'm there only for the male gaze. Perhaps that's the point of Neon Moon. It gives us back the choice.
So, I've bought the blue Non! Bamboo soft-cup triangle bra in size "Lovely" and it fits well. I guess if I'm wearing a T- shirt or some other clingy non-Loose Debra-type top, it will come in handy. It's soft, would clearly expand if needed, and goes on over the head like a sports bra, but with adjustable back straps for a good fit.
I haven't bought the knickers yet, as I don't trust my bottom with them. The cheek elastic doesn't look tight enough, and knowing my bum it would gobble them up in no time at all...
Karen Dobres, Chief Freedom Fighter
*To be absolutely clear, and in response to a question, there is a problem, (possibly just for females, possibly for males too), whereby knickers can ride up the sides of your bottom as you walk, not sitting where they should but disappearing into the crack. Hence your bottom appears to eat your pants. This produces discomfort on one hand and terrible VPL on the other. Readjusting them to their correct position is not a good public look. Although needs must, of course.