It may sound like an oxymoron, but shapewear brand Jewel Toned is claiming that its body shapers are body positive — and I would have to agree. The brand's dedication to making such apparel inspire self love is revolutionary when you consider that the body shaping industry is one built on shaming women's natural body shapes. Instead, Jewel Toned knows that some women want to wear shapewear — regardless of their size — and believes in creating that product without spreading any body hate along the way.
When I wear shapewear, I often feel guilty. I'm supposed to be a body positive feminist, after all. But that feeling is simply unfair. I understand that my reasons for wearing body shaping garments might not be totally void of internalized body shaming, but that doesn't mean I deserve ugly underwear. And it doesn't mean I deserve to feel worse about myself for wearing shapewear in the first place.
That's essentially the mantra behind Jewel Toned, where products are currently available in sizes S through XL with the hope of soon expanding, according to lingerie expert and founder Rachael McCrary. As it reads on the website, "You won't find any nude grandma garments in the collection, but you will find shapewear that's bold, comfortable, fun, and designed to help you create your own style. Whether you wear it to the grocery store, the boardroom, or on the red carpet, the goal is to help you feel your most confident."
When I spoke to McCrary via email, she explained that her reasons for going into the body shaping industry were both passionate and personal. McCrary is trying to help women feel good about all their clothing choices and remove the stigma and shame of wearing body shaping items.
"I started Jewel Toned because I noticed that women viewed shapewear in an entirely different light than other categories of lingerie. When they purchase bras and panties or boudoir lingerie, it’s the same retail high as makeup or getting their hair colored," she says. "When [I heard people discuss] their shaper purchases, they were bummed out, upset about the retail spend, and made [to] feel bad about themselves. There was an air of, 'If I need this, something is wrong with me.' I searched the planet and I couldn’t find one shaper that was designed and branded to be fun and fashionable. So I decided to change that."
This kind of positivity needs to be spread to all aspects of the fashion industry. Although the reasoning behind wearing body shapers may be linked to body shaming for a lot of people, the women who wear them don't deserve to feel even more body shamed for their choices. By making designs that are bright and stylish, however, these garments become more fun to wear and more fun to buy.
I know that when I wear my high-waisted, glittery control pants with cut-out, mesh, heart-shaped bottoms, I feel so much more glamorous and gorgeous than when in my plain pair. Similarly, when I wear Jewel Toned's slip under my sheer, feathered dress, I feel so much more confident than I would in something I knew was designed by a company that wasn't even considering body positivity.
As for the rest of the fashion world, Jewel Toned hopes that the industry will follow suit in spreading confidence and positivity through all of women's fashion. McCrary's wish for the future is further inclusivity, less girl hate, and more confidence for women. "I like how in recent years we’ve seen an increase in model diversity and a decrease in retouching. I hope these trends continue to thrive," she tells me. "As consumers, we should erase the word 'competition' from our vocabulary when we’re talking about comparing things we didn’t have a hand in creating. Do you like you? Are you happy? You know who you are. You don’t need them to tell you. As designers, I’d like to see more models in advertising that are gorgeous in multiple ways. Strong role models that are beautiful because of who they are and how they are heightening the vibration on the planet."
At the end of the day, all women deserve to feel beautiful and confident in their fashion choices and when buying clothes — whether it's a gal wishing to smooth out the lines of her underwear or a transgender person who uses shapewear to create curves or bind their chest. Shapewear isn't always about reshaping fat bodies or claiming that fat bodies are "wrong." But even if it was, we shouldn't shame the people who choose to wear it. Jewel Toned is helping make people feel happier with themselves and their choices, and that could never be a negative thing.
Images: Courtesy Jewel Toned