Successful women modeling underwear: It makes headlines. Remember tech apparel brand Dear Kate's "Ada Collection" campaign a while back? The one that featured real women in the tech industry modeling the bras and panties that made up the collection. No? Well, here's the run-down for you of what happened—people freaked out. While some called the line "controversial," I stood by many supporters of the collection, asking why exactly women can't be successful, intelligent, and beautiful all at once. As a woman, there's no reason not to love Dear Kate. Comfortable, cute underwear, models who are women that look like you and I, and now, a new collection that celebrates women both in history and today. Dear Kate has partnered with the League of Ladies for a limited-edition line of underwear, complete with illustrations of famous, strong women in history, reimagined as superheroes.
Yes, that's a lot to take in. Quirky? Maybe a little. Wonderful? Absolutely. The women featured in the illustrations are a diverse and inspiring group: Marie Curie, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and Frida Kahlo. Except for in this limited-edition line, they've been designed in illustrations as the true superheroes that they were and continue to be through their legacies. So what are we left with? Four options for underwear: Supermarie, Superharriet, Superamelia, and Superfrida.
My favorite part about the collection, though, is that each pair of underwear has a unique, cute illustration on the back that relates to the particular superhero on the front. For Marie Curie, there's a design of atomic flowers and tiny beakers; for Amelia Earheart, there's a pair of wings. My personal favorite? On the back of the Harriet Tubman pair, there's a constellation map, which she famously used to guide her.
Given that we're all used to seeing mass-produced underwear that has things like "FLIRTY" and "KISS ME" written on the back of them in metallic-pink text, a different kind of underwear design is pretty refreshing. However, this collaborative line features the same "controversial" lookbook style as the Ada collection did; real, successful women are the models for the underwear. And furthermore, real, successful, historically-respected women are illustrated on the underwear themselves. If the media is looking for something controversial to talk about again (as they do), then this collection might create buzz once again.
But there is nothing shameful about celebrating strong, heroic women in history by illustrating them creatively. Yes, the illustrations are appearing on underwear. But just as there is nothing shameful about a successful woman modeling a line of underwear if she chooses to do so, there's nothing shameful about a pair of underwear themselves. It might sound like a silly sentence to read, but in a culture where controversy is picked and pulled out of every statement, non-statement, action and lack there of, placing images of highly-revered women on the front of underwear is bound to sit strangely with some people.
However, those people are the same who faulted the successful tech professionals that modeled the Ada Collection, and are the same people who don't necessarily understand that a woman is and can be whatever combination of characteristics that she chooses to be. And her sex appeal (the very thing that women are, by the way, culturally expected to display to a certain extent), beauty, body or choice to be a model for a tasteful, well-designed campaign does not detract from any other area of her life. It's as simple as that.
So before you find the controversy in it all, look at the photos. Read the models' stories and superheroes' stories. Learn about the technology behind the well-designed garments themselves. Appreciate the creative illustrations that celebrate many of our life-long heroes in a new way. Take it all in, and most likely what you'll find in the end is something farther from controversy, and closer to just plain wonderful.
Images: Dear Kate (4)