True Lingerie Loves: Beyond the Bra Fit Community
For the past few months I've been yearning and searching to rediscover my love of lingerie. Some of my feelings are because I blog a lot for work, so I simply see a ton of bras. Some of it is because this season all the lingerie kind of looks the same and I'm someone who tends to fall in love with unique and slightly kitschy pieces. But part of it has to do with what the lingerie community has become, which is what I'm going to tackle today.
A few weeks ago Cora brought up bra fit on Twitter and asked for some of my thoughts about it. Talking about the bra fit community is complicated, as it's what most people encounter first when they enter the world of lingerie. When I started getting into underwear, lingerie blogs were mostly dominated by young women with very small band sizes and larger cup sizes. If that described you, you could find a whole community dedicated to bra fit and your potential lingerie choices. As a curvy woman this initially thrilled me, but it didn't take long for some of the issues in the "bra fit" community to become apparent. Some of these tie into the way the plus size community is treated within the greater lingerie community as well.
I've talked before about the differences between full bust, full figure and plus size categories. I've also talked about the sizeism that one encounters on lingerie blogs, even ones that label themselves as body positive spaces. When you add in the rigid rules the bra fit community espouses, it's easy to get left out of the incredibly complex venn diagram that is lingerie blogging. As a woman with a 34/36 band, I was viewed as too heavy to fully be part of the full bust community. Now that I write about plus sizes, I'm frequently told that I'm not heavy enough to be plus size either. Where that leaves me (and many other lingerie lovers) is out in the cold, without a community to fully embrace or find friends in.
It doesn't help that the bra fit rules frequently seem to come down to erasing all traces of fat. Have any back fat? You've broken a bra rule and need to find another. If you're my size or larger, back fat is a way of life, even in a perfectly fitting bra. Find a great bra that doesn't lift your boobs up to your collarbone? It's not right and you should go try a Polish bra, according to many participants in the bra fit community. While the bra fit community has been eminently helpful to many people, it seems to me to have become focused on fitting everyone into some magical lingerie equation that can produce the perfect bra --- at least before you change size and have to start the search all over again. What this ignores is what lots of lingerie reviews and bloggers ignore, which is the transformative power of lingerie.
When I got into lingerie, it was because lingerie truly enabled me to see myself differently. At its most powerful, lingerie can allow you to dress as the person you are that day, at that very moment --- even if no one else sees that person except you. Lingerie does need to fit, but the math of fit and the focus on bras over all other forms of lingerie seems to be missing the forest for the trees, so to speak. When I suffer from what I personally call "lingerie fatigue," it generally comes, not from too many bras in general, but too many bras that don't make me feel anything and too many bloggers who see lingerie as math rather than fashion.
Lots of reviews and blogs focus on the nuts and bolts of lingerie, from stitching and design to the complicated math of finding a bra that fits. What I don't see many lingerie bloggers or reviewers address is how the lingerie makes them feel. Do you feel like a classic Hollywood screen siren? Did that pinstripe bra help you ace a presentation at work?
The best lingerie sets combine good fit with a specific feeling, almost like perfume that takes on personal meaning to the wearer. When you exclude plus size women from this experience either through limited size ranges, designs that fail to make a statement, or by excluding them from large swathes of the lingerie community, then you're limiting that potentially transformative experience to those who are deemed thin enough or privileged enough to be worthy of it. When you immerse yourself into the world of lingerie blogging, it's easy to feel like you don't deserve to have the depth of experience with lingerie that others do.
Over the past month or so, I've gone on a personal campaign to remind myself of why I choose to make lingerie such a large part of my life. I've switched out my yoga pants and t-shirts for slips and silk bed jackets with red lipstick, even if the only one who sees them is my dog. I've made a vow to not buy lingerie that doesn't resonate with me on a deep level and to save up for some custom sets that do. I've purged my lingerie collection of all the pieces that are worn out, don't fit, or that I simply don't gravitate to on a regular basis.
I want my bras to fit, but I also want them to speak to me. And I've gotten to the point in my life and my lingerie collection that I want more than math out of bras: I want to fall in love with them and wear them until they fall apart. That's what lingerie should be and it's not what lingerie blogging is now.
Leave me a comment and tell me about the last piece of lingerie you wore that really moved you. What was it? How did it make you feel?
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